Total Mention Counts

At the end of our week long series on twitter mention tracking for the 2020 primary, Kamala Harris continues to be the most tweeted about potential Democratic candidate.

Count of Tweets Mentioning Potential Democratic Candidate in the Week Ending on January 18, 2019

We can break the field up into four tiers based on this week’s mention counts.

Candidate Tiers Based on January 18, 2019 Weekly Mention Counts

We’ll discuss the candidates in Tier 1 – Tier 3 in the sections to follow. Note that these tiers reflect only the state of Twitter exposure for these candidates during the week ending on Friday, January 18, 2019. This will definitely change–and in a race this dynamic, probably soon.1

Tier 1: The Most Discussed Candidates

Kamala Harris

We showed the past month’s results for Kamala Harris in yesterday’s post. Today we will present her numbers for this week only, both for completeness and to allow apples-to-apples comparison with the other candidates. 

Count of Candidate Mentions in Tweets Mentioning Kamala Harris in the Week Ending on January 18, 2019

Harris has both the largest count of mentions and is most likely to be mentioned in tweets that do not mention any of the other candidates. Bear her mention count of over 186,000 in mind when considering the raw mention counts in the sections to follow. She has ten times the mentions of most of the other candidate. But much of this conversation comes from the right side of the political spectrum.

Distribution of Users Mentioning Kamala Harris during the Week Ending on January 18, 2019

Elizabeth Warren

When actively engaged in campaign activity, Elizabeth Warren gets people talking. Warren is the only candidate able to dramatically outpace Harris in mention counts for sustained periods. Her overall counts are roughly comparable, although she is co-mentioned in her tweets at a slightly higher rate.

Count of Candidate Mentions in Tweets Mentioning Elizabeth Warren in the Week Ending on January 18, 2019

Tier 2: Contenders Building an Audience

After successful campaign announcements, these candidates will probably be mentioned at Tier 1 rates as soon as they establish themselves slightly more in the primary media environment.

Julian Castro

Castro has a solid mention count, owing to some media events last weekend. He is rarely mentioned with other candidates.

Count of Candidate Mentions in Tweets Mentioning Julian Castro in the Week Ending on January 18, 2019

His mentions are primarily from left-of-center users, including a relatively large proportion of verified users (light green). 

Distribution of Users Mentioning Julian Castro during the Week Ending on January 18, 2019

Castro is well-positioned to be a formidable contender in the social media conversation. 

Outlier: Bernie Sanders

I call Bernie an outlier because he already has a national audience. So he doesn’t really belong with these other “Tier 2” candidates. And his mention activity this week is not campaign-related per se. Furthermore, it’s not clear that he even intends to run. 

Count of Candidate Mentions in Tweets Mentioning Bernie Sanders in the Week Ending on January 18, 2019

The conversation about Bernie is concentrated on the left. 

Distribution of Users Mentioning Bernie Sanders during the Week Ending on January 18, 2019

But it centers on his failure to vote on a Senate sanctions bill, and a series of other “soft on Russia” votes he made in the past. 

Kirsten Gillibrand

Kirsten Gillibrand also delivered some successful media events this week And she saw a related surge in mention activity. Gillibrand shares a higher proportion of her mentions with other candidates than Castro, but at still tolerable levels. 

Count of Candidate Mentions in Tweets Mentioning Kirsten Gillibrand in the Week Ending on January 18, 2019

Gillbrand is largely mentioned by left-of-center accounts. She also appears to draw a lot of attention from verified users.

Distribution of Users Mentioning Kirsten Gillibrand during the Week Ending on January 18, 2019

Castro and Gillibrand are similarly positioned to play as Tier 1 contenders in the next phase of the primary.

Like Bernie, however, the concentration of conversation on the left should not be over-interpreted as smooth sailing for Gillibrand. Scanning her tweets reveals that a large proportion represent lingering internal battles between Democrats. The seriousness of these rifts remains to be seen, and we leave it open for a more detailed future discussion.

Tier 3: Dark Horses

A few candidates made campaign moves this week, but nonetheless remain below 50,000 mentions. They could each catch on later. But it’s not immediately obvious that a large constituency for these candidates is available within the Democratic Party in the context of the 2020 presidential primary.  Only time will tell.

And then there’s Joe Biden.

Tulsi Gabbard

Tulsi Gabbard announced her candidacy this week and experienced a brief surge on mentions immediately afterward. Gabbard shares a large proportion of her mentions with other candidates.

Count of Candidate Mentions in Tweets Mentioning Tulsi Gabbard in the Week Ending on January 18, 2019

And the bulk of the conversation is happening on the left.

Distribution of Users Mentioning Tulsi Gabbard during the Week Ending on January 18, 2019

Closer inspection reveals a high proportion of negative attitudes, especially about LGBT issues and foreign policy. Gabbard could perform well with a Bernie-style populist base, but she has some ground to make up with other important constituencies within the party.

Cory Booker

Cory Booker has not made explicit moves in the 2020 campaign. But he is still getting mentioned at a Tier 3 rate. His mentions are shared with other candidates at a higher-than-usual rate.

Count of Candidate Mentions in Tweets Mentioning Cory Booker in the Week Ending on January 18, 2019

Despite his silence on campaign plans, Booker is a popular topic of right-leaning Twitter users. 

Distribution of Users Mentioning Cory Booker during the Week Ending on January 18, 2019

Most of the tweets appear to be complaints about his actions as a US Senator on the Judiciary Committee. 

Outlier: Joe Biden

Obviously a former VPOTUS is not a Tier 3 candidate. But his coyness about a potential candidacy and a lack of recent exposure have given Biden a low mention count. And he is quite often sharing it with other potential candidates.

Count of Candidate Mentions in Tweets Mentioning Joe Biden in the Week Ending on January 18, 2019

Biden is discussed by the entire range of the electorate, but slightly more extensively by right-of-center mentioners. 

Distribution of Users Mentioning Joe Biden during the Week Ending on January 18, 2019

The commentary about Biden is scattered and inconsistent. There do not appear to be any dominant themes or attacks.

Tier 4: Some Bonus Selections

A few candidates below the 15,000 mention cutoff are worthy of mention.

Sherrod Brown

Sherrod Brown announced this week that he will be going on a listening tour. His mention count suggests he is still a niche candidate.

Count of Candidate Mentions in Tweets Mentioning Sherrod Brown in the Week Ending on January 18, 2019

But wide support on the left and coverage by a number of verified accounts could bode well for a future breakthrough.

Distribution of Users Mentioning Sherrod Brown during the Week Ending on January 18, 2019

Sherrod Brown could be a contender. And the slow-and-steady approach may be his special sauce.

Amy Klobuchar

Amy Klobuchar has not yet made any explicit moves. Still, she is mentioned more often than Sherrod Brown.

Count of Candidate Mentions in Tweets Mentioning Amy Klobuchar in the Week Ending on January 18, 2019

And Klobuchar’s coverage is extremely similar to Brown’s.

Distribution of Users Mentioning Amy Klobuchar during the Week Ending on January 18, 2019

We will keep an eye on both of these candidates, even if their current level of promotion falls beneath our cutoffs for top tier candidates.

Understanding the Content

Clearly, the content and tone of these conversations are every bit as important as the bias of the audiences having them. Understanding the language and concepts at play is a major priority at Marvelous AI. So the focus of our posts will take a content-oriented turn starting next week.

  1. Of course, to the usual list of caveats we should add that we are still kicking the tires on both the Tweet collection and bias-classification components of our system. They are trust-worthy, but approximate.

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