Category Archives: Presidential

Democrats, Republicans Approach Facebook Differently


By Becky Hogan

Looking at Facebook data since November of last year, we found that potential 2016 GOP presidential candidates are pushing out a variety of content on the social networking site—some are predominately sharing videos or statuses, while others are more often posting links or photos.

But each GOP lawmaker has his own style—and no two are alike.

By contrast, top Democrats have a clear strategy for Facebook engagement. To them, a picture is worth a thousand words.  Data shows that they favor posting photos on Facebook more than any other type of content.

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A version of this chart was featured in U.S. News and World Report earlier this week.

Every Monday, U.S. News and WorldReport’s “Washington Whispers” blog will feature a piece of Trendpo’s data on the political social media landscape.

Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton—both of whom top the list for 2016 Democratic ticket– are following President Obama’s shoes.  And it’s no secret that Obama has used social media more effectively than any politician in the last two presidential campaigns, so are Biden and Clinton on to his strategy?

Recently re-elected New Jersey Governor Chris Christie primarily posts videos.  And this is probably very intentional—Christie’s no-nonsense approach has bolstered his national presence giving him credibility on both sides of the aisle; he’s taking advantage of the fact that his style resonates best on video.

Just last week he posted a video of a press conference he gave in Union City, New Jersey a day after he was re-elected. Christie talks about his strategy for winning the Latino vote—something the Republican party has struggled to do.  In his speech, he says “You have to show up.”


For Ted Cruz, the vast majority of his content features statuses and links, though he uses a variety of different mediums and this strategy seems to be working for him.  He’s survived to the final rounds of TrendPo’s social media competition, #SenateSweeps.  He’s best known for his efforts to repeal Obamacare and the recent posts on his Facebook page reiterate his message.

This week was no exception:

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This post was shared 5,100 times and Liked by over 24,000 times–Cruz’s messaging strategy is resonating with his Facebook audience.

Sixty-three percent of Representative Paul Ryan’s Facebook posts are photos, whereas Florida Senator Marco Rubio uses the least amount of photos of any of the possible GOP front runners.

Lately, Paul has been more ‘talked about’ on Facebook than any of his Republican colleagues due to budget discussions in Congress–and his photo-centric approach is getting him a lot of buzz on the social network.

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Once these potential candidates are in campaign mode, will their Facebook content feature more photos and videos? We’ll be watching the data to see if their social media strategies change over time.

Social Media Works In The Background of Syrian Civil War


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President Obama’s unexpected announcement that he would seek a vote from Congress on action in Syria has completely dominated traditional and social media this week. President Obama saw a rare drop in TrendPo rank, moving to #2 behind Syria. The top issues and people all revolve around Syria this week – the top ten list includes John Kerry, John McCain, Israel, National Security and the United Nations.

People and issue that directly involve Syria have seen big jumps in national media coverage – this isn’t particularly surprising considering the possibility of military intervention abroad.

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The most interesting new development is the increasing role of social media in the conflict. Opponents of a potential strike on Syria, both foreign and domestic, have used social media to spread their message. The Armed Forces Tea Party page has been posting pictures of uniformed armed services members with anti-war signs. Most of the posts have received a few thousand likes and shares, such as the one below.

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The Syrian Electronic Army, a group of pro-Syrian government hackers, managed to redirect visitors to a Marine Corps recruitment website to a page using the same pictures.

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At the same time, since the beginning of the civil war rebel groups have taken advantage of social media to make their case. Video of the poison gas attack that started the war debate in the US were initially released on social media. This was followed by dozens of homemade videos of victims of the attack. Opposition supporters worked to spread the videos on social media – while not the primary reason, the free availability of the videos put pressure on the Obama administration to act and contributed to intelligence gathering.

The opposition has been active on social media, with an active YouTube, Facebook and Twitter presence intended to share their arguments with the outside world. During last year’s shelling of Homs in Western Syria, opposition activists posted live pictures and video as part of an outreach effort.

As the United States’ role in Syria becomes more defined, we expect to see more efforts to influence public opinion from both the Government and the Opposition.

50 Years After the March on Washington, Politicians Take The Stage


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By Ryan Isakow

50 years ago, over 200,000 people marched on Washington to demand equal rights and economic opportunity. Speakers included religious leaders, students, labor activists and singers – but not a single elected official spoke. Yesterday, some of the most influential politicians in the country took the stage to discuss the achievements of the past 50 years and the progress yet to be made. All of the politicians who spoke saw jumps in their Facebook likes, to varying extents.

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Unsurprisingly, President Obama had the largest increase followed by President Clinton – both of their speeches were more heavily featured by the media, and are both have a high level of public exposure from being president. The other speakers look small in comparison, but the increase in their Facebook likes is high compared to their usual intake; the day before the march Marcia Fudge got 3 new likes, Joaquin Castro got 6, John Lewis 32 and Senator King 0. Barack Obama received twice as many new likes the day of the march as he did the day before, and President Clinton went from 2443 new likes the day before to 3371 – an increase of nearly 1000 new likes per day.

Of course, by virtue of having such a large national profile it’s not surprising the presidents received more social media feedback. Barack Obama had over 36 million likes the day of the march; Angus King had slightly less than 4000. A better measure of public exposure would be percent change, which would account for the dramatic difference in preexisting prominence.

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John Lewis received the biggest change out of anybody, increasing his total likes by over 2%. As the youngest speaker at the original March on Washington, Rep. Lewis’ presence had a symbolic significance that got attention on social media.  This also says something about how we look at changes in social media; raw numbers matter, but preexisting followers make a difference in new followers.

The fact that mainstream politicians went on stage for the 50th anniversary of the March says a lot about how far the country has come. We’re happy to see social media is responding to the rally, and will be keeping an eye on future civil rights initiatives on social media.

Coburn Jumps on Impeachment Bandwagon


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By Becky Hogan

While most members of Congress have used the August recess to discuss immigration policy, federal budget issues, and the implementation of Obamacare, some Republicans are voicing support for another issue—presidential impeachment.

There’s been a grassroots effort brewing all summer in which citizens across the country are calling for presidential impeachment, but now the debate is reaching members of Congress too.

Last week, Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma told constituents last Wednesday that the nation was “perilously close” to an impeachment situation.

Coburn isn’t the only politician talking impeachment—preceding Coburn were Rep. Blake Farenthold of Texas and Rep. Kerry Bentivolio of Michigan.

Bentivolio said last Monday that it would be a “dream come true” to impeach Obama.  Farenthold kicked off the impeachment talk by telling his constituents in mid-August that the House “had the votes” to impeach the president.

While the lawmakers have not laid out any specific charges against President Obama, the health care law and IRS scandal seem to be among the motivating factors.

So is all the impeachment buzz gaining traction on social media?

Coburn Weighs In

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It seems that Coburn might be giving credibility to the other lawmakers who previously spoke up about the case for impeachment–both Farenthold and Bentivolio saw upticks in Facebook Likes and Twitter Followers after Coburn’s announcement.  Being that Coburn is a Senator and a more recognized name in the Beltway, it makes sense that he’s seen the most gains last week on both social networks.

Coburn’s remarks were particularly surprising because the senator, known for pushing back against his own party on many issues, has acknowledged his respect for Obama and their friendship on many occasions.

Obama adviser David Axelrod and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal both spoke out against Coburn’s remarks last week, which seems to only have added to his social gains.

Interestingly, however Bentivolio has seen the most chatter n his Facebook page especially around the time that Coburn jumped on the impeachment bandwagon–Bentivolio received almost 70 comments in one day.  This came after he wrote an e-mail in response to the media’s coverage of his comments, calling the media “the most corrupt thing in Washington.”  However, he stood by his statement on impeachment.

 

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Bentivolio’s comment counts could be an indication that he’s seeing more backlash on the issue than either Farenthold or Coburn.

Will the impeachment drama among Republicans continue? We’ll watch to see how politicos continue to react to the impeachment movement as the August recess winds down.

 

 

The 2016 Democratic Field


president-campaign_04_620x350By Becky Hogan

As presidential wannabes flock to Iowa this summer to start testing the waters and make inroads in the Hawkeye state, the big question lingers–who stands a chance against the formidable Clinton machine?

The possible list of GOP presidential candidates continues to grow, but it seems Hillary Clinton has temporarily frozen the field for Democrats in 2016 until she formally announces whether she’ll run.

We’re still over 2 years away from Election Day and no one on either side has begun to lay the groundwork for a presidential campaign, but it’s never too early to see who is generating the most online buzz among some possible contenders.

Vice President Joe Biden, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, and Minnesota Senator Amy Klochubar will all be making trips to Iowa this summer amid speculation that they are mulling presidential bids.

Fun fact: In 2006, then-Senator Barack Obama also made the trek to Iowa, long before he received the Democrat nomination in 2007.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker handily won the New Jersey Senate primary last week and many believe that if he makes it to the US Senate, he will consider a presidential run in 2016.

Then there’s Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley who has been the most candid about his presidential aspirations to date.  He announced at the National Governor Association meeting earlier this month that he intends to continue to the lay the groundwork for a presidential bid by fundraising and beefing up his social media presence.

When it comes to media coverage, no one comes close to the amount of media buzz that Clinton has generated.  It seems that the media hasn’t stopped speculating about the former Secretary of State.

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Biden has about half as much national media coverage as Clinton and he’s second in command! After Biden, the media coverage drops off considerably for the remaining Democrats.  Booker has less than a fourth of the Vice President’s media coverage—even with a recent primary win.

When it comes to social media, it’s a different story.

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Booker, known for his social media prowess, has the largest following on Twitter of any of the possible contenders—he’s accrued twice as many followers as Clinton.  Biden has the most Facebook Likes of the Democrats we’ve selected.

Booker was the most “talked about” on Facebook over the past week—probably due to his recent primary victory.  Castro was the second most talked about is the past week after he announced he would attend the infamous Iowa Steak Fry, indicating the mayor is capable of generating a lot of buzz. Interestingly, Clinton was the least buzzed about in the past week indicating that Facebook users may be losing interest until she makes an official announcement.

So it seems the national media has a clear favorite in Hillary Clinton, but social media has yet to decide a clear contender.  What’s interesting is that these potential candidates seem to be buzzing in different ways—we’ll keep watching as the race for the 2016 Democratic nomination—er running mate— heats up.

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