2016 Twitter power rankings: Jeb Bush scores big with mom tweet, Bernie Sanders scores often with debate commentary.

Jeb! Finally Wins Something (With the Help of His Mom)

Jeb! Finally Wins Something (With the Help of His Mom)

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Sept. 18 2015 1:18 PM

This Week's (New and Improved) 2016 Twitter Power Rankings

Jeb Bush shows off a Reagan/Bush '84 tee-shirt as he speaks during a Miami field office opening on September 12, 2015 in Miami, Floria.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Click on a candidate to zoom in.
Interactive by Andrew Kahn

Hello and welcome to Week 4 of the Slatest’s 2016 Twitter Power Rankings, where you’ll notice things look a little different this week. Above, you’ll find a handy interactive of the entire week’s worth of candidate tweets: how many each White House hopeful sent and how often they were retweeted and favorited, along with how each fared in the 140-character fight with their political rivals on both sides of the aisle. (Click to zoom in on a particular candidate, and click again to see the content of each tweet.)

Below, meanwhile, you’ll find our tried-and-true method of ranking each candidate’s single most successful tweet of the past seven days. Together, the two offer a helpful snapshot of what topics dominated the political conversation online, and also give us some insight into which contenders are winning the campaign Twitter wars and why.


The ground rules (which have been tweaked slightly this week to account for our shiny new toy):

  1. For the rankings below, we’re defining a candidate’s most successful tweet as the one that receives the most retweets.
  2. Tweets that include a direct request for a retweet are ineligible for the traditional rankings because that’s cheating. RT if you agree! (Retweet-begging tweets, though, will still appear in the interactive at the top.)
  3. Only tweets from the past seven days are eligible. Since we’ll publish the weekly rankings every Friday, that means any tweet sent in the seven days prior to when we hit the big red button shortly before 10 a.m. to cull all the data.

You’ll find this week’s takeaways at the bottom, but without any further ado:

1.) Jeb Bush (Last week: 11)


2.) Bernie Sanders (2)

3.) Hillary Clinton (3)

4.) Donald Trump (Last week: 1)

5.) Ben Carson (5)


6.) Rand Paul (8)

7.) Carly Fiorina (9)

8.) Ted Cruz (4)

9.) Marco Rubio (13)


10.) Mike Huckabee (7)

11.) George Pataki (10)

12.) Bobby Jindal (6)

13.) Chris Christie (20)


14.) Scott Walker (12)  

15.) John Kasich (16)

16.) Martin O’Malley (17)

17.) Rick Santorum (15)


18.) Lindsey Graham (18)

19.) Lincoln Chafee (21)

20.) Lawrence Lessig (unranked)

21.) Jim Webb (19)

22.) Jim Gilmore (22)

Dropped out: Rick Perry

Single Tweet Winner: Jeb!

Jeb Bush wasn’t the big winner at Thursday’s GOP debate—that honor went to Carly Fiorina—but the one-time Republican front-runner did manage to display enough much-needed life during the marathon event to score big online. The moment that resonated the most in our rankings was his very public admission on stage that he smoked pot back in his youth. “Forty years ago, I smoked marijuana and I admit it,” Bush said after Rand Paul and the moderators alluded to the fact (which had previously been reported). "I’m sure that other people might have done it and may not want to say it in front of 25 million people. My mom’s not happy that I just did." (As you can see in the interactive, though, Jeb didn’t have anywhere close to the same success with the rest of his online musings and rejoinders.)

Overall RT Winner: Bernie!

While the Republican field was duking it out on stage in Southern California, Bernie Sanders was scoring left and left on Twitter. Thanks in large part to his #DebateWithBernie-themed commentary on Thursday, Sanders accounted for roughly 40 percent of the total RTs accrued by the entire field this week. He was an equal opportunity GOP attacker, too, hitting everyone from Donald Trump to John Kasich, while also playing to type by peppering his CNN play-by-play with plenty of policy talk.

Loser: Donald.

No the honorific for Trump this week. The brash billionaire was unable to bowl over his rivals with the sheer force of his ego on the debate stage, and had a similarly—albeit relatively—lackluster showing on social media, normally a safe haven for the tough-talking GOP front-runner. Adding insult to injury: His most RT’d message of the past seven days was one he clearly would have liked to have back. In it, Trump—or whoever runs Trump’s account—trumpeted the apparent endorsement of some random user’s dad. In reality, though, that faux-support was coming from a prankster who had sent along a photo of Jeremy Corbyn, the newly elected leader of the British Labour Party. Whoops.

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in northeast Ohio.

Andrew Kahn is Slate’s assistant interactives editor. Follow him on Twitter.