In the world of Twitter and Facebook hashtags, the potential 2016 presidential candidates who generate the most buzz are former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, according to Politico.
On Facebook, Clinton and Cruz together racked up 40 percent of posts and comments having to with the 2016 presidential race. On Twitter, both got 47 percent of mentions on the topic.
And while former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush attracts plenty of media attention, he’s virtually ignored on social media, getting a lowly 3 percent of Facebook mentions and 2 percent of tweets, Politico noted. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, did even worse, with just 1 percent of Facebook mentions.
Lots of attention, however, does not equal gobs of love.
“The mentions cut both ways, including negative comments as well as positive ones,” Politico noted, adding, “But they reflect the extent to which Clinton, a long-standing subject of debate, and Cruz, who casts himself as a conservative renegade, have dominated the conversation at a time when others are trying to gin up some grass-roots energy.”
In polls of Democratic voters, Hillary Clinton has tended to lead as the favorite potential 2016 candidate. But among Republican voters, Cruz consistently trails other possible GOP contenders.
How much does chatter on Facebook and Twitter matter in the larger scheme of presidential politics?
Plenty, experts say.
“Imperfect as it is, [Facebook] is probably the biggest trove of data of what actual human beings outside of Washington, D.C., are talking about day-to-day and that makes it intrinsically important, and these platforms are actually important for reaching people and motivating them,” Teddy Goff, a former digital director for Obama’s reelection campaign, told Politico.
“Anything that gives indication as to who’s sort of breaking through and seems to be of interest and topical among the gigantic sampling of Americans is important,” he said. “To the extent it’s correlated to who is going to have the ability to mobilize people, that’s going to have actual outcomes.”
Those who work for the unofficial “Ready for Hillary” PAC say they rely on social media to give momentum to the former first lady.
“What matters is [Clinton is] part of the discourse. [It’s] about having conversations and amplifying a message,” said Nickie Titus, the digital director for the Ready for Hillary campaign.
“One of the things that’s really great, particularly on Twitter, is a way to amplify the message, then people can keep spreading it which you see with her hashtag or when people are retweeting her handle. It’s helping her spread her word.”
Cruz’s camp agrees.
“Our main strategy is to be as engaging with our content as possible, whether that’s by thinking of ways to generate comments, likes or shares - this all helps boost the appearance of our posts in people’s timelines,” said Josh Perry, Cruz’s digital director. “Of course, that all begins with having a clear and direct message about something people care about, whether it is about the economy, national security, healthcare or any other issue.”
The Ready for Hillary Facebook page has 2.1 million likes. Cruz has 1.9 million likes combined on two Facebook pages.
On Twitter, Clinton's official account, @HillaryClinton, has almost 2.5 million followers; Cruz has nearly 700,000 followers total between two Twitter accounts, @SenTedCruz and @TedCruz.