Which of the current presidential hopefuls have the strongest social media base? You might be surprised. Rand Paul blows Hilary Clinton away on Facebook, while Clinton creams Paul on Twitter. No one likes Jeb Bush.
Since there are many candidates, I'm only including those with social media followings above 10k on the major platforms, and only those who have formally declared their intent and are not in the speculative "exploring" state.
By the numbers, declared Republican candidates for President:
- Rand Paul: 1.9mil FB likes | 617k Twitter followers
- Mike Huckabee: 1.7mil FB likes | 336k Twitter followers
- Ben Carson: 1.4mil FB likes | 346k Twitter followers
- Ted Cruz: 1.2mil FB likes | 409k Twitter followers
- Marco Rubio: 858k FB likes | 738k Twitter followers
- Jeb Bush: 176k FB likes | 189k Twitter followers
- Carly Fiorina: 55k FB likes | 366k Twitter followers
Declared Democratic candidates for President:
- Bernie Sanders: 1.5mil FB likes (on two pages) | 327k Twitter followers
- Hilary Clinton: 834k FB likes | 3.55mil Twitter followers
- Paul Chehade: 246k FB likes | 29k Twitter followers
- Robby Wells: FB info private | 27k Twitter followers
As per other platforms, Rand Paul — who has a strong internet base — has 200k+ followers on Google+, whereas Hilary Clinton only has 629. Get digitally savvy, Clintonistas! Even Rubio has 1k on the Goog. Social frontrunners Clinton and Paul are both on Instagram, but neither crack 30k followers. There's no sign of the candidates on Pinterest, except for that one time Paul set up an unfunny Clinton parody account.
What have we learned from this numbers grab? Well, in a dystopian future where social media determines eligibility, Rand Paul would win the Facebook presidency by a mile (maybe with help from VP Mike Huckabee — wouldn't that be an interesting ticket). Hilary Clinton would be crowned Queen of Twitter, but in a Democratic Facebook run-off she's far behind Bernie Sanders.
Although the media appears dedicated to broadcasting his every opinion, the public social media interest in Jeb Bush would seem to hover somewhere around nil. By contrast, Kylie Jenner, the youngest Kardashian, has 48 times as many Twitter followers as the baby Bush brother.
What intrigues me are the platform discrepancies: that Republicans Paul, Huckabee, Cruz, Carlson et al have such a strong Facebook presence while they're lacking on Twitter; meanwhile, the reverse is true for Clinton.
Senator Bernie Sanders is rockin' the Facebook likes (he has one from me!) but Sanders' digital legacy is likely the result of years as a legislative renegade, rather than his recent declaration to run. Junior Senator Marco Rubio has a pretty even balance across the platforms, likely due to his aiming for a younger Republican demographic.
Other elements have to be considered alongside these numbers, too: many candidates are active politicians, with a constituent base that wants to know what they're up to outside of potential Presidential politics. Some, like Huckabee, have become media figures and snakeoil peddlers, while others, like former HP CEO Fiorina, are well-known in entirely different industries. Clinton's years as Secretary of State and First Lady made her an international figure of some renown, and it's probable she has followers from all over the world.
It's likely that untold masses of "followers" across these platforms are bots, inactive, or people following out of interest rather than an intent to support. Many people "hate like" a candidate they dislike just to stay up-to-date on what they're saying, and ton of reporters are following because it's their job.
And of course we can't rule out unscrupulous campaigns buying fake follows to appear more popular than they are. Who can forget the day Mitt Romney miraculously gained 116k Twitter followers?
Image via Wikimedia Commons