Social Media Follows: Ranking the Senate Candidates (September Edition)

by | Sep 6, 2013 | Carolina Strategic Analysis, Features


We’re running out of candidates! Virginia Foxx is the latest candidate to bow out of the race for U.S. Senate. So what’s changed since last month? Let’s take a look. As always, the first number is how many people ‘like’ these candidates on Facebook; the second number is Twitter followers.

1. Sen. Kay Hagan 22,482 + 4,236 = 26,718 (August total = N/A) N/A
2. Speaker Thom Tillis 21,023 + 4,322 = 25,345 (August total = 16,148) +9,197
3. Dr. Greg Brannon 9,802 + 692 = 10,494 (August total = 3,957) +6,537
4. Sen. Phil Berger 2,071 + 3,691 = 5,762 (August total = 5,589) +173
5. Heather Grant 560 + 551 = 1,111 (August total = 442) +669
6. Lynn Wheeler 86 + 792 = 878 (August total = 856) +22

This time, there are several big changes. Part of this is because of an adjustment in our methodology. From now on, wherever available, we will use statistics from candidates’ campaign accounts. Last time, in evaluating Kay Hagan’s ranking, we used her official U.S. Senate pages. This adjustment gives Hagan a big boost in Facebook ‘likes’, some of them received back during her first campaign. At the same time it significantly reduces her number of Twitter followers. The net result? Hagan loses about 500 total followers. (We put ‘N/A’ next to her August total because we don’t think it’s fair to imply a mass exodus of Hagan supporters).

Then there’s Thom Tillis. He had a stellar month of August, mostly through a huge increase in people ‘liking’ his campaign page on Facebook. With Hagan’s technical decrease in followers and Tillis’s increase, it’s conceivable that Tillis could surpass her in total follows by this time next month. If polls conform to social media follows, we’re in for a tight race!

Greg Brannon also had a good month, increasing his total followers by over 6,000. He’s in third place overall, having leapfrogged Phil Berger. Once again, the increase comes in Facebook ‘likes’. The active candidates all appear to be increasing their presence on that platform.

Phil Berger doesn’t look like he’s making much of an effort on the social media front. He only added 173 followers in the last month. Maybe he’ll get into gear if he becomes an announced candidate. Most observers think he’ll pass up on a run, though.

Heather Grant, another announced candidate, is now in fifth place, having leapt past Lynn Wheeler. Was Wheeler being serious when she floated the idea of a Senate candidacy? Grant is an urgent care nurse in Wilkesboro and describes herself as a ‘Constitutional Conservative’. It looks like she’ll be competing with Greg Brannon for Tea Party support.

Both Mark Harris and Jim Cain do not have known social media accounts, but Mark Harris looks like a definite candidate. Cain, meanwhile, has been very quiet, and many don’t think he is taking the proper steps to prepare for a bid. Has Cain failed to be bitten by the political bug? At this point his odds of getting in have to be considered less than 50/50.

To sum it all up: those candidates who are actively running had good months, with Thom Tillis having by far the best month. It’s unfortunate that we have to punish Hagan because of the adjustment in methodology, but it is what it is. And as always, the possibility of making a mistake is quite high, so if something doesn’t look right, please say something! And the usual disclaimer: yes, looking at trends like these are fun if you’re a super political junkie with nothing else better to do, but it’s possible that this exercise is entirely meaningless, so don’t get too excited, or depressed, at the results.


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