What’s Trending? 📈 Critical race theory

This piece was originally published in the July 16, 2021 edition of CAP Action’s weekly newsletter, What’s Trending? Subscribe to What’s Trending? here.

Hey, y’all.

For the past two and a half weeks, I’ve been on an epic trip, visiting family and friends from North Carolina to Wyoming. Almost everywhere I’ve stopped, one thing has come up: critical race theory.

Much ink has been spilled about the topic. This week, we’ll look at the Facebook posts about critical race theory and determine whether or not the conversation is happening amongst users or publishers.

But first, did you miss our latest edition of What’s Trending? Don’t worry — you can read it here.

WHAT’S TRENDING THIS WEEK

  • Build Back Better: On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced an agreement to advance the Build Back Better agenda — a $3.5 trillion legislative package that, when passed alongside the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, makes desperately-needed investments in jobs, families, and critical infrastructure.
  • Child Tax Credits: Yesterday, millions of families across the country received their first monthly payment of up to $300 per kid through the expanded child tax credit, a middle-class tax cut that was included in President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. The program is expected to benefit about 40 million households and nearly 90% of children in the United States, reducing child poverty by as much as 50%.

WHAT WE’RE HEARING ON SOCIAL

This past week, Cuban protests comprised four of the top 10 posts by conservatives, and the right’s top post was an anti-vaccine selfie video from Candace Owens.

On the left, a photo from Senator Warren celebrating her wedding anniversary received the most interactions (congrats!). Only four of the top 10 posts on the left touched on policy substance, but those that did, covered election integrity, encouraging vaccinations, tax reform, and the economy.

Top 20 best-performing political Facebook posts by interactions, according to data from NewsWhip.
Top 10 best-performing political Facebook posts on the left and right for the weeks of July 1 and July 8 by interactions, according to data from NewsWhip.
Top ten Facebook posts from progressive pages over the last week, according to data from NewsWhip.
Top ten Facebook posts from conservative pages over the last week, according to data from NewsWhip.

DEEP DIVE

Of the top political posts this week, *59* touched on “critical race theory” or race in some form. Compare that to COVID-19 and vaccine-related posts — a major focus of both the right and the left — of which there were only 36. In total, critical race theory-focused posts generated 1,780,000 engagements, while the coronavirus-related related posts generated 1,590,000.

On average, however, CRT-related posts generated far fewer high-quality engagements (shares, comments, saves) than vaccine and coronavirus posts. While critical race theory is absolutely a growing and significant part of the conversation, that message is still being pushed more from the top down — from conservative pundits flooding the zone on Facebook, rather than average users spreading the messages and driving the conversation.

Number of posts that reference critical race theory or coronavirus-related keywords among the top 1,000 political posts over the last week, according to data from NewsWhip.
Average comments and shares on top political posts that reference critical race theory or coronavirus-related keywords over the last week, according to data from NewsWhip.

Thanks for reading,

Alex

P.S. Please do forward along to your friends who are interested or encourage them to sign up here.

This newsletter is written by me, Alex Witt (@alexandriajwitt), a progressive political strategist and Dolly Parton enthusiast (she/her). I’ve managed social media programs for presidential candidates, political committees, progressive advocacy organizations, and more.

Hard-hitting news + analysis paired with action on the issues that matter most. Working alongside @AmProg.