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Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios — Note: Hover over the weekly rank on desktop to see articles and interactions for each candidate and issues.

Stories about Michael Bloomberg last week generated 9.4 million interactions on social media — more than twice his previous high. Still, he's getting lapped by Bernie Sanders, according to data from NewsWhip provided exclusively to Axios.

Why it matters: This was the point when Bloomberg converted massive spending into significant organic interest in his campaign, but it may be no match for the Sanders grassroots army.

The big picture: Since joining the race, Bloomberg has spent his way into the national conversation, while lagging behind in organic interest.

  • But as he has climbed in the polls, he has entered the crosshairs of the national conversation — and may now be establishment Democrats' best chance at keeping the nomination away from Sanders.

Yes, but: Sanders is also moving into a new tier. His 18.5 million interactions last week were higher than any Democratic candidate has generated throughout the entire election cycle.

  • Over the last four weeks, his 50 million interactions are 20 million more than Biden, who has the second most.
  • Bloomberg's team fears that if competing moderates don't drop out, Sanders' delegate lead could become insurmountable.

By the numbers: While still far off from Sanders, Bloomberg is surging into second place by many measures.

  • In less than a month, he's erased a 22.5-point deficit and now trails by just 1.7 points in the RealClearPolitics polling average.
  • He surpassed Biden in social media interactions this week. His 9.4 million interactions were more than any candidate other than Biden or Sanders have garnered in a single week all cycle.
  • Over the last week, he has eclipsed Joe Biden for the second-most cable news and nightly network news mentions, according to the the Internet Archive Television News Archive.

Between the lines: Bloomberg's surging profile has been boosted by the volume of coverage about him.

  • In the first six weeks of his campaign from early November to mid-December — when he was polling in the low single digits — Bloomberg had 24,754 articles written about him. That compared to 17,259 for Warren, 11,954 for Sanders, 5,242 for Buttigieg and 2,243 for Klobuchar.

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.

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Driving the news: Fauci's comments come on the heels of a USA Today op-ed by White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, who claimed that Fauci has been "wrong about everything" related to the coronavirus that the two have interacted on. Fauci told The Atlantic: “I can’t explain Peter Navarro. He’s in a world by himself.”

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2:30 p.m. ET: 3,459,053 — Total deaths: 136,900 — Total recoveries: 1,049,098 — Total tested: 41,764,557Map.
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  4. Politics: Fauci says White House effort to discredit him is "bizarre" — Trump says Navarro shouldn't have written op-ed attacking Fauci.