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People are paying more attention to Kamala Harris than her 2020 rivals, and that matters

People are paying more attention to Kamala Harris than her 2020 rivals, and that matters
Kamala Harris [Photo: Office of the Attorney General of California/Wikimedia Commons]

Voters seem to like Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA), at least on social media. While run-of-the-liberal-mill white guys (don’t @ me) Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) are more highly ranked in early polling, Harris is pulling ahead when it comes to another all-important metric, social media attention, where she is currently leading among Democrats in the opening days of the race to 2020.

Axios combed through data on CrowdTangle and Google Trends and found that Harris, still a relative newcomer on the national political scene, is getting a lot of attention online. On Google, Harris was searched twice as often as her next closest contenders–Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and potential candidate Sanders. Her lead also kept up on social media, where Harris had some 8.3 million interactions on Instagram and 14.4 million on Twitter, roughly twice as many as Sanders on both platforms and four times as many as Warren.

It’s worth noting, however, that Sanders had far higher levels of engagement on Facebook, which is a thinkpiece for another day. He racked up 22.1 million engagements on the social media site, far outstripping either Harris (2.4 million) or Warren (2.3 million).

Of course, social media isn’t just about engagement. It’s about growth. And according to Axios, since announcing her candidacy, Harris has been gaining new followers at a rapid clip. On Facebook, her main account has added 123,000 fans, which was more than double that of her next closest potential 2020 competitor, Beto O’Rourke, who added a mere 51,000. Her growth was even more marked on Instagram and Twitter, where people signed up to hear what Harris had to say.

The influence of social media on presidential races is relatively new, but it turned out to be predictive in the cases of Barack Obama and Donald Trump, both of whom attracted more engagement (positive and negative) than their rivals.

Where does that leave senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)? They have some catching up to do. Good thing 2020 is still a while off.

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