Family Feud: The GOP Rift Captured by TrendPo’s Data

Republican Feud

By Becky Hogan

The deepening divide between the GOP’s establishment and its right wing has been simmering for a few years, but lately it seems to be at a full boil as Republicans don’t agree on much of anything.

From defunding Obamacare, to immigration reform, to national security policy, the GOP is in the midst of a major identity crisis.

So TrendPo is taking a look to see how the rift is playing out according to our data.

Of course, the Paul-Christie feud best captures this trend.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Senator Rand Paul have been at odds with each other ever since Christie made remarks about the party’s libertarian wing being a “dangerous strain,” particularly when it comes to national security. Paul has taken a staunch stance against federal surveillance programs and supports decreased defense funding , while Christie responded by citing the 9/11 attacks.

So who’s winning on social media and news mentions?  We’ve captured the feud since July 25—when the debate first started being picked up by national media.

Paul vs Christie

While many think that Christie’s broader appeal uniquely positions him against Hillary Clinton, the data shows that there’s just something about Rand Paul that’s resonating with his supporters. Paul has gained 22 times as many Facebook Likes and over 6 times as many Twitter Followers over the last 3 weeks.

We should note, however, that Christie has a larger following on Twitter overall compared to Paul.

Last weekend, Sarah Palin jumped in on the debate supporting Rand Paul.  Paul responded by saying he loves an endorsement from Sarah Palin … and this might be why:

Palin Weighs In

But it’s not just a debate over policy and rhetoric by two possible presidential hopefuls.  It’s spilling over into electoral races throughout the country.

When Liz Cheney launched her primary challenge against Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi, she claimed it was time “for a new generation of leaders to step up.”

Similarly, Tea Party candidate Matthew Bevin announced his campaign against Mitch McConnell, claiming that McConnell isn’t a true conservative.

GOP Primaries

While these races are just getting off the ground, the data highlights the divide in the GOP. Cheney may be gaining more traction online than Enzi, but incumbent McConnell is holding his ground against Bevin.

Rand Paul says the “Old Guard” needs to retire because they’re losing elections. We’ll be watching closely to see how these races and others–like Bryan Smith’s recent challenge to Idaho congressman Mike Simpson–unfold.

But just when it seems the new wave of Republicanism might have a leg up in social media and news coverage, John McCain has been more talked about than Paul or Christie over the past month.

Proof that the debate over where the GOP is headed is just getting started.

GOP Identity Crisis


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