Chris White on July 17, 2019
Online interest in Democratic presidential candidates has plunged as the media largely focuses on President Donald Trump’s recent tweets.
Articles about the Democratic candidates last week generated only a combined 6.5 million social media interactions, the fewest since January, Axios reportedWednesday. Trump soaked up all the attention Sunday after he told several progressive lawmakers to “go back” to their own countries.
News articles about the president, meanwhile, generated roughly 23.2 million interactions, the report notes, citing data from NewsWhip, a social-media metrics company. The moment is a reminder of the president’s ability to steer news-cycles and deprive his opponents of attention.
One of the most significant stories about a Democratic candidate was on California Sen. Kamala Harris’s proposal to require rent and utility payments to be incorporated into credit scores to help address the black homeowner-ship gap, which received 208,000 interactions.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, who is also running for president, also saw his interactions tumbled despite rolling out his health care plan Monday, which seeks to build on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) rather than attempt to dismantle it.
Axios’ data on interactions include likes, comments and shares and highlights a crucial element of an election: the ability to measure the amount of attention candidates are receiving and how that attention is moving the minds of voters. It measures enthusiasm in ways traditional polling can not.
Trump employed a similar technique in 2016. The president earned roughly $2 billion worth of free media during the 2016 Republican primary while spending much less on advertising than most of his GOP opponents during that election year.
To put that into perspective, Trump earned $400 million worth of free media in February 2016, a number equaling the amount of free media the late Sen. John McCain spent during his entire 2008 presidential campaign.