Hello and welcome to the Slatest’s weekly 2016 Twitter Power Rankings, where every Friday we’ll round-up each of the White House hopeful’s most successful tweets from the past week. Why are we doing this? For starters, it will provide a helpful—if incomplete—snapshot of the topics that candidates are talking about online, and which of those are resonating with voters on social media. And, as the campaign continues to unfold online and off, it will also hopefully allow us to draw some conclusions about which candidates are winning the campaign Twitter wars and why.
A few ground rules up front:
- We’re defining a candidate’s most successful tweet as the one that receives the most retweets—though in the event two or more tweets are neck-and-neck, the one with significantly more favorites will get the edge.
- Tweets that include a direct request for a retweet are ineligible because that’s cheating. RT if you agree!
- If a candidate has more than one account, we’ll use the one tied to his or her official presidential campaign. (Or, in the case of blue checkmark-less Jim Gilmore, what we think is his official account.)
- Only tweets from the past seven days are eligible. Since we’ll try to publish the weekly rankings every Friday, that means any tweet sent between the past Saturday and the morning we go live.
You’ll find this week’s takeaways at the bottom, but without any further ado, here’s Week 1’s ranking:
1.) Hillary Clinton
Too many women still earn less than men on the job—and women of color often lose out the most. This needs to change. #WomensEqualityDay— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 27, 2015
2.) Donald Trump
New Reuters Poll just came out and has me at 32%, highest number yet.The silent majority is back and we will MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 23, 2015
3.) Bernie Sanders
It is absurd that college graduates today are carrying debts of $50,000, $100,000 or more. We must deal with the issue of student debt.— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) August 27, 2015
4.) Ben Carson
5.) Ted Cruz
6.) Bobby Jindal
Please send prayers for a Louisiana State Trooper who was shot during a traffic stop today.— Gov. Bobby Jindal (@BobbyJindal) August 23, 2015
7.) George Pataki
.@realDonaldTrump Donald are you talking about all those years crime went down, taxes went down and your property values went up?— George E. Pataki (@GovernorPataki) August 25, 2015
8.) Marco Rubio
95 years ago today the 19th Amendment gave American women the right to vote. Grateful for the tireless advocates who made it happen.— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) August 26, 2015
9.) Jeb Bush
.@HillaryClinton compares pro-life Americans to terrorists, but defends despicable PP treatment of unborn? Her priorities are totally wrong— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) August 27, 2015
10.) Rand Paul
I will always keep America safe, but war should be our last resort, not first. If you want war there will always be a Bush or a Clinton!— Dr. Rand Paul (@RandPaul) August 26, 2015
11.) Carly Fiorina
12.) Scott Walker
Obama calls opponents of #IranDeal "crazies," because its crazy to oppose giving a regime calling for our downfall a path to a nuclear bomb?— Scott Walker (@ScottWalker) August 25, 2015
13.) Rick Perry
14.) John Kasich
15.) Mike Huckabee
16.) Chris Christie
17.) Martin O’Malley
18.) Rick Santorum
Sign up to join us as we celebrate visiting all 99 counties in Iowa! We did it in 2012 and we're doing it again. http://t.co/33tMFEyOWy— Rick Santorum (@RickSantorum) August 25, 2015
19.) Jim Webb
My thoughts and prayers go out to the three victims of this senseless tragedy, as well as to their families and friends. #WDBJ— Jim Webb (@JimWebbUSA) August 26, 2015
20.) Lindsey Graham
My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, and #WDBJ7. Absolutely heartbreaking.— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) August 26, 2015
21.) Lincoln Chafee
22.) Jim Gilmore
Trump gets all the headlines, and Bernie gets all the buzz. But online, like off, it’s Hillary Clinton with the commanding lead. At 4.13 million followers, the Democratic frontrunner has about 200,000 more than Trump, and more than 10 times the followers of both her biggest rival on the left (Bernie Sanders at 381K) and on the right (Jeb Bush at 279K). When Hillary flexes her Twitter muscles—especially on a gimme like equal pay or gun control—she’s tough to beat.
What else? On the Republican side, there’s Trump and there’s everyone else.
Given The Donald’s domination in the polls and in the media, it’s no surprise that the once-and-future reality TV star also has a commanding lead on the rest of his GOP rivals on Twitter. With nearly 4 million followers, Trump has more than four times the reach of Marco Rubio, who has the second-most followers in the Republican field. Trump’s particular brand of belligerence is perfectly suited to the hostile world of Twitter, where 140-word nuance is difficult to find. This past week alone, Trump has found success by bludgeoning his rivals, both real and perceived: His attacks on Lindsey Graham and Megyn Kelly were retweeted more than 3,000 times, while his digs at Jeb Bush and Bernie Sanders both received more than 4,000 retweets.
Last thing: When it doubt, attack!
Trump’s not the only one to find social media success by going on the offensive. Roughly a third the candidates’ top tweets from this week were an attack of some kind, from Rand Paul’s Clinton and Bush two-for to George Pataki’s ongoing quest to say Trump’s name even more than Trump does. Americans like to retweet heartfelt messages of condolences—but not nearly as much as they like to cheer on a good political punch.