The US Election Dominated Facebook Worldwide in 2015
The US presidential election may still be nearly a year away, but in 2015, it was the most talked-about issue on Facebook. That’s not just in the United States, but around the world.
The swirl of conversation surrounding the stateside election overshadowed other, more global topics, including the refugee crisis and the terror attacks in Paris. Or, should we way, it “trumped” them.
There’s no doubt that Donald Trump’s incendiary remarks about his fellow candidates, immigration, terrorism, and, most recently, banning Muslim people from traveling to the US, have had a big hand in turning this election into an international scandal. He has singlehandedly thrown the primary season—which even most Americans typically ignore—into such a state of chaos that the rest of the world can scarcely look away. As we speak, “Donald Trump petition” is now the second-most-searched term attached to the real estate mogul’s name on Google in the UK, a reference to a viral petition to ban Trump from traveling there.
Trump isn’t the only reason that the election season is dominating the global conversation on Facebook, though. For one thing, the US is, by far, Facebook’s biggest audience, with 193 million users in the US alone, out of just over a billion daily visitors worldwide. That almost certainly dictates which issues receive the most attention on the platform.
Other US-centric events and tragedies, including the Supreme Court’s historic marriage equality vote, the Baltimore protests following the death of Freddie Gray, and the Charleston shooting and the debate over the Confederate flag, all fall within the top 10 global issues.
But the international focus on the election also signals a significant shift in the way information about this election season is being shared. While local and national news stations have traditionally been the gatekeepers of political coverage, now more of that news is being shared and discovered on the borderless world of the Internet.
According to a Pew Research Center report, some 63 percent of Americans now get their news from Facebook, compared to just 47 percent in 2013. That change has taken place just as Facebook’s international presence has spiked, driving the bulk of the company’s user growth in recent years. That means not only is Facebook becoming a more powerful global news force, but there are now many more people overseas on the receiving end of that news.
Facebook’s 2011 topics list did include several US-centric stories, like the Packers winning the Super Bowl and the Casey Anthony verdict. But most of those were spikes off of specific events, compared to the global pervasiveness of the election this year. In fact, in 2011, the presidential election didn’t even make the cut.
As the biggest social platform in the world, Facebook has certainly risen to the occasion. It has already sponsored several primary debates and struck deals to help television networks gather data on what Facebook’s audience cares about most. In that way, the tech giant is amplifying the already robust conversations taking place on its platform.
Among its many distinctions, 2015 has been the year of the political tweet. Twitter—just a shiny new toy just two presidential election cycles ago—is now a prerequisite for present-day campaigning. It’s where candidates and politicians go to promote their policies, bash the competition, celebrate national holidays, and mourn national tragedies.
Capturing the most viral of such moments, Twitter today posted its list of the top political tweets on Twitter from the past year. And the results show that President Obama—whose 2008 campaign essentially invented political Twitter—has still got it. Between his two handles, @BarackObama and @POTUS, Obama accounts for 14 of the top 27 political tweets of the year. His most popular tweet, following the Supreme Court’s historic decision that made same sex marriage legal, received 448,061 retweets.
Perhaps more telling, Hillary Clinton was the second-most retweeted politician of the year. What’s more, her Tweet announcing her run for president earlier this year is still the most popular tweet among the 2016 presidential candidates.
The top ten:
1. When the Supreme Court issued its marriage equality ruling:
Today is a big step in our march toward equality. Gay and lesbian couples now have the right to marry, just like anyone else. #LoveWins
— President Obama (@POTUS) June 26, 2015
2. When 14-year old Ahmed Mohamed was arrested after bringing a homemade clock to school:
Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great.
— President Obama (@POTUS) September 16, 2015
3. When President Obama got his own Twitter handle. “Really!”
Hello, Twitter! It’s Barack. Really! Six years in, they’re finally giving me my own account.
— President Obama (@POTUS) May 18, 2015
4. Also following the Supreme Court’s marriage ruling:
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) June 26, 2015
5. When NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden joined Twitter:
Can you hear me now?
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) September 29, 2015
6. When the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office responded to a woman’s plea for weed:
Where should we meet you? https://t.co/5YjcB0kLET
— PBSO (@PBCountySheriff) July 21, 2015
7. When Obama spoke about the criminal justice system during the NAACP national convention:
We could eliminate tuition at every public college and university in America with the $80 billion we spend each year on incarcerations.
— President Obama (@POTUS) July 14, 2015
8. When Clinton announced her candidacy:
I’m running for president. Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion. –H https://t.co/w8Hoe1pbtC
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) April 12, 2015
9. NASA’s flashback to when One Directioner Niall Horan visited Johnson Space Center (For the record, the top Tweet of the year, with a staggering 730,315 retweets, was written by fellow 1D-er Harry Styles after Zayn Malik left the group):
— Johnson Space Center (@NASA_Johnson) August 21, 2015
10. When President Bill Clinton asked President Obama whether a certain someone might get to keep the @POTUS handle in 2017:
— Bill Clinton (@billclinton) May 18, 2015
Hillary Clinton speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, November 19, 2015.
The US needs to lead the fight against ISIS, and Silicon Valley needs to help, Hillary Clinton said during a speech this morning in New York City in which she laid out her plan to combat ISIS.
“We must deny them virtual territory, just as we deny them actual territory,” the former secretary of state said.
The speech followed nearly a week of debate after the terrorist attacks in Paris over whether encrypted technology threatens national security by preventing law enforcement from monitoring potential terrorists’ communications.
Candidates in the Republican party have been quick to call for an increase in government surveillance capabilities. Jeb Bush said this week that as president, he would fight to restore the PATRIOT Act’s metadata program, which was curbed following revelations by Edward Snowden. Bush said the communications-monitoring program was needed “to ensure we have the ability to connect the dots between known foreign terrorists and potential operatives here in the United States.”
In her speech, Clinton walked a finer line between the government’s surveillance interests and the public’s privacy interests. “We should take the concerns of law enforcement and counterterrorism professionals seriously. They have warned that impenetrable encryption may prevent them from accessing terrorist communications and preventing a future attack,” she said.
“On the other hand we know there are legitimate concerns about government intrusion, network security, and creating new vulnerabilities that bad actors can and would exploit.”
Finding the Balance
Finding that balance, if one indeed exists, will require the help of the companies that build this technology, Clinton said—not just resistance. “We need Silicon Valley not to view government as its adversary,” Clinton said. “We need to challenge our best minds in the private sector and work with our best minds in the public sector to develop solutions that would both keep us safe and protect our privacy.”
This, of course, is a lot to ask of an industry that has grown suspicious of the US intelligence community in the aftermath of Snowden’s revelations about the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of private data. The NSA scandal strained ties between Silicon Valley and the Obama administration. And it may prove to be a substantial challenge for the next administration, as well, as companies like Apple and Google use their substantial influence in Washington to protect their encryption capabilities. Clinton’s one advantage, however, is that she has deeper ties in the Valley than most, if not all, of her opponents in the 2016 race.
But encryption isn’t the only point of tension. Clinton also said today that social media sites also have a role to play in shutting down known terrorist accounts “so they’re not used to plan, provoke, or celebrate violence.”
The Offline Fight
Stopping the spread of ISIS online is just one critical step toward defeating the terrorist group on the ground. Clinton’s plan also includes increasing air and drone strikes in Iraq and Syria; pressuring countries like Saudi Arabia to stop funding terrorist groups; improving intelligence sharing with Europe; and enforcing a no-fly zone over the northern region of Syria. But Clinton stopped short of suggesting sending ground troops to Syria.
“Injecting some large contingent of American forces complicates that in my opinion,” she said. “Right now, we need to keep the pressure on the people on the ground and get them to change their priorities and work together.”
After the most recent Democratic debate, Clinton’s opponents in the Republican party tore into her assertion that the fight against ISIS “cannot be an American fight.” During today’s address, the presidential hopeful struck a different tone, instead, emphasizing the role America should play going forward. “The entire world must be part of this fight,” she said, “but we must lead it.”
Ben Carson’s campaign has succeeded at making a radio ad go viral online. Just maybe not in the way it intended.
Its unexpected reach is the only upside to the disaster that is this old-school rap ad that the Carson campaign is releasing this week on radio stations in eight markets, including Birmingham, Alabama and Detroit.
The ad’s biggest problem? Its ham-fisted pandering to black voters comes across as pure condescension. Not only that, but the rapping itself is so dated that the very people the campaign is trying to connect with probably weren’t even born when that particular style was popular.
Thankfully, Twitter users, including prominent leaders of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, aren’t about to let the Carson campaign off the hook. Here’s just a small sampling of what they had to say:
Is there a think piece about Ben Carson’s rap ad? I’m ready to read.
— Johnetta Elzie (@Nettaaaaaaaa) November 5, 2015
— April (@ReignOfApril) November 5, 2015
@acnatta It feels like a McDonald’s commercial
— Mark S. Luckie (@marksluckie) November 5, 2015
That Ben Carson radio spot is essentially a political payday loan ad.
— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) November 5, 2015
NO. This can’t really be the real Ben Carson ad. I am crying. This gotta be an Undercover Brother outtake. https://t.co/sQ2DhC9tZi
— best of both worlds. (@MichellCClark) November 5, 2015
CARSON CAMPAIGN: how can we appeal to urban youth
SUBURBAN MIDDLE SCHOOL PRINCIPAL: leave this to me
— Philip Bump (@pbump) November 5, 2015
For Democrats, at least, this could serve as excellent attack ad fodder. We can see the ad copy now: “Ben Carson wants to bring hip hop—and America—back to 1984.”
For some of us, Facebook is a place to share photos, watch videos, and catch up on the top news stories making the rounds. For others, it’s a platform for talking politics and bashing anyone who’d dare to disagree.
You know the type. Maybe it’s your uncle, who’s always sharing stories about LGBT issues, or your family friend who likes every pro-gun “Page” she can find, or that guy you knew in college who kept posting media reactions to the Benghazi hearing. They’re the people who are most likely to get in heated comment feuds and who, depending on your political leanings, the people you’re most likely to unfollow as the 2016 election season heats up. They’re also the people that the presidential candidates want on their sides. Now, Facebook is making it even easier to get in front of them.
This week, Facebook is rolling out a new feature that enables advertisers to target so-called “political influencers.” These are people who like lots of political Pages, click on political ads, and share content from political parties and organizations. Facebook uses all of these actions to determine if users are liberal or conservative, then segments that audience for political campaigns.
“People are more likely to trust information that their friends share,” says Matt Idema, Facebook’s vice president of monetization product marketing, “so it is valuable for campaigns to reach people who frequently share political information on Facebook.”
Preaching to the choir isn’t always at the top of a political campaign’s to-do list. More often than not, it’s the undecided voters and the people who don’t have much voting history that campaigns spend the bulk of their time and money trying to convince. And yet Idema is right that word of mouth recommendations are far more effective than advertisements could ever be, making this segment particularly important to campaigns.
Of course, there are already plenty of ways for candidates to target supporters—and potential supporters—on Facebook. With Facebook’s custom audiences, they can even upload their own supporter databases and target ads directly to those people. The problem is, they have no way of knowing whether or not those people even talk about politics online. By layering the political influencer filter on that audience, it’s all but guaranteed. The hope is that all these noisy Facebook users will amplify the candidate’s message, and help lead the grassroots movement online.
This election season has not been easy on Jeb Bush, and the Internet isn’t making it any easier. To kick off a campaign tour this week, the Bush campaign debuted its new campaign slogan, “Jeb Can Fix It,” and well, it seems Jeb now has one more thing to fix.
The good news for Bush’s social media team is that the hashtag quickly began trending on Twitter. The bad news is it was mostly because of Tweets like this:
Jeb can fix it just like he “fixed” his brother’s vote count in Florida.
— MJ⛳️ (@MJGWrites) November 2, 2015
And memes like this:
— Memeographs (@memeographs) November 2, 2015
This slogan-jacking shows just how difficult it has become for political campaigns to control their own message in the digital age. It’s no longer just up to the campaigns to steer the conversation and their opponents to counter it. Now we can all play a role in spinning the new narrative, which dramatically changes the power structure in campaigns.
That’s why this election cycle, the candidates who have had surprisingly successful online campaigns aren’t necessarily the ones who have had the most savvy slogans and advertisements. Instead, it’s candidates like Bernie Sanders, who has won over an online audience by embracing #FeelTheBern, a slogan created not by his campaign, but by his supporters. This approach has been key to Donald Trump’s Twitter success, too. His feed, unlike most candidates’, is filled with retweets from his supporters. In other words, Trump lets them do the talking (at least some of the time).
For political operatives, this is a new way of doing business, but it’s key to winning the race online. Campaigns can no longer spoon-feed the story to the public in newspaper op-eds, television ads, and Sunday morning talk shows. Instead, they need to elevate the voices of their supporters and turn them into the story.
Perhaps you’ve heard the Republican party is none too pleased with what went down in the CNBC debate this week. The candidates repeatedly reprimanded the moderators for what they called biased questions, with Florida Senator Marco Rubio going so far as to say “Democrats have the ultimate Super PAC, it’s called the mainstream media.”
Now, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is fighting back, issuing a letter today saying the RNC is suspending the February debate, which NBC was to sponsor.
I just sent this letter to NBC News suspending our partnership for the February Debate: https://t.co/MVke5m2EBm
— Reince Priebus (@Reince) October 30, 2015
In the letter, Priebus criticizes CNBC for failing to monitor candidates’ speaking time, and says some of the questions were “downright insulting.” He points in particular to a question aimed at Donald Trump: “Is this a comic book version of a presidential campaign?”
“While debates are meant to include tough questions and contrast candidates’ visions and policies for the future of America, CNBC’s moderators engaged in a series of “gotcha” questions, petty and mean-spirited in tone, and designed to embarrass our candidates,” Priebus writes. “What took place Wednesday night was not an attempt to give the American people a greater understanding of our candidates’ policies and ideas.”
This is not entirely unexpected. Controversy between Republican operatives and the network started brewing even before the debate ended. One Politico reporter spotted Jeb Bush’s campaign manager Danny Diaz in a heated discussion with a producer while the candidates were still on stage. NBC, for its part, issued this statement:
— NBC News PR (@NBCNewsPR) October 30, 2015
The RNC says the debate will still take place as scheduled on February 26, 2016, but that it will be “working with our candidates to discuss how to move forward.”
“If you were to be in my office in the State Department, I didn’t have a computer,” former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the Select Committee on Benghazi today.
For modern-day office workers everywhere, forever chained to our desks and screens, this was perhaps the most shocking revelation in Clinton’s drawn-out and repetitive hearing before the committee today (which is still ongoing. If you’ve got a few extra hours in your schedule, you can tune in here).
Clinton offered up this answer in response to questioning by US Rep. Susan Brooks about Clinton’s emails before and after the attacks on American diplomats in Benghazi in 2012. Brooks came armed with props, presenting the committee with a stack of nearly 800 emails about Libya that Clinton sent in 2011, compared to the much smaller stack of emails she sent in 2012, the year of the attacks.
“What kind of culture was created in the State Department that your folks couldn’t tell you in an email about a bomb in April of 2012?” Rep. Brooks asked.
“Congresswoman, I did not conduct most of the business I did on behalf of our country on email,” Clinton responded, and not only because she didn’t have a computer in the office. Due to the “great deal of classified information” that was being brought to her, Clinton says she received the bulk of her information in meetings, memos, and even top secret documents that “were brought into my office in a locked briefcase.” How very James Bond.
Of course, it’s not entirely unusual for people serving in the highest levels of public office to forgo a computer. In her opening statement, which was just as much a campaign speech on foreign relations as it was testimony, Clinton said she travelled to 112 countries as secretary of state, which wouldn’t have left her much time to surf the web from the comfort of her office desktop. At least she had that BlackBerry.
Carl Icahn—one of the most feared activist investors in tech—is coming for Congress.
In a letter posted on his website today, Icahn announced he is committing $150 million of his own money to a yet-unnamed new Super PAC, which will also raise funds from third parties. The primary focus of the Super PAC, he says, will be to push Congress to stop U.S. corporations from moving overseas for tax purposes, a process that’s become known as “corporate tax inversions.” For Icahn, that trend is among the biggest threats to the country’s economy.
1/2 I am starting a Super PAC with my initial commitment of $150 million to help end the crippling dysfunction in Congress
— Carl Icahn (@Carl_C_Icahn) October 21, 2015
“If this exodus is allowed to accelerate, there will be disastrous consequences for our already fragile economy, as well as meaningful and unnecessary job losses,” Icahn writes.
While Icahn has focused on the tech industry in recent years, as the 2016 election season heats up, he’s made no secret of his political interests. Donald Trump has even floated the possibility of making Icahn his Secretary of Treasury if he becomes president, though Icahn recently told WIRED he planned to keep his day job.
Now Icahn will put some financial muscle behind those opinions (thought not, it seems, behind the Trump candidacy specifically, at least in this instance). The billionaire writes that he is uniquely positioned to do this, given his understanding of what motivates businesses. “While they can contribute greatly to America, they are not ‘patriots,’” Icahn writes. “They are motivated to take actions that are in the best economic interests of their shareholders, which include leaving the country if it offers a compelling opportunity to dramatically increase profits.”
Icahn wants the U.S. to make it easier for American companies to repatriate the money they’ve earned abroad, by lowering the tax rate on that money once it’s returned. He writes that the taxes collected through this repatriation could help fund the Highway Bill, which would fund highway infrastructure. According to Icahn, both Senator Charles Schumer and Representative Paul Ryan support the passage of this legislation. Icahn hopes that his PAC will be able to push Congress to pass it before December, before the 2016 primaries begin.
“I promise, the PAC we have started will leave no stone unturned to find out who is most responsible for this ridiculous and unconscionable situation and what can be done about it,” Icahn says, referring to the stalemate in Congress. “The inability of Congress to enact desperately needed legislation because of certain members not willing to compromise is reprehensible, and the members responsible must and will be held accountable.”
Icahn says he’s sent the letter to all relevant members of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee. Of course, Icahn is far from the only person calling for an end to Washington deadlock. The difference is, when Icahn demands something, he tends to get his way.
“This may not be great politics,” Bernie Sanders said on stage at the Democratic debate tonight, “but I think the secretary is right. And that is that the American people are sick of hearing about your damn emails.”
In fact, the senator was right. It wasn’t great politics. It was brilliant politics. The hashtag #DamnEmails began trending on Facebook and soon became the top social moment of the night, according to the company. It was also the most retweeted Tweet of any presidential candidate during the debate, according to Twitter.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) October 14, 2015
The comment earned Sanders a handshake from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (whose much publicized private email scandal was in question); a standing ovation from the crowd; and a groundswell of activity online, all while shutting down the email topic for the rest of the debate. In one sentence, Sanders offered Clinton a hand and gave himself a boost, and he didn’t have to attack Clinton the way the GOP candidates have to do it.
Of course, it helps that the most engaged state on Facebook during tonight’s debate was Sen. Sanders’ home state of Vermont, where a huge grassroots operation has been preparing to amplify his message online. That may have played a role in helping to spread the hashtag. That, or, you know, everyone is actually sick of those damn emails.
During tonight’s Democratic presidential debates, candidates often had to bend over backwards to find differences between themselves on most issues. Not so when it came to Edward Snowden.
On the NSA whistleblower’s fate in the United States, the Democratic candidates are decidedly divided. Unfortunately for Mr. Snowden, the only one who wholeheartedly supported welcoming Snowden back to the US, penalty-free, was longshot (and hoo boy do we mean longshot) candidate Lincoln Chafee, former governor of Rhode Island.
“I would bring him home,” Chafee said. “The courts have ruled that the American government was acting illegally.”
Frontrunner Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, painted Snowden as a criminal and a thief, who didn’t take the steps he should have taken to become a whistleblower. “He could have gotten the protections of being a whistleblower. He could have raised all the issues he’s raised, and I think there would have been a positive response to that,” the former Secretary of State said. “He stole very important information that has unfortunately fallen into the wrong hands, so I don’t think he should be brought home without facing the music.”
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley wasn’t far behind. “He put a lot of Americans’ lives at risk,” he said. “Snowden broke the law. Whistleblowers do not run to Russia and try to get protection from Putin.”
Meanwhile, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose anti-surveillance stance aligns him more closely with Republican candidate Rand Paul than some of the other Democratic candidates, said he believes Snowden ought to face a penalty, but that “what he did in educating us should be taken into consideration.”
Former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, pretty much ducked the question and said he’d leave it to the courts.
Snowden, a new and already prolific Twitter user, hasn’t yet chimed in on the debate, but we’re dying to hear what he has to say—if only to see if his epic social media sway could raise Chafee from the dead.
When the Republican presidential candidates took the stage back in August for the first Republican debate, the most talked about political topics on Facebook in the U.S. were racial issues, Mexico, the economy, LGBT issues, and immigration, in that order. Just two months later, that list looks almost entirely different.
As the Democratic candidates prepare to face off for their first debate tonight, religion and guns top Facebook’s ranking of popular political topics, followed by the economy, homeland security and terrorism, and racial issues. Mexico, LGBT issues, and immigration have dropped out of the top five altogether.
If Facebook chatter is a good barometer of public sentiment—though that could be a sizable if—then this shift shows just how much our priorities have changed in a short period of time, and just how likely they are to change many times over by November 2016. You can even guess the reasons behind some of the shifts; a mass shooting generating national headlines will elevate the profile of “guns,” while a visiting pope likely pushes conversations about religion to the forefront. With thirteen months until ballots are cast, shifting sentiments and national news have plenty of time to generate plenty more turnover. In other words, it’s going to be a long, long election season.
Already, Facebook conversation around the candidates, themselves, is beginning to change, too, as Ben Carson has quickly overtaken earlier favorites in the GOP, like Jeb Bush. Meanwhile, Facebook’s calculations back in August showed about twice as many people talking about Hillary Clinton as they were about Bernie Sanders. Today, they’re nearly neck and neck.
Of course, it’s important not to draw many concrete conclusions about what this all means. After all, Facebook analyzes only the volume of conversation, not the context, tone, or sentiment. People complaining about Clinton or Carson register the same as those celebrating them. So it’s understandable that some strategists are reluctant to put too much weight on all the social media data being produced this year. And yet, when you see just how closely Facebook’s data mimics recent polling activity, the issues and candidates that rise to the top on Facebook become that much tougher to ignore.
Today, Hillary Clinton met with leaders of the #BlackLivesMatter movement to talk about how she would address racial injustice as president.
— deray mckesson (@deray) October 9, 2015
The fact that the meeting happened at all shows just how powerful the #BlackLivesMatter movement has become—and by extension, the social media platforms that spawned it. Though it was amplified by platforms like Twitter, it’s grown far beyond the realm of purely online activism.
So how did the in-person meeting go? Responses are still mixed, which is to say, it went a heck of a lot better than the last time Clinton spoke with #BlackLivesMatter leaders. The YouTube video of that awkward encounter, which made Clinton appear out of touch with an important part of her base, soon went viral. Things seem to have improved since then, as Clinton’s positions on prison reform and gun control have started to take shape in the public consciousness (Though, to be fair, Clinton laid out her stance on criminal justice reform months ago).1 Brittany Packnett, a self-described educator, activist, and protester who works for Teach for America, tweeted her thoughts after the meeting.
2. Since my last conversation with @HillaryClinton, she was a bit more willing to consider the federal-not just community-role in change.
— Brittany Packnett (@MsPackyetti) October 9, 2015
3. I was glad to hear @HillaryClinton be open to a national use of force policy + stronger funding formulas to address the racial margins.
— Brittany Packnett (@MsPackyetti) October 9, 2015
5. I am still, however, anxiously awaiting @HillaryClinton‘s clear, specific, urgent policy platform on racial and social justice.
— Brittany Packnett (@MsPackyetti) October 9, 2015
6. Black millennial votes care most about fighting racism according to polling. Thus, general attn to “justice” absent of race won’t work.
— Brittany Packnett (@MsPackyetti) October 9, 2015
Clearly, there’s still work to be done. But at least some candidates, including Clinton, are realizing that #BlackLivesMatter is more than a hashtag. It’s a political force they have to answer to.
Here’s hoping they’ll come up with the right answers.
1. Update: 9:16 PM EST 10/09/2015 This story has been updated to include Clinton’s earlier comments on criminal justice reform in April.
Rising GOP star Kevin McCarthy, the leading contender to replace John Boehner as Speaker of the House, has fallen to earth. The California congressman reportedly announced today that he was withdrawing from the race for the position. Political journalists in Washington pride themselves on their savvy, their ability to stay out ahead of Capitol intrigue. So they kept their cool when news of McCarthy’s move broke, right?
There is CHAOS here. Standby for more.
— Steven Portnoy (@stevenportnoy) October 8, 2015
“What?” “What?” “Whoa” — heard across the newsroom — @DanaBashCNN live on CNN now covering McCarthy dropping out of the House speaker race
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) October 8, 2015
The White House press file just straight up erupted into cries of “WHAT?????”
— Byron Tau (@ByronTau) October 8, 2015
— Joseph Weisenthal (@TheStalwart) October 8, 2015
Oh shit. https://t.co/nqjsBxfmBx
— Jamelle Boooooo-ee (@jbouie) October 8, 2015
Somewhere, Nancy Pelosi is taking THEE MIGHTIEST sip of tea.
— Brian Chillmeade (@jteeDC) October 8, 2015
Kevin McCarthy wants you to vote for Hillary Clinton. No, not that Kevin McCarthy, the one who’s being eyed as John Boehner’s successor for Speaker of the House.
This Hillary supporter, specifically, is the Kevin McCarthy who Tweets from the handle @KevinMcCarthy, who will henceforth be known as “the other Kevin McCarthy,” and who has been receiving all manner of nasty Tweets ever since House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy suggested that the Benghazi Committee was designed in part to impact Clinton’s polling numbers.
— Kevin T. McCarthy (@KevinMcCarthy) September 25, 2015
“You know it was really funny at first, and then they just kept going and going and going,” the other Kevin McCarthy says in a smart new video produced by the Clinton campaign. We’ve said before that Clinton and other candidates have sometimes fumbled in their attempts to appeal to millennials. This is not one of those times. This video—which features the other Kevin McCarthy pouring himself a stiff drink, sitting on the couch with a bearded guy in a Hillary Clinton t-shirt, and watching the former first lady’s Saturday Night Live appearance—is spot on. And it gets its point across.
“Instead of focusing on the American tragedy they said they’d focus on, they’re spending our taxpayer dollars to play electoral politics. I get it. It’s gross. But it’s not my fault,” the other Kevin McCarthy says. “It’s the House Republicans. So please, stop with your tweeting. My Twitter account just can’t handle it.
“Oh, and by the way, vote Hillary.”
Donald Trump’s hair is already one of the most talked-about issues of this election season. But this Photoshop masterpiece featuring the Donald sporting a hipster man bun just changed the dang game.
— Drew (@FigDrewton) September 30, 2015
Trump’s team, in all likelihood, won’t be too worried about this photo going viral. So far, the campaign and the Donald seem to have subscribed to the motto that all press is good press—or else it’s totally, completely stupid. And yet, this photo does say a lot about just how far we’ve come from politics as usual. Political strategists are always on the lookout for gaffes and other candidates pulling skeletons out of their bosses’ closets. But when before in history have they had to worry about someone slapping a man bun on their head, spreading it around on Twitter, and seeing it replicated almost instantly by media outlets (like our own)? And just wait until Halloween.
I’m going as Bunald Trump for Halloween and you better not steal my idea
— Drew (@FigDrewton) October 1, 2015
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