The Twitter Presidential Primary

Did you know that none of the Democratic presidential candidates follow @potus on twitter?  Or how about that the newsman that the most Republicans follow is Bret Baier? The Presidential Primary season is in full swing and we’re taking a look at some of the candidates’ Twitter Profiles to see what we can glean from their well-orchestrated social media campaigns.  These numbers and facts are as of July 6th 2015.


If the primary was held on twitter, the contest would be between Hillary Clinton ( 3.81 million followers) versus Donald Trump (3.11 million followers). The contest might be even closer, using – we find that a full 35% of Hillary’s followers are fake followers (based on Twitter Audit’s metrics – number of tweets, date of last tweet, ratio of followers to friends – but this may be a hold over from the last campaign and previous followers).  On the Republican side, Chris Christie fares even worse with 57% of his followers being fake.

Bernie Sanders has racked up an impressive social media following – especially connecting with young people. Aside from Trump, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul have also amassed a following that stand out over the rest of the pack.



Checking who the candidate chooses to follow can give us a little insight into who specific candidates are interested in.  Some are calculated, some are genuine, but all provide a window into the candidate’s world.  Let’s take a look at some social media lessons you can take from your candidates.

Lesson 1: Keep it a family affair – stick to the familiar.  Manage your presence carefully. Follow people and causes you know.  For example, Lincoln Chafee is very committed to his home state of Rhode Island. Donald Trump follows his family, resorts, and co-stars from the Celebrity Apprentice.

Lincoln Chafee

Following: 497

Notable Follows: Rhode Island Interfaith Co., Rhode Island LGBTQ Center, Rhody Ready, RI Resource Recovery, Pawtucket Times, Serve Rhode Island, EPA New England, RI Humanities, Rhode Island Monthly, Buy Local RI


Hillary Clinton

Following: 38

Notable Follows: Too Small to Fail, Women Public Service, Bill Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, Clinton Global Initiative


Carly Fiorina

Following: 685

Notable Follows: Thomas Friedman, Orange County Water, Grange Restaurant, Los Angeles Lakers


Mike Huckabee

Following: 494

Notable Follows: Megyn Kelly, Brian Kilmeade, Bret Baier, Bill O’Riley, Greta Van Sustren, Fox News Sunday


Donald Trump

Following: 46

Notable Follows: Leeza Gibbons, Geraldo Rivera, Shawn Johnson, Steven Tyler, Vince McMahon, Earvin Magic Johnson, Piers Morgan


Lesson 2: Don’t leave it to the intern or outsource your social media labor.  If you don’t deem the brand important, a third party won’t either.  They may load up on followers for convenience, and you’ll end up with a wild west in your follows.  Worse yet, some of the follows might be just flat out offensive and unpresidential.  You can’t choose who wants to follow you – but you can choose who you follow.


Bobby Jindal

Following: 20.9k

Notable Follows: celebrity pizza, charity water, sports insomniac, cash advice, fuhrer here, deception in Islam, american car


Marco Rubio

Following: 2777

Notable Follows: Miami Dolphins, TMZ, autonation, quitsmoking123,, best web designs.



Lesson 3: Surprise people – in a good way.  Show people aspects of your personality that we didn’t expect.  Rand Paul is a good example here; while you might expect a GOP candidate to follow a lot of FOX news, between following MTV News and Historically Black Colleges and Universities, you can see the Senator’s diversity.


Rand Paul

Following: 379

Notable Follows: MTV News, National Urban League, HBCU Buzz, James Woods, John Cusack, Grover Norquist



Bernie Sanders

Following: 973

Notable Follows: Lewis Black, Dave Navarro, Justin Long, Larry Willmore


Rick Santorum

Following: 1255

Notable Follows: Rick’s Sweater Vest, Amber Montana, The Duggar Family, Susan Boyle, Samantha Barks


Lindsay Graham

Following: 2245

Notable Follows: The View, Ben Affleck, Duck Dynasty, Matt Lewis, US Army Central


George Pataki

Following: 358

Notable Follows: eharmony, smuttynose brewing, Kathie Lee Gifford, Blanchard Gold



Lesson 4: Check your followers! If you’re running for president, clean up your social media accounts! Martin O’Malley has the unfortunate distinction of following both Stephen Collins AND Ray Rice. Rick Perry gets the biggest “OOOPs” moment for following @iwantcamgirls.


Rick Perry

Following: 29.4k

Notable Follows: Tim Tebow, iwantcamgirls, deardrunkme, the Chive, Jesse James, “Doc” Emmett L Brown, Arnie Vinick, Make a Wish CSTX, Kevin Sorbo, Utah spine and disk


Martin O’Malley

Following: 1,945

Notable Follows: Kevin Spacey, House of Cards, Edward Norton, Conan O’Brien, Rachel Ray. Stephen Collins, Ray Rice.



Lesson 5: Be relatable. Unlike most of us, politicians are desperately trying to seem more human. Fortunately, social media is a great way to show that you’re “in touch with the common man,” that you’re just “one of the guys,” yup… just a middle-class, blue-collar, suburban, regular ol’ Joe… just like everybody else…


Jeb Bush

Following: 168

Notable Follows: Pitbull, Chad Ochocinco, Melinda Gates, Pope Francis, Jimmy Fallon


Ted Cruz

Following: 13.9k

Notable Follows: Randy Rogers Band, Mark Cuban, Rob Lowe, Homeslice Pizza, Jimmy Kimmel, All Zombie News, Houston Astros



Lesson 6: Be yourself. You can’t be anyone, but yourself. For example, Jim Webb follows very few big outlets, mostly lots of regular people. That might result in a lot of egg profiles, but eggs are twitter people too.

Jim Webb

Following: 5789

Notable Follows: University of Nebraska at Omaha,, Boomer the book cat



Ben Carson

Following: 44

Notable Follows: Evander Holyfield, Tony Dungy, Stacey Dash, friendofyourmoms


Chris Christie

Following: 153

Notable Follows: Bon Jovi, New York Mets, New York Jets, NBA New York Knicks, FEMA, Vine, The Music Man, LeBron James, Bruno Mars, Mike Trout


While a wayward social media gaffe won’t make or break your campaign, if you’re ever planning on running for president some day, do your due diligence. Search yourself and your followers before you reach out and connect with the public.