Over at Blue Virginia, the leading left-leaning website in the Commonwealth, they took a look at social media statistics on the 2017 candidates and parties.
The consensus? Virginia Democrats, with the exception of incumbent Attorney General Mark Herring, are getting lapped by their Republican counterparts. Here’s the summary of social media activity in the race for Governor:
Takeaways: Gillespie is beating Northam on Twitter by a nearly 2:1 margin; Gillespie is wayyy ahead (almost 6:1) of Northam in terms of Facebook “likes,” also leading in terms of Facebook video views; both Northam and Gillespie are using YouTube, are tied in the number of videos but with Gillespie leading in video views.
Social media numbers are not a precise judge of support, but they do tend to be a leading indicator on enthusiasm. Folks downplayed Trump’s social media advantage (myself included) and found themselves shocked when he overperformed poll numbers.
Another digital indicator is Google search traffic. Republican Ed Gillespie trailed Democrat Ralph Northam for much of the year, but as the poll numbers have narrowed, Gillespie has started edging Northam on the search side:
Trump consistently lead his GOP rivals in search trends during the primary, except in a few states like Iowa, Texas, and Wisconsin (states he would go on to lose). Gillespie’s lead in search seems to indicate what we’ve been seeing, a tight race with the GOP hopeful overperforming the conventional wisdom.
As for other candidates, GOP Lieutenant Governor candidate Jill Vogel is crushing Justin Fairfax on both Facebook and Twitter, although she lags behind in search traffic. GOP Attorney General candidate John Adams is trailing Herring by most metrics, although search traffic isn’t a good indicator when a lot of folks searching for Adams in Virginia may be looking for information on one of our former presidents.
The Virginia Republican Party is behind the Virginia Democrats on Twitter, but hold a sizable advantage on Facebook. They also benefit from this search trend:
Long story short? Gillespie and Virginia Republicans are in a good spot, and the data online indicates a pretty substantial enthusiasm gap, cutting against all Democrats except perhaps the activist Herring. If this enthusiasm translates into phone calls, doors knocked, and votes, Democrats may find themselves in the middle of a surprisingly bad year.