IN THE 2020 RACE, WHAT IS THE VALUE OF SOCIAL MEDIA STARDOM?

WIRED | 4/17/2019 | Issie Lapowsky
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If you were to get all of your news last month from Twitter (and, well, maybe you did), you might reasonably conclude that the Democrat to beat in 2020 is none other than a 37-year-old Indiana mayor with a knack for linguistics and a tongue-twister of a name. According to the social media monitoring service Crowdtangle, Pete Buttigieg got the most interactions on Twitter of any Democratic candidate over the past 30 days. But if you were to take just one glance at how much cash each Democratic candidate has—a time-honored proxy for figuring out who the front-runner is—you would see that same name, Pete Buttigieg, way down toward the bottom of the list of 2020 contenders.

That stands to reason, of course. The candidate with the biggest bank account, Senator Bernie Sanders, declared his candidacy long before Buttigieg and already had a robust list of donors from his 2016 presidential run. The second richest, Senator Elizabeth Warren, transferred more than $10 million from her senate race, and the former Maryland congressman, John Delaney, donated nearly $12 million of his own money to his campaign.

Gap - Buttigieg - Success - Twitter - Metrics

And yet it's hard to ignore the glaring gap between Buttigieg's success on Twitter and the other, more tangible metrics, like money, that have traditionally framed the presidential horse race. The disparity raises a distinctly modern question about campaigning in the social media age: What value does a candidate's internet stardom have?

Issie Lapowsky covers the intersection of tech, politics, and national affairs for WIRED.

Problem - Question - Data - Twitter - Years—or

The biggest problem with answering that question is that there's limited data to work with. Twitter, after all, is just 12 years—or precisely three presidential cycles—old. We know that at least one president masterfully used it during his campaign to circumvent the press, drive the news cycle, and command more coverage than all of...
(Excerpt) Read more at: WIRED
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