Speed Reads


Mayor Pete Buttigieg is winning the Democratic social media primary. Beto crushed all rivals in news media.

March was a good month for 2020 Democratic candidate Beto O'Rourke. He earned a front-of-the-pack $6.1 million in the first 24 hours of his candidacy, barnstormed eight states, then drew sizable crowds to his three campaign kickoff rallies in El Paso, Houston, and Austin over the weekend.

And as Axios reports Tuesday, citing data from social media analytics company Newswhip, O'Rourke easily outpaced all other 2020 Democrats in media interest from March 10 to 31. He was written up in 21,680 articles, 13,000 more than runner-up Joe Biden and about seven times the number of articles about South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. But lots more people interacted with each of Buttigieg's 3,017 write-ups, Newswhip found. In fact, Axios says, Buttigieg "is — by every measure — having an ascendant moment as a candidate for president."

Along with "generating more social media interest on a per article basis than any of his rivals," Axios said, Buttigieg added more Twitter followers since March 10 — 447,000 — than all other 2020 Democrats, including O'Rourke, who added the second-highest number, 137,000. He got only slightly fewer interactions with his tweets, 2.10 million, than O'Rourke's 2.17 million interactions, though he has half as many followers, and Buttigieg trails only O'Rourke in getting new Instagram and Facebook followers. And his Google searches have shot up sharply:

People are interested in Buttigieg's unusual background — he's 37, gay, speaks eight languages, served in the Navy, and is Episcopalian, for example — but "it remains to be seen how much of the Buttigieg interest is a flavor-of-the-month sugar rush vs. momentum that continues to build and can sustain itself for a year and a half," Axios said. In a crowded field, even a sugar rush is something.