Social Engagement Declines for GOP Leaders

Published on Jan 29th, 2016

by Jack Weinstein

In the last GOP debate before the Iowa Caucuses, social engagement declined for the party's front-runners.

Donald Trump and Ted Cruz both generated fewer total social actions (likes, comments, shares and retweets) on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram on Jan. 28, debate day, compared with the day before.

Trump’s engagement declined by 40% and Cruz generated 27% fewer actions. Trending in the opposite direction, Ben Carson and Rand Paul both saw engagement spikes on debate day.

Trump’s decline could be attributed in part to his decision not to appear with his fellow candidates in the debate hosted by Fox News. Instead, he hosted an event across town in Des Moines to benefit U.S. military veterans.

Still a Winner on Social

Even though he didn’t appear on the debate stage he still managed to generate the most engagement Thursday among GOP candidates, mostly by promoting his event for veterans.

Trump generated 546,000 total actions (likes, comments and shares) on Facebook and Instagram on Thursday. His debate day engagement is significantly less than the 906,000 actions he generated on Wednesday. The prolific tweeter didn’t publish a single post to the platform on debate day or in the hours following.

He was followed by Carson, Paul and Cruz. Carson more than doubled his Wednesday engagement while Paul managed to triple his.

Carson is seeing a bit of a resurgence after generating only 312,000 total actions during the last debate Jan. 14. Paul continued his strong performance from the same debate when he hosted a live chat on Periscope instead of appearing with his fellow candidates.

Fox News Maintains Media Lead

Debate host Fox News generated the most engagement among the news media. The network generated more than 681,000 social actions (likes, comments, shares and retweets) on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

It’s top Facebook posts were videos that included quotes from candidates. Its most engaged video featured Marco Rubio taking a shot at Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders during one of the night’s most quotable moments.

Rubio wasn’t the only Republican taking shots at Democrats in a top Fox News Post on Facebook. Carly Fiorina, who appeared in the first of two televised debates Thursday, compared Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton to the recently arrested Mexican drug lord El Chapo .

Following Fox News was CNN, which hosted Trump’s event, ABC News, The Huffington Post and NBC News.

Did you engage with one of the candidates on social during the debate? Tell us why in the comments.


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