Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has more Twitter power than media, establishment
A freshman congresswoman who has held office for less than a month is dominating the Democratic conversation on Twitter, generating more interactions — retweets plus likes — than the six most prolific news organizations combined over the last 30 days.
The big picture: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is miles behind President Trump in the influence of her Twitter account. But he's the president — she's a new member of Congress who shot out of a cannon following the midterm elections. And she has far more power on Twitter than the most prominent Democrats, including the congressional leaders and the likely 2020 presidential candidates.
Ben Thompson — founder of Stratechery, and one of the most pioneering online thinkers — points out that neither Ocasio-Cortez's "background nor her position as a first-time representative are ... noteworthy enough to be driving the national political conversation. And yet she is doing exactly that."
- "In short, she is the first — but certainly not the last — of an entirely new archetype: a politician that is not only fueled by the Internet, but born of it."
- "[W]hen a 29-year-old former bartender of Puerto Rican descent beats a senior Democratic leader of the House, and then proceeds to set the political agenda during her first week in office, it’s more than a cute social media story."
- "AOC is one answer to the bigger question of how social media impacts not just the portrayal of political power, but its seizure and exercise."
The main takeaways:
- Among 2020 Democratic hopefuls, Sen. Kamala Harris (combining her Senate and personal accounts) had the highest Twitter engagement at 4.7 million interactions over the last 30 days — but that's still way behind Ocasio-Cortez.
- Even former President Barack Obama was far behind Ocasio-Cortez, at 5.3 million interactions (but she's a lot more active on Twitter).
- Other notable Democrats:
- Bernie Sanders: 3.2m (combined Senate and personal account)
- Nancy Pelosi: 2.5m
- Chuck Schumer: 1.9m
- Elizabeth Warren: 1.5m (combined Senate and personal account)
- Beto O'Rourke: 1.5m
- News organizations' metrics do not include numbers from their star journalists. CNN's Jim Acosta generated 2.2 million interactions, compared to the network's 3.3 million.
- On the right, individual personalities out-index partisan news organizations. The biggest conservative megaphones — aside from the president — are Charlie Kirk (7.8 million interactions) and Donald Trump Jr. (2.4m)
- The volume of tweets is an important variable to consider:
- Trump: 9.1 tweets per day
- Ocasio-Cortez: 7.2
- Harris: 10.5
- Obama: 0.4
- CNN: 136
Two notes about the data: Not listed is Fox News, which has boycotted Twitter since November. These numbers do not account for Twitter activity from bots.
Note: This article was updated on Jan. 19 to reflect the most recent data.