The Politics of Twitter: Who 2020 Candidates Tweet About Most

June 5, 2019, 1:47 PM UTC

President Donald Trump has made himself the talk of Twitter.

According to Twitter analytics site Twitonomy, Trump’s @realDonaldTrump page is the account most often mentioned by Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and 2020 candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren. Each of these politicians have mentioned Trump’s account hundreds of times within their past 3,200 tweets (the maximum number able to be analyzed).

Trump, meanwhile, mentions @FoxNews the most, followed by @foxandfriends. Fox, reportedly the president’s favorite news source, has been blasted for its alleged evolution into a megaphone for the Trump administration. Warren recently called the channel a “hate-for-profit machine” and vowed to boycott any debates hosted by the station.

Fox’s Twitter gives Trump notice in return: its most mentioned account is @POTUS, the president’s official Twitter page. Despite consisting almost entirely of retweets from @realDonaldTrump, the @POTUS account tops Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Twitter mentions as well.

Many candidates in the crowded 2020 Democratic field have shaped their campaign around defeating Trump, and their Twitter pages show it.

Seth Moulton, a Massachusetts Rep and 2020 contender, said clearly in his campaign launch video, “I’m running because we have to beat Donald Trump.” Like Warren, his top mention on Twitter is @realDonaldTrump… followed by @GOP and @POTUS.

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Former Maryland Representative John Delaney, Ohio Representative Tim Ryan, and California Representative Eric Swalwell—all 2020 contenders—each have @realDonaldTrump at the top of their mentions as well.

Some candidates aren’t frequent Twitter users, but the statistics available are still telling. Michael Bennet, a Colorado senator and 2020 candidate, has sent out just more than 1,300 Tweets over the past 10 years. Still, @realDonaldTrump is his top mention. The same goes for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, the only Republican to announce a primary challenge against Trump so far, has only been tweeting since February of this year. His top mention, @realdDonaldTrump, accounts for nearly 6% of his tweets.

Trump doesn’t top everyone’s chart, however. Joe Biden, for example, has mentioned @BarackObama most frequently; Trump isn’t even on his Top 10. California Senator Kamala Harris has former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams as her most frequent mention, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has named former Florida gubernatorial Andrew Gilllum more than anyone else (although Trump is his second most-mentioned).

Washington Governor Jay Inslee, running on a climate change platform, mentions himself more often than any other account—but like with Sanders, @realDonaldTrump takes second place. San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro names mostly names his brother, also a Texas politician, with Trump taking third. Montana Governor Steve Bullock also names himself more than any other account, with second place going to his state’s lieutenant governor, and Trump nowhere in the ranking.

The mentions of Mayors Pete Buttigieg and Wayne Messam are mostly related to their official duties; Marianne Williamson, too, mentions accounts mostly related to her career as an author. New Jersey Senator Cory Booker has professional contacts as his first two top mentions, followed by @Spotify and @ApplePodcasts. Beto O’Rourke’s top mentions are mostly media, although R&B artist Khalid—who lived in O’Rourke’s hometown of El Paso for some time—takes fourth place with three mentions. None name Trump often enough to place him in their Top 10 mentions.

Of course, these rankings depend heavily on how the politicians use their accounts. Some may use @-mentions more often than others: in nearly 12 years, Biden’s account has only tweeted at Obama, his top mention, 28 times. Meanwhile, in just three years, Warren has mentioned Trump nearly 450 times. Other candidates may tweet about politics, but don’t directly address politicians like Trump with @-mentions.

That doesn’t mean it’s not noteworthy (or at least entertaining) that some 2020 candidate’s top mentions are completely unrelated to their career. Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, for example, has mentioned her state’s football team, the Vikings, 65 times in roughly two years. Senator Chuck Grassley is her second most-mentioned; Trump is nowhere on her Top 10.

Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper also names his football team the most (his being the Broncos). Trump falls into fourth place on Hickenlooper’s mentions.

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang’s top mentions is an eclectic mix, including comedian Joe Rogan (who hosts a podcast on which Yang appeared a handful of times) and MMA fighter Leslie Smith (Yang has been outspoken on the need to protect fighters’ rights). Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard’s top mention is @BlessedMMA, the account of Hawaiian UFC Champion Max Holloway, although Trump comes in second.

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