Bush Leads Endorsement Race, But Pols Listen To Paul

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, June 23, 2015

The 2016 U.S. presidential race is shaping up to be extremely competitive, particularly for GOP candidates. In recent weeks, we’ve seen the addition of many new contenders for both major political parties — including Jeb Bush, Martin O’Malley, and even Donald Trump. Of course, each candidate will soon be looking to get their respective party’s nomination, and this will require front-runners to have strong support from fellow politicians.

As FiveThirtyEight reports, front-runners have historically begun with a high number of endorsements early into their campaigns. In the GOP field, at least, there isn’t yet a particular candidate who seems to have as high a share of early endorsements as candidates in the past. Jeb Bush has more endorsements than the other Republican politicians campaigning, but so far he’s still in need of many more to have a significant chance at becoming the front-runner. As of last week, Bush had 13 endorsement points compared to Rand Paul, with 12. 

Endorsements matter, but are they truly indicative of how much attention a campaigning politician is receiving? To find an answer, we took a look at Paul and Bush’s profiles on a social network heavily associated with politics: Twitter. In order to gauge how much attention a candidate is receiving, we decided to analyze their respective followers. The candidate with more political organizations or politicians following them would be indicative of a candidate with more influential ears listening in.

From our research, we found that while Bush has more endorsements so far, Paul’s message reaches 32% more political entities on Twitter, and that he uses the platform far more often and more effectively than does Bush — in the last month, his profile has tweeted 405 times, while Bush’s has only tweeted 144. In other words, more potential endorsers are hearing from Paul than they are Bush, and they’re hearing from him much more often.

Who are their audiences?

Unlike Paul, whose American political audience is 16% left-leaning or undecided, Bush’s is completely right-leaning. 

Half of Bush’s political followers also follow Paul, while about one-third of Paul’s follow Bush. Here are some of those prominent names:

1. Newt Gingrich

2. Reince Priebus

3. Eric Cantor

4. Darrell Issa

5. Chuck Schumer

6. Mia Love

7. Rick Klein

8. Tom Coburn

9. Jeff Zeleny

10. Scott P. Brown

11. Mark Kirk

12. Pat Toomey

13. Bill Bennett

14. Cathy McMorris Rodgers

15. John Barrasso

16. Jerry Moran

17. Trent Franks

18. Bob Latta

19. Randy Forbes

20. Kenny Marchant

21. Bill Flores 

Interestingly enough, Bush follows Paul, but Paul doesn’t follow Bush back.

The missing piece

Though Paul seems ahead by most margins, one fact ties these two front-runners’ Twitter presences together, and not in a good way: their basically non-existent response rate to their supporters. 

Every quarter, we explore how brands around the world are communicating with their fans on social media to find out which respond well and are “Socially Devoted.” Politicians could learn from brands in this case. When so much of a candidate’s team efforts goes to spreading and controlling the candidate’s message, why not take advantage of their eager audience and respond to the questions that come in? 

In the last month alone, followers have asked Bush 8,000 questions on Twitter. He has answered only one. Paul’s profile has seen 7,400 questions come in during that same time period, and hasn’t responded to any of them. They’d both be well-served by changing that, fast.

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