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Axios-NewsWhip 2020 attention tracker: Biden pummeled for his gaffes

Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

Articles about Joe Biden generated 3.8 million interactions on social media last week — more than that of any other candidate since June — but they were overwhelmingly on stories about his recent blunders. according to data from NewsWhip provided exclusively to Axios.

Why it matters: While Biden's congressional record and moderate credentials are baked into his candidacy — and may be working to his benefit — his recurrent gaffes could invite questions about his mental acuity and fitness for office.

  • "Biden has clearly survived the first few waves of attacks on his candidacy," Democratic strategist Ian Russell tells Axios. "The next and biggest challenge for him is, do Democrats get nervous and do they shop around for someone else?"

Driving the news: Biden stumbled through the kickoff of the Iowa State Fair with a quartet of news-making mistakes:

Driving the news: Biden stumbled through the kickoff of the Iowa State Fair with a quintet of news-making mistakes:

By the numbers:

  • Among the 100 stories about Biden that generated the most interactions (retweets, likes, comments, shares) on Facebook and Twitter last week, 67% of those interactions (1.78 million) were on stories about his gaffes.
  • The 1.78M interactions over the gaffes alone were higher than the interactions on the coverage of all of Biden's 2020 rivals except Beto O'Rourke last week.

Between the lines: In a race where differences among candidates have largely been subjective and a matter of personal politics, these mistakes represent unmistakable blemishes that can be exploited by opponents and relayed to voters across the political spectrum.

Our 2020 attention tracker is based on data from NewsWhip exclusively provided to Axios as part of a project that will regularly update throughout the 2020 campaign.

See all past editions of the tracker here.