What’s Trending? 📈 The internet’s favorite ex-president

This piece was originally published in the October 8, 2021 edition of CAP Action’s weekly newsletter, What’s Trending? Subscribe to What’s Trending? here.

Hey, y’all.

There’s one trend I’ve been observing since I started my very first job in politics: The progressive internet is obsessed with Jimmy Carter.

Whether marking the eradication of the Guinea worm, sharing vintage photos of the former president building homes with Habitat for Humanity, or celebrating his fine taste in music, posting about Jimmy Carter is a good way to ensure lots and lots of people engage with your content.

And this week, in celebration of his 97th birthday, many did just that.

Read on to learn more about what dominated political Facebook. But first: Did you miss our latest edition of What’s Trending? You can read it here.

WHAT’S TRENDING THIS WEEK

WHAT WE’RE HEARING ON SOCIAL

Progressives outperformed conservatives in the ranking of top 10 political Facebook posts of the week. Barack and Michelle Obama captured the top two positions with very sweet anniversary posts. Other top progressive posts were similarly personal, including several birthday wishes for Jimmy Carter.

Top posts from conservatives ranged from a Breitbart meme promoting country music singer Jason Aldean to a post from Candace Owens criticizing Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen.

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 September 23 and 30 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

Much ink has been spilled debating whether or not the Biden Administration is doing enough to sell the Build Back Better agenda. Here’s some good news for those in the White House: It’s breaking through, at least on Facebook. Posts including the phrase “build back better” have sustained a heightened level of interactions over the past two weeks in the run-up to an anticipated vote.

Total Facebook interactions for posts referencing topic keywords, according to data from NewsWhip (U.S. pages only)

Of course, as in Congress, debate over the debt ceiling did make a run at eclipsing build back better conversation on Facebook. We saw “debt ceiling” keywords spike in recent days, as did the filibuster once President Biden alluded to a carve-out as a potential option for breaking the impasse.

And finally, you’ll notice a significant increase in interactions about Attorney General Merrick Garland due to his recent order for the FBI to address the spike in threats against educators by anti-mask and anti-critical race theory activists. This has led to criticism and pushback from an array of pages on the right and is a testament to the continued narrative-driving power of conservative voices on Facebook.

ON MY RADAR

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 staffer and Dolly Parton enthusiast (she/her), and CAP Action’s fantastic team of designers, data analysts, and email strategists.

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