Last night’s Vice Presidential Debate between Virginia Senator Tim Kaine and Indiana Governor Mike Pence revealed a sad truth: Republicans are better organized on social media than Democrats.
This is not to say that Democrats or progressive leaning social media participants aren’t occasionally effect (witness the recent success of the keyword “Hillary Clinton For President”, which reached Twitter world-wide trends or the giant number of anti-Trump tweets from the first Clinton-Trump Debate), but for the 2016 Vice Presidential Debate, the GOP trounced the Democratic Party.
The data that backs this claim comes from a post-debate analysis conducted by social media analysis firm Talkwalker. The company provided a set of statistics and conclusions to this blogger that, overall, spell a victory for the GOP. Here’s what was reported, word-for-word, to this blogger by Talkwalker spokesperson Carrie Butler:
1. Mike Pence gets more overall buzz than Tim Kaine with 1.5 million online mentions during the debate compared to 1.2 million for Kaine. (9pm to 11pm ET)
2. Biggest peak of discussion came at around 10:32pm when discussion turned abortion when mentions hit over 42,000 per minute
3. #VPDebate was used over 2.2 million times during the debate
4. Other top hashtags included #BigLeagueTruth used 59.6k times and #Guccifer2 used 38k times and both were used extensively by Donald Trump social accounts
5. #Guccifer2 relates to the hacker who hacking into the Democratic National Committee computer networks and leaked documents to The Hill.
6. #BigeagueTruth is a social media campaign set up by The Trump Campaign to take over the conversation during the debate. Stats suggest this strategy had some success as it was the 2nd most used hashtag after #VPDebate during the debate itself.
7. Most shared tweets on the night were all from Trump. Contrast to the anti-Trump sentiment of top tweets for the 1st Trump Clinton debate:
11. Top elections themes included women, abortion and law all linked to the issue of abortion. Abortion, which had not been a huge topic mentioned in social media throughout the campaign, has increased by 459.5 percent.
12. Other top themes included law enforcement relating in part to Pence’s comments about the police.
13. Issue of US’s relationship with Russia and Donald Trump’s tax returns also gained some traction
14. Total level of conversation during VP debate was around 7.5m million across all online and social media channels compared to around 16 million during the presidential debate last week.
This information from Talkwalker provides more evidence that the GOP has a highly organized group of people attempting to to dominate the social media conversation after the debates.
I say “more” evidence because The Washington Post’s Gilad Lotan provided an excellent breakdown of how the hashtag #TrumpWon reached Twitter World-wide Trend status (it wasn’t Russian hackers), and came to the conclusion that thousands of Twitter users issued tweets with the same hashtag between a two hour period after the Clinton-Trump debate ended.
When #TrumpWon became a Twitter World-wide trend, Donald Trump himself sent out a tweet using it, and since he has over 12 million followers (way up from the 2 million he had two years ago), that sent the hashtag to a level of use so high, it lasted as a Twitter World-wide Trend well into the next day after the contest.
#ThatMexicanThing Driven By Democratic-Friendly Media Sites
What is most surprising to this blogger is that, for all of the talk and tweets about it, the hashtag #ThatMexicanThing wasn’t the top one. Talkwalker didn’t even mention it in its post-debate analysis. So why the buzz about it? The news reported from Democratic-Friendly media sites with large social media followings about it, and how Latinos were responding to it.
First, we have to recap how the hashtag #ThatMexicanThing became a thing on Twitter. It started when Senator Tim Kaine blasted Donald Trump and Mike Pence for Trump’s racist comments about Mexicans. Governor Pence responded with “There you go with that Mexican thing, again.” That comment set Twitter afire, but in light of the data analysis, it was for a moment and didn’t take over social media from a per-content perspective. That said, it was the third-most tweeted about moment of the debate. Moreover, someone created the URL thatMexicanthing.com and directed it to the Hillary Clinton For President Website.
But what’s driving its appearance in post-debate media coverage and tweets, are re-tweeted articles about how the hashtag was used to celebrate the positive accomplishments of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans.
Take Mashable’s post on the subject, which has been shared 1,600 times on social media as of this writing. Its clear the political contest has come down to a battle of the GOP’s focused and organized social media effort versus a disorganized and more organic one that favors Democrats and progressives.
The question is why?
While it’s hard to pin down what’s behind the Democratic Party’s seeming disinterest in coordinated social media messaging, this blogger can provide his own experience with Dems. After having one of the first blogs ever invited to cover a Democratic National Convention in 2008, and then invited back in 2012, my press application was inexplicably rejected by the Democratic National Convention in 2016. This, even as I have been on the White House Press List and a consistent content producer with respect to politics and most notably in defense of the President of The United States, and that my entire web and social graph in 30 times larger today than in 2008.
After the rejection action, the Democratic National Convention was informed that CNN wrote about this blogger’s work in January of this year. That triggered an email that my application would be reconsidered – but no answer. Upset over the treatment, I took to social media using YouTube to vlog about the problem. I received a comment from the editor of a newspaper in Montana and of 50,000 subscribers, who said he received similar treatment. Both of us are Democratic supporters.
I wrote Donna Brazile, the new Chairperson of the Democratic Party, about the problem and in an email to all of the top executives of the Democratic Party. Brazile wrote back that she would follow up with me, but to this date never has. From reports and analysis of blogger lists, the GOP is far better organized and coordinated than the Democratic Party with respect to social media and blogs.
While polls have been friendly to Hillary Clinton, thus having many assume a November victory, it’s politically dangerous to rely on traditional 20th Century media approaches to the delivery of a message, as the Democratic Party is doing. If there’s any truth to the idea that one can manufacture consent, the Republican Party is at least trying to create the idea that their candidates are the debate winners.
Social Media Today Must Be A Focus Of Any Messaging Campaign
It doesn’t matter if its an Oakland Raiders game or an SF Bay Area Event at Michaan’s Auctions, in Alameda, social media has to be a major focus of any messaging campaign today. According to a Pew Research Study released in May of this year, 62 percent of American adults get their news from social media, and 18 percent do so often. That includes Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and even Linkedin.
This doesn’t discount the impact of television, but it does signal the death of print newspapers as a major source of news for the public. The game has changed, and the Democratic Party has to wake up to that fact now, before its too late.