As nearly two dozen Democrats convene in Miami for the first Democratic debate, this may be the best — and potentially last — chance for many of them to find the “breakout moment” they need to increase poll numbers and fundraising to make it to future debates. And while the talking heads of cable news will try to decipher the back-and-forth and declare winners and losers, there is a more quantifiable way to track whether or not anyone gained any ground: social conversation.
We’ve been tracking baseline social conversation around each of the 2020 candidates since last year, and while tweets don’t factor into the DNC’s criteria, it could be an early indication of what the week-after looks like.
After looking at the last month of social conversation, here’s where things stand headed into tonight:
- It’s a three-person race. Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren have clearly separated themselves from the pack going into the first debate. That’s not news — we see it in polling and fundraising numbers too. Biden leads with 27.1%, Bernie follows with 18.9%, and Warren is at 14.6%
- The second-tier is also relatively clear…with a big exception. Conventional wisdom says that Pete Buttigieg, Beto O’Rourke, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris are behind the first group but above the others. Social conversation does too. But conventional wisdom leaves out another person: Andrew Yang. Harris is at 8.85%, Mayor Pete pulls 6.2% of conversation, Beto takes 4.67%, Yang is at 3.45%, and Booker is at 3.2%.
- The rest are the rest. There is a handful of others — Harris, Swalwell, Klobuchar — somewhere between one and three percent, with everyone else well below, but if you’re sitting at 1.5% and behind others 9 other candidates, it’s probably going to take more than one debate to permanently shift your numbers.