Announcing our 2020 tracker with Axios

July 2, 2019

Written by Benedict Nicholson
The White House

Last week we launched a partnership with Axios to measure which candidates and topics are driving the most engagement in the run up to the 2020 election.

The Democratic debates coincided with the launch of this initiative, so we began by looking at the candidates for the nomination, as well as the topics that are generating the most traction with audiences.

We took a look at the data to see what has been resonating with audiences for the year so far, and moving forward, Axios will be tracking this on a weekly basis.

The candidates that have driven the most engagement in 2019

For the sake of clarity and readability, the chart below contains only the candidates who have received more than one million engagements for the year through the end mid-June. This results in the exclusion of John Hickenlooper, Seth Moulton, John Delaney, Steve Bullock, Mike Gravel, Tim Ryan, and Wayne Messam, articles about all of whom generated under the million threshold.
Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden are thus far the runaway winners in terms of engagement for the year until the beginning of June, with Bernie Sanders just edging out Biden. Having said that, the gap has been significantly closed since Biden’s official announcement in April, since when he has been the leader of engagement.
Outside of the top two, we saw Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris do particularly well, with Beto O’Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, and Cory Booker a further step behind the other frontrunners.
Having identified the seven candidates that were significantly ahead of the chasing pack in Sanders, Biden, Warren, Harris, O’Rourke Buttigieg, and Booker, we looked at the top articles for them as a comparison point. The vast majority of them saw their announcement article as the most engaged article of 2019, with CNN the publisher of note in four of the seven cases.
Only Warren and O’Rourke bucked this trend, with O’Rourke facing a highly engaged report from the Daily Wire, while Warren’s student loan debt policy proposal was her most engaged piece of earned media. This is partly driven by the fact that her announcement effectively came in December of 2018, as she became the first major candidate to announce her intention to run.

Our full report that we wrote on the matter also contains the issues that are being most engaged around the electoral race, and you can see how the race moves forward over at Axios here.
Want to monitor topics yourself? Take a look at NewsWhip Spike.

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Benedict Nicholson

In addition to leading the NewsWhip Research Center in New York, Benedict Nicholson manages partnerships with internationally recognized media outlets furthering data journalism, which includes NewsWhip’s Data for Democracy program. Benedict also facilitates consultations with communicators from the top 10 public relations agencies across America and Europe and with Fortune 500 brands to discuss consumer engagement trends and effective media monitoring. Email Benedict via

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