Election 2016: The Presidential Candidates Winning the Twitter Race

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AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

Although Twitter isn't the end-all-be-all metric of influence, it can provide a number of insights regarding public opinion. Who are people interested in? Whose rhetoric has the greatest reach? Who are people engaged with? At the very least, a candidate can stay on voters’ minds using this tool.

Twitter is a conversation started candidates can make commentary that resonates with followers, potentially shaping voter outcomes.

With 232 million global users, Twitter is an incredibly valuable engagement tool for presidential candidates, which is why it's not surprising that every 2016 candidate (past and present) has an account. At InsideGov, we wanted to see which candidates are most popular on Twitter. Using follower counts from Dec. 1, 2015, we ranked all candidates who ran, however briefly, in the 2016 election. The candidates are ranked from least followers to most, ending with the candidate that has truly taken Twitter by storm.

#22. Jim Gilmore

Followers Count: 2,186

The former governor of Virginia has raised $105,807 toward his presidential bid, with 57 percent of his donations coming from large individual contributors.

His follower count steadily increased over the month of November.

#21. Jim Webb

Followers Count: 22,101

Before he dropped out of the race, former Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., raised $717,549 for his campaign. Although he ran as a Democrat this round, he was a Republican for his first 22 years of public service.

Despite withdrawing from the race on Oct. 20, 2015, his Twitter profile was still very active throughout November, with followers increasing steadily.

#20. Lincoln Chafee

Followers Count: 23,755

Despite his lengthy political career, Lincoln Chafee's tie in the race for the Democratic nomination was short-lived. In total, he raised $408,201 before dropping out on Oct. 23, 2015.

Although he doesn't post many tweets, his follower count has climbed since he suspended his campaign.

#19. Lindsey Graham

Followers Count: 30,119

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is making his first attempt to capture the Oval Office after 22 years of public service. Of the 10 cities that have contributed the most to his campaign, six are located in South Carolina, the state he represents.

Despite the number of tweets falling from @LindseyGrahamSC, his follower count increased over the last two weeks of November and into December.

#18. George Pataki

Followers Count: 81,632

The former governor from New York has raised over $1 million in his bid for the White House and boasts 25 years of elective service. That's 10 more years than the average for candidates in the 2016 field.

A more moderate conservative, Pataki is running for the GOP nomination. His follower count plateaued over the second half of November.

#17. Martin O'Malley

Followers Count: 110,189

Martin O'Malley is one of three Democrats still in the race for the party nomination. He has accumulated $3,878,588 in campaign committee contributions and is a former governor of Maryland.

O'Malley's Twitter handle received a sharp increase in followers on Nov. 15 and has continued to increase ever since. He gained 2,206 followers in the first week of December.

#16. John Kasich

Followers Count: 145,674

The sitting governor of Ohio has raised $16,107,517 so far in his bid for the Republican nomination, but is polling in eighth place among Republicans with just 2 percent of the vote.

#15. Scott Walker

Followers Count: 217,112

Scott Walker's early lead couldn't carry him through the primaries. The current governor of Wisconsin raised $26,222,405 before withdrawing from the race on Sept. 21, 2015. He was one of the most conservative candidates vying for the GOP ticket.

Despite leaving the race in September, Walker's follower count continues to grow.

#14. Bobby Jindal

Followers Count: 224,995

Bobby Jindal remained on the J.V. debate lineup until he withdrew from the 2016 race on Nov. 17, 2015. The Louisiana governor isn't popular with his constituents as of late, which led FiveThirtyEight to claim he should have ran four years ago in an easier primary race.

#13. Rick Santorum

Followers Count: 248,030

Another member of the J.V. debate circuit, Rick Santorum is a former senator of Pennsylvania with 16 years of experience in elective office. He's raised $995,602 for his presidential bid and is the most conservative candidate in the field.

After a dip in followers in mid-November, the end of the month saw a large, positive increase for the his Twitter follower count.

#12. Rick Perry

Followers Count: 320,514

The former governor of Texas withdrew from the presidential race on Sept. 11, 2015. However short-lived his campaign was, he still amassed $14,985,654 in campaign contributions — 83 percent of which came from large individual contributions of $200 or more.

#11. Jeb Bush

Followers Count: 366,451

Winning the race in terms of money raised, Jeb Bush's campaign is backed by a cool $133,339,158 in campaign committee contributions. Large individual contributions make up 93 percent of his total funds raised, with the highest amount coming from the city of New York.

Bush's Twitter handle (@JebBush) gained 5,277 followers in the first week of December and posts 43.2 tweets per month, on average.

#10. Mike Huckabee

Followers Count: 423,146

The former governor of Arkansas is running for the GOP ticket. His views on abortion, same-sex marriage and religion's place in public discourse have aligned many Evangelical voters behind him.

#9. Chris Christie

Followers Count: 576,137

Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., is the most moderate Republican in the race. His campaign committee has raised $18,568,128, 95 percent of which comes from large individual donors. His stances on same sex marriage, Obamacare and immigration policy differentiate him from many of his fellow GOP hopefuls.

#8. Ted Cruz

Followers Count: 613,207

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has just two years of elected office experience but is currently polling second among Republicans. As the second-most conservative candidate, Cruz supports gun rights and disagrees with taxes on the wealthy.

His Twitter handle gained 12,380 followers in the first week of December and posts 149 tweets per month, on average.

#7. Carly Fiorina

Followers Count: 618,916

The former CEO of Hewlett-Packard is an anti-establishment candidate vying for the GOP nomination. With the belief that government has gotten too large, Fiorina's agenda is to bring accountability back to Washington. She is the second-wealthiest candidate in the running.

#6. Rand Paul

Followers Count: 724,980

The son of former presidential candidate Ron Paul, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has raised $16,357,919 toward his GOP nomination bid. Small individual donors make up a bigger portion of Paul's campaign committee funding, and he is a more moderate candidate among the Republican field.

#5. Marco Rubio

Followers Count: 991,070

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has served as an elected official for 15 years and is polling third among Republicans. His polling numbers improved, in part, due to strong debate performances.

Rubio's Twitter handle gained 11,499 followers in the first week of December and he has posted 3,980 tweets in total.

#4. Bernie Sanders

Followers Count: 1,019,858

Since July, Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., has remained firmly in the No. 2 seat behind Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. With a strong millennial following, Sanders has raised $41,480,031 in his presidential bid so far and is the most liberal Democrat in the race. His 34 years, and counting, of elected office experience puts him in the lead on that front.

Sanders gained 25,613 followers in the first week of December and posts, on average, 168.8 tweets every month.

#3. Ben Carson

Followers Count: 1,038,956

Ben Carson is a former neurosurgeon who has never held elective office. He's running for the GOP nomination and was polling second among Republicans until recently, when Sen. Cruz and Sen. Rubio gained voters.

Carson's Twitter follower count has increased gradually despite his dip in the polls.

#2. Hillary Clinton

Followers Count: 4,790,830

Former Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is leading the polls with 56.3 percent of Democratic support as of this writing. Her Twitter handle received 43,506 more followers in the first week of December alone, and she posts 97.1 tweets per month, on average.

#1. Donald Trump

Followers Count: 5,043,559

Donald Trump leads the Twitter follower race, but that shouldn't be surprising. The larger-than-life candidate isn't afraid to speak his mind, doing so even at the expense of offending some readers.

In the first week of December, Trump's Twitter profile gained 90,464 followers. Approximately 374.3 tweets are posted from Trump's account per month, on average.

Compare Presidential Candidates on InsideGov

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