Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders win Twitter Power Rankings again.

The 29-Year-Old Behind Trump’s Social Media Success

The 29-Year-Old Behind Trump’s Social Media Success

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Oct. 2 2015 3:09 PM

This Week’s 2016 Twitter Power Rankings

Donald Trump greets supporters, tourists and the curious after taping an interview with Anderson Cooper at a Trump owned building in mid-town Manhattan on July 22, 2015 in New York City.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Rectangles are sized by number of retweets. Click on a candidate to zoom in.
Interactive by Andrew Kahn

Hello and welcome to Week 6 of the Slatest’s 2016 Twitter Power Rankings. Above, you’ll find our 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 which 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 again:

  • For the rankings below, we’re defining a candidate’s most successful tweet as the one that receives the most retweets.
  • 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.)
  • 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 at around 10 a.m. to cull all the data.

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

1.) Bernie Sanders (Last week: 1)


2.) Donald Trump (2)

3.) Hillary Clinton (3)

4.) Ben Carson (4)

5.) Ted Cruz (6)


6.) Martin O'Malley (11)

7.) Mike Huckabee (8)

8.) Jeb Bush (7)

9.) Rick Santorum (14)


10.) Rand Paul (5)

11.) Marco Rubio (9)

12.) Carly Fiorina (10)

13.) George Pataki (17)


14.) Bobby Jindal (15)

15.) John Kasich (13)

16.) Chris Christie (16)

17.) Lawrence Lessig (20)


18.) Lindsey Graham (12)

19.) Lincoln Chafee (18)

20.) Jim Webb (19)

21.) Jim Gilmore (21)

Overall RT Winner: the Donald!

As has become painfully clear by now, Trump tweets like no one else in the field. What wasn’t clear until this week, though, was whom the GOP front-runner has to thank for his social media success: Justin McConney, the 29-year-old son of a Trump exec. According to Politico, McConney became Trump’s director of social media in 2011 after stints working on the billionaire’s beauty pageants and reality television shows. In the four-plus years since, Trump’s gone from 300,000 followers to more than 4.3 million. Among the stunts that McConney’s given credit for: His boss’s previous participation in the ice bucket challenge, which garnered more than 1.3 million YouTube views, and more recently, his brutal Instagram attacks on Jeb Bush.

Single Tweet Winner: Bernie!

For the second week running, Sanders managed to best Clinton (and Trump) in the single tweet RT wars. This time, though, it was on a topic one would think Hillary would have an advantage on as the only woman in the Democratic race: Planned Parenthood and women’s health. Still, Clinton was anything but silent on the issue: Two of her five most RT-ed tweets were #StandWithPP-related. Republicans, meanwhile, were also using the organization to rile up their base: Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, and Rick Santorum all found their own success on the #DefundPP side of the debate.

Responding to Roseburg: Prayers vs. calls for action.*

Clinton and Martin O'Malley both took to Twitter following Thursday’s mass shooting in Oregon to call for stricter gun laws—a sentiment they shared with President Obama, who told Americans that “our thoughts and prayers are not enough.” Condolences, though, were the only thing the GOP field had to offer.

*Correction Oct. 2, 2015: An earlier version of this post misspelled the name of the city where Thursday's mass shooting took place. It is Roseburg, not Roseberg.

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

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