It's presidential campaign launch season, and Facebook has tracked reactions to each candidate's official announcement since Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) became the first major candidate to jump into the race in March. The figures include all interactions (likes, posts, comments, shares), positive or negative. They're less an indication of how popular someone is than of how much interest there is in them, from either side. With numbers now in for Donald Trump's announcement, Hillary Clinton is in front — but Trump is far ahead of his Republican competitors:
In the 24 hours surrounding Clinton's announcement on April 12, 4.7 million people produced 10.1 million interactions on Facebook. Trump's announcement saw 3.4 million people produce 6.4 million interactions — solidly behind Clinton, but a very respectable performance. Cruz is in third, with 2.1 million people creating 5.5 million interactions, about half of Hillary's performance. The rest of the field is far behind those three.
Here's a chart showing the number of interactions for each candidate, rather than the number of people interacting about each:
Hillary's dominance makes sense. She's by far the best-known candidate nationally, in either party, and is among the most admired women in the entire world. She faces many fewer, and much less potent, primary opponents than any Republican candidate, meaning the base isn't as fractured and more Democratic voters are likely to like and share posts about her. She also had a very social media-centric announcement, eschewing a big rally in favor of a video posted on YouTube and (yes) Facebook:
Trump's performance is also understandable. While he's not considered a serious contender for the nomination, he has huge name recognition, as he's been a public figure for decades and hosted a hugely popular (for a time) primetime network TV show.
But the other Republican results, particularly Jeb Bush's, are interesting. Jeb didn't embarrass himself by doing as poorly as, say, Martin O'Malley or George Pataki, but he was bested by GOP rivals both serious (Marco Rubio, Rand Paul) and not (Cruz, Ben Carson), as well as by Bernie Sanders. He wasn't too far ahead of retreads like Mike Huckabee and Rick Perry. If name recognition was the sole determinant of Facebook activity, you'd expect Jeb to come in third after Clinton and Trump. Instead, he's eighth.
The number of people liking, commenting, posting, and sharing in the 24 hours around an initial campaign announcement isn't likely to tell you much about who's going to win in the end. But it does tell you a little bit about the degree of public interest (again, positive or negative) at the campaign's outset. People care a lot about Hillary and the Donald — but not too much about Jeb.
Thanks to Andy Stone at Facebook for the data.