August 2019 in Political Twitter

By Avery Wendell (@awendell98)

Responding to some feedback, we added all of the remaining Democratic Presidential Candidate tweets. For candidates with two handles (e.g. Kamala Harris), we included their personal account.  A lot of these candidates surged to the top of the list of accounts that generate the most likes per tweet in our sample. This month Bernie Sanders, Beto O'Rourke, and Elizabeth Warren were near the top.

While Donald Trump’s dominance continued -- as he generated far-and-away the most likes of anyone in our sample -- AOC fell from second to fourth in total likes generated. This was not due to a change in her rate -- she maintained the second highest like average per tweet -- but instead was the result of her taking a brief hiatus from Twitter after the departure of her chief of staff. 

O'Rourke's ascendancy to a Twitter perch above his polling one is part-and-parcel with his centrality to the reaction to the El Paso massacre, which dominated political Twitter at the beginning of the month. Below is a chart with the number of tweets and the total likes of those tweets containing the words “El Paso” from the accounts we are tracking.

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O’Rouke’s chart is below. The Congressman, who is from El Paso, has served as its mayor, and whose district contains the city, had his highest volume days of tweeting in the days after the massacre and some of his most-liked tweets were about the massacre and pointing out President Trump’s role in causing it. 

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After the coverage of the massacres, Greenland became a topic that dominated Twitter as Trump proposed purchasing the island from Denmark. The seemingly out-of-nowhere proposal and Trump canceling a meeting with the Danish Prime Minister after she rejected Trump’s overtures out-of-hand were the talk of political Twitter during the middle part of the month. 

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The El Paso Shooting and Greenland proposal breaking through demonstrates how the dramatic, macabre, and the absurd can capture the attention of political Twitter. Indeed nothing is more emblematic of what does and does not capture political Twitter’s attention than the fact prior to Trump tweeting about buying Greenland, the only tweets mentioning the island in our sample, referenced the massive recent losses of ice as climate change accelerates the thawing of the Arctic.

As always, we welcome your feedback. We have included dashboards for you to play with yourself; suggest new accounts and new analysis. For reference, the total accounts now being tracked are @realDonaldTrump, @AOC, @GOPLeader, @senatemajldr, @SpeakerPelosi, @SenSchumer, @CNN, @thehill, @ABC, @nytimes, @MSNBC, @NBCNews, @seanhannity, @washingtonpost, @Reuters, @CoryBooker, @PeteButtigieg, @JulianCastro, @JohnDelaney, @TulsiGabbard, @KamalaHarris, @amyklobuchar, @ewarren, @JoeBiden, @EricHolder, @BetoORourke, @BernieSanders, @AndrewYang, @marwilliamson, @GovernorBullock, @TimRyan, @RepTimRyan, @WayneMessam, @GovBillWeld, @MichaelBennet, @BilldeBlasio, and @TomSteyer

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