Trump trumps political conversation among Tar Heels on Facebook

Posted March 14, 2016

— Whether you view him as a charismatic outsider destined for the White House or a charlatan demagogue pulling us away from our better angels, North Carolina is talking about Donald Trump on Facebook.

More than 1.3 million Facebook users over the past month posted or commented about the business mogul-turned-Republican presidential candidate. That amounted to more than 10.6 million interactions as the campaign heated up in the state, according to North Carolina-specific data provided exclusively to WRAL News from the social media site.

North Carolina's early voting period ended on Saturday, and primary day is on Tuesday.

Trump's numbers far outstrip his closest Republican rivals and more than double up on Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, who leads rival Bernie Sanders in mentions.

Of course, just because someone is saying something about a candidate doesn't mean they're saying something nice. The figures include everything positive, negative and neutral and reflect all sorts of interactions, including likes, posts, comments and shares.

Given Trump's frequent visits to the state, his sometimes incendiary rhetoric and fights and protests at his rallies, it's little wonder he is a leading topic of conversation.

FB Converstaion Data

Facebook also provided data reflecting the leading topics for political conversation in the state. The top five include:

  1. Religion
  2. Government Ethics
  3. Guns
  4. Homeland Security & Terrorism
  5. Regulations & The Size of Government

Religion makes sense as a topic of public discourse in the Bible belt, especially given the prominence of social issues during campaign season. But government ethics tends to be the province of public policy nerds more so than casual banter on social media, so what gives?

It turns out that mentions of Benghazi, shorthand for the 2012 attacks in which State Department officials were killed in Libya, and State Department emails, which Clinton inappropriately ran through a private email server, fall under that category. That finding also illustrates the point that all of Clinton's, or any candidate's, mentions on social media are not positive.


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