The Slatest

This Week’s 2016 Twitter Power Rankings

Tweets are displayed during the Republican National Convention on Aug. 28, 2012, in Tampa, Florida.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Hello and welcome to the Slatest’s weekly 2016 Twitter Power Rankings, where every Friday we’ll round-up each of the White House hopeful’s most successful tweets from the past week. Why are we doing this? For starters, it will provide a helpful—if incomplete—snapshot of the topics that candidates are talking about online, and which of those are resonating with voters on social media. And, as the campaign continues to unfold online and off, it will also hopefully allow us to draw some conclusions about which candidates are winning the campaign Twitter wars and why.

A few ground rules up front:

  1. We’re defining a candidate’s most successful tweet as the one that receives the most retweets—though in the event two or more tweets are neck-and-neck, the one with significantly more favorites will get the edge.
  2. Tweets that include a direct request for a retweet are ineligible because that’s cheating. RT if you agree!
  3. If a candidate has more than one account, we’ll use the one tied to his or her official presidential campaign. (Or, in the case of blue checkmark-less Jim Gilmore, what we think is his official account.)
  4. Only tweets from the past seven days are eligible. Since we’ll try to publish the weekly rankings every Friday, that means any tweet sent between the past Saturday and the morning we go live.

You’ll find this week’s takeaways at the bottom, but without any further ado, here’s Week 1’s ranking:

1.) Hillary Clinton

2.) Donald Trump

3.) Bernie Sanders

4.) Ben Carson

5.) Ted Cruz

6.) Bobby Jindal

7.) George Pataki

8.) Marco Rubio

9.) Jeb Bush

10.) Rand Paul

11.) Carly Fiorina

12.) Scott Walker

13.) Rick Perry

14.) John Kasich

15.) Mike Huckabee

16.) Chris Christie

17.) Martin O’Malley

18.) Rick Santorum

19.) Jim Webb

20.) Lindsey Graham

21.) Lincoln Chafee

22.) Jim Gilmore

Winner: Hillary!

Trump gets all the headlines, and Bernie gets all the buzz. But online, like off, it’s Hillary Clinton with the commanding lead. At 4.13 million followers, the Democratic frontrunner has about 200,000 more than Trump, and more than 10 times the followers of both her biggest rival on the left (Bernie Sanders at 381K) and on the right (Jeb Bush at 279K). When Hillary flexes her Twitter muscles—especially on a gimme like equal pay or gun control—she’s tough to beat.

What else? On the Republican side, there’s Trump and there’s everyone else.

Given The Donald’s domination in the polls and in the media, it’s no surprise that the once-and-future reality TV star also has a commanding lead on the rest of his GOP rivals on Twitter. With nearly 4 million followers, Trump has more than four times the reach of Marco Rubio, who has the second-most followers in the Republican field. Trump’s particular brand of belligerence is perfectly suited to the hostile world of Twitter, where 140-word nuance is difficult to find. This past week alone, Trump has found success by bludgeoning his rivals, both real and perceived: His attacks on Lindsey Graham and Megyn Kelly were retweeted more than 3,000 times, while his digs at Jeb Bush and Bernie Sanders both received more than 4,000 retweets.

Last thing: When it doubt, attack!

Trump’s not the only one to find social media success by going on the offensive. Roughly a third the candidates’ top tweets from this week were an attack of some kind, from Rand Paul’s Clinton and Bush two-for to George Pataki’s ongoing quest to say Trump’s name even more than Trump does. Americans like to retweet heartfelt messages of condolences—but not nearly as much as they like to cheer on a good political punch.