The Oval

Trump vs. Cummings

President Trump found a new Twitter target in Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland. Who won this weekend’s Twitter feud? The answer may surprise you.


President Trump has a new Twitter target: Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), who represents Maryland’s 7th Congressional District, which includes the Baltimore area. Over the weekend, the president tweeted about the district about a dozen times, calling it “very dangerous” and “badly run” and even tweeting videos of the area.

Rep. Cummings responded back, with half a dozen tweets of his own, condemning the president’s comments.

When comparing engagement of the tweets from Trump vs. those from Cummings, it’s worth noting that Trump has nearly 140 times as many followers (62.4 million) as the Maryland Representative (460,000).

However, even with his follower disadvantage, Cummings had the most-popular tweet in their weekend feud with more than 47,000 retweets. Trump’s top tweet mentioning Cummings, on the other hand, nabbed just over 44,000 retweets.

Overall, Cummings’ tweets mentioning Trump had an average of 12,400 retweets, while Trump’s tweets about Cummings had an average of 29,100 retweets.

The Oval

Is Social Media Trump’s New News Media?

Last week, President Trump took aim at social media platforms at the White House’s Social Media Summit. Our analysis found Trump’s criticism of Twitter and Facebook resonates well with his followers.

The White House’s Social Media Summit last week made it clear that President Trump has a new target: social media platforms.

Trump’s top hashtag last week was #SocialMediaSummit (used eight times), while “social media” tied with “the border” for the president’s top bigram, or two-word combination (used 10 times) last week.

We analyzed Trump’s last 3,200 tweets (going back to Nov. 26, 2018) to see how he discussed the various social media platforms, and how those tweets resonated with his base.

Trump mentioned Twitter the most, with 17 tweets about the platform. The vast majority of those tweets were negative, with the exception of a retweet discussing how “united on Twitter” conservatives are, and an April tweet about a “great meeting” with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey at the White House.

Seven out of Trump’s eight tweets about Facebook were critical of the social media platform, while Trump’s lone mention of LinkedIn was a retweet mentioning a job offer through the platform.

The president’s tweets about Twitter and Facebook in particular are well received by his followers. Those tweets received an average of 27,949 and 25,688 retweets respectively. Both were more than Trump’s average engagement of 19,369 retweets per tweet.

The Oval

Saturdays Are for the Tweets

President Trump’s weekday Twitter volume was pretty consistent last week, but the president had a big spike in activity on Saturday when he tweeted more than three times the amount he did on Friday.

Last week, President Trump’s Twitter volume was pretty consistent during the weekdays. From Monday to Thursday, the president tweeted between 18 and 20 times each day, dipping slightly to 12 tweets on Friday.

But on Saturday, Trump had one of his patented Twitter flurries, tweeting 44 times – nearly 30 percent of his total tweet count for the week (149 total tweets).

Trump’s Twitter activity on Saturday included attacks on the news media, criticism of London Mayor Sadiq Khan, and hyping his 2020 campaign.

Trump’s followers seemed to respond to the spike in Twitter activity. His weekday tweets received an average of 16,562 retweets, while his Saturday tweets nabbed an average of 17,450 retweets.

The Oval

Quit Till You’re Ahead: Trump’s Mueller Strategy

President Trump didn’t mention Special Counsel Robert Mueller by name on Twitter for more than six months after his May 2017 appointment. But as the investigation progressed, Trump began to talk about the special counsel with increasing frequency.

The Mueller investigation has unfolded with several twists and turns over the last two years, providing many opportunities for the president to weigh in. But for the most part, President Trump seemed to hold his Twitter fire until he was assured of the results.

From May 2017, when Special Counselor Robert Mueller was appointed, to the end of 2017, Trump only mentioned him once, and that was in a retweet. During that time, Mueller expanded his investigation to include obstruction of justice and Trump’s campaign manager and business partner were indicted for making false statements.

But it wasn’t until April of this year that Trump’s mentions of Mueller by name really ramped up—after the report was released to Attorney General William Barr and the results were made public.

Trump mentioned Mueller more times in April and May (90 tweets) than the 22 months prior (87 total tweets from May 2017 to March 2019).

Seems like Trump waited until he had a winning hand before fully diving in.

The Oval

When It Tweets, It Pours

On May 1 alone, Trump tweeted nearly as much as he typically does in a week, mostly in response to a firefighters’ union endorsing Biden.

On May 1, President Trump went on a Twitter spree in reaction to the largest firefighters’ union in the U.S., The International Association of Fire Fighters, endorsing former Vice President Joe Biden for president.

Trump’s reaction? Tweeting and retweeting about all of the firefighters that support him, asserting that only the union’s leaders support Biden, not the union’s members.

That day, he tweeted 76 times, a noticeably high volume considering his weekly average of 87 tweets in 2019. Trump’s 173 total tweets last week represent a 99% increase from his 2019 weekly average.

The Oval

The Night Is Dark and Full of Tweets

President Trump’s Twitter feed last week was all about the Mueller report, with “no collusion” being his most-used consecutive word pairing. Meanwhile, a Game of Thrones-themed tweet from the president had 116,465 retweets, his 13th most of all time.

A look at President Trump’s most-common consecutive word pairings – or bigrams – on Twitter last week shows he was focused on the public release of the Mueller report. His top bigram – used 12 times — was “no collusion.” That was followed closely by “no obstruction” and “Mueller report,” each used eight times by the Tweeter in Chief.

The president’s three most-retweeted tweets last week were all related to the Mueller report. His most popular tweet featured a Game of Thrones-themed image, with the text, “No collusion. No obstruction. For the Haters and the Radical Left Democrats – Game Over.”

That tweet alone nabbed 116,465 retweets. To put that in perspective, the president’s next most popular tweet last week had 41,015 retweets. In fact, the Game of Thrones-Mueller tweet was the president’s 13th most retweeted tweet of all time.

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How to Get on Trump’s Tweet-dar

Six of the 10 Twitter accounts Trump retweeted most last week are not among the users he follows. The secret to getting the president’s Twitter attention? Get noticed by one of Trump’s family members or tweet in support of the president.

President Trump does not follow six of the 10 accounts he retweeted the most last week. So, how did they get on the president’s tweet-dar?

Of the accounts Trump does not follow, three – @paulsperry_, @TomFitton and @cvpayne – were also retweeted by Donald Trump Jr., indicating that the president’s son has influence on his tweeting habits.

The other three accounts that made it onto the Tweeter in Chief’s feed discussed topics directly related to Trump. For example,  @LouDobbs included the hashtag #MAGA in both of the tweets that Trump retweeted, while @marklevinshow tweeted about a book, titled, “The Case for Trump,” and @ChuckRossDC tweeted about a group that gave money to “bolster … the Trump-Russia narrative.”

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You Get a Retweet and You Get a Retweet

President Trump retweeted fourteen separate accounts this week, a jump from his average of 7.4.

This week, President Trump broke from his usual Twitter habits by spreading the retweet wealth from his @realDonaldTrump account.

Fourteen different accounts snagged a retweet from Trump, including his wife’s @FLOTUS account and @GOPChairwoman Ronna McDaniel’s, with two retweets each.

With the total number of retweeted accounts nearly double his historic weekly average (7.4), Trump is letting twice as many people do the talking.

The Oval

Wall Trumps Shutdown

“Wall” was President Trump’s most-used word on Twitter last week, with 13 mentions. In comparison, the president only mentioned the word “shutdown” twice, and both mentions came on the day Trump announced an agreement to reopen the federal government for three weeks.

Like the Spin Factor, President Trump’s Twitter activity last week focused on the fight over funding for a wall at the southern border. One of his most-popular tweets stated, “Build the Wall and Crime Will Fall.” In fact, “wall” and “crime” were the top two most-used terms by the president on Twitter last week.

Interestingly, Trump was nearly silent on Twitter about the 35-day partial government shutdown, which was caused by an impasse over the border wall funding.

The president only mentioned the word “shutdown” twice on Twitter, both of which came on Friday as Trump announced an agreement to reopen the federal government for three weeks as border security negotiations continue. In comparison, the president mentioned the word “wall” 13 times last week.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on whether Trump’s Twitter strategy changes ahead of the new Feb. 15 government funding deadline.

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The Wall is Coming. According to Trump.

President Trump continues to use Twitter to push for a border wall, but he’s been relatively quiet on the government shutdown. The president had more than three times as many tweets that mentioned “wall” or “border” than he did that mentioned the “shutdown.”

Over the past week, President Donald Trump continued to use his massive Twitter following to try to build support for funding construction of a border wall. About 25% of the president’s 74 tweets last week mentioned “wall” or “border.” In fact, three of his five most-used words on Twitter were “wall,” “border,” and “security.”

The president’s Twitter followers seem to be backing him. His most-popular tweet of the week, which garnered more than 67,000 retweets, was a Game of Thrones-themed graphic, with the text, “The Wall Is Coming.”

But perhaps more surprising is how little, comparatively, the president discussed the government shutdown. Today marks the 17th day of the government being partially shutdown because Trump and Democratic leaders remain at odds over funding for the wall. However, the president has only mentioned the shutdown five times in the last week.