GOP Presidential Nomination: Announcing First Does Matter
By Jim Donnelly
Politicians of all stripes and affiliations know just how important it is to get their campaign off on the right foot.
Naturally a huge part of that is initially announcing your campaign, along with getting traction on that announcement both in traditional and social media.
In that respect, being first would seem to count for something, at least in terms of publicity. Because Ted Cruz—the first Republican candidate to publicly announce his Presidential bid—is the early winner in the Twitter war surrounding the GOP nomination, at least between himself and fellow nominee Marco Rubio.
(Rand Paul is the other GOP candidate to formally declare his bid, but was not included in this current analysis. We’ll be running a series of posts on the U.S. presidential nomination battle throughout the summer and fall).
As the chart shows, Mr. Rubio received a tremendous boost in Twitter mentions around March 23rd when he became the first candidate to formally declare. His campaign received such a boost, in fact, that his handle was still trending two days following the official announcement.
I'm running for President and I hope to earn your support! pic.twitter.com/0UTqaIoytP
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) March 23, 2015
And as you can see from the chart, his mentions—which were quite sparse before he took the plunge—stayed at a relatively sustained level the rest of the period.
Mr. Cruz even received a secondary boost when Marco Rubio declared a few weeks later, on April 13, because tweets about Mr. Rubio’s news that day also mentioned Mr. Cruz’s candidacy.
Mr. Rubio, for his part, also received a significant boost when he declared. But it was less than half as large, volume-wise, as Mr. Cruz (the former was also mentioned in around 10,000 fewer online news articles in March-April than the latter).
Much of this could be due to the sheer popularity of the candidates. But Mr. Rubio actually has more followers on Twitter, making the timing of each candidate’s announcements seem even more impactful.