EDIT: All wrong. Use of the wrong Facebook account artificially lowered Tillis’s number of followers on that site. The updated, corrected version, much more favorable to Tillis, is posted here.
It’s been two months since we last looked at social media follows for the candidates for the U.S. Senate in North Carolina. Since then, the most major development has been the decision by Renee Ellmers not to run. July also saw the entry of longshot candidate Heather Grant of Wilkesboro. In two months, what has changed? Let’s take a look. As always, the number on the left, next to the candidate name, represents likes on Facebook. The second number is followers on Twitter. We combine them and then rank the candidates accordingly.
1. Sen. Kay Hagan 13,359 + 18,014 = 31,373 (June total = 28,534) +2,839
2. Rep. Virginia Foxx 3,833 + 10,467 = 14,300 (June total = 13,714) +586
3. Sen. Phil Berger 2,054 + 3,535 = 5,589 (June total = 5,295) +294
4. Speaker Thom Tillis 1,201 + 4,102 = 5,303 (June total = 4,788) +515
5. Dr. Greg Brannon 3,419 + 538 = 3,957 (June total = 2,005) +1,952
6. Lynn Wheeler 74 + 782 = 856 (June total = 822) +34
7. Heather Grant 381 + 61 = 442 (June total = N/A) N/A
There are few changes this time around. Kay Hagan is far ahead in terms of social media follows, not surprising for an incumbent against unknown opponents. The ranking of the Republicans tends to mirror the strength of the respective candidates in GOP primary polling. With Ellmers out, Virginia Foxx is now the Republican leader, just as she is the frontrunner in polling.
The most impressive number here comes from Dr. Greg Brannon. He’s more than doubled his number of Facebook followers since May. Support on social media often tends to percolate upward. Brannon’s positioning of himself as the constitutional conservative is clearly having an effect, at least on the Internet. It’s still unclear whether or not he’ll be able to become a serious contender, but he’s definitely someone to keep an eye on. The big question is whether or not Brannon’s strength among the grassroots will translate to greater financial support.
Berger still leads Tillis in terms of social media follows, thanks in part to Berger’s bigger Facebook presence. But Tillis is closing in. Lynn Wheeler and Heather Grant, two candidates who face very long odds in winning the primary, lag the Republican field.
Two other potential candidates could prove to be contenders but are nonexistent on social media. These two candidates are Jim Cain and the Reverend Mark Harris.
The takeaway: It’s unclear whether or not these social media trends mean anything at all. But they’re interesting to look at in the absence of more primary polls, and there’s even a possibility that we’re seeing some real movement.