When presidential candidates tag each other on Twitter, things get awkward


As the primaries approach, presidential candidates are talking about each other more than ever. But let’s be honest: Even among friends, there are times when you just don’t want to be tagged on social media.

And when candidates mention their rivals, it can be downright awkward.

We analyzed candidate tweets that have used the @[username] convention to mention other candidates since the campaign began. We wanted to see how often they tag each other on Twitter, whom they tag, and why.

(You can also explore the candidates’ social media yourself. Check out Fusion’s Political Image Machine.)

Most tagged candidates

Republicans have tended to tag their fellow candidates far more than Democrats. Not including candidates who tagged themselves (more on that later), Hillary Clinton attracted the most mentions, receiving 633 tags through early January, followed by Donald Trump, who was tagged 281 times.

Lawrence Lessig, the Harvard law professor who ran a brief, obscure campaign on the single issue of campaign finance reform, was tagged the least. His only mention was by former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who was wondering whether Lessig was up for a debate.

Source:  Candidate Twitter feeds (January 1, 2015 – January 6, 2016)

Cattiest candidates

Republican George Pataki, who has since dropped out, fired off the most mentions. Pataki mentioned other candidates 214 times. His tags, most often directed at Clinton and Republican rival Trump, were not exactly friendly. (Then again, he did invite Hillary Clinton to lunch at Chipotle. Nice!)

Jeb Bush was next, with 165 tags of other candidates. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker came in third, but we give him props for snappy social media putdowns.

Here are the five candidates who used the @ convention the most and whom they were talking about.

Least catty candidates

Here are the five candidates who used the @ convention the least and whom they were talking about. (Of course, that doesn’t mean they aren’t talking about their fellow candidates. Clinton has talked about Trump plenty. She even put together #LoveTrumpsHate stickers.)

Most narcissistic

Of course, there were those candidates who used the @ convention to talk about themselves. (Ahem, John Kasich.)

We’re at a loss as to what this is all about. Maybe their campaign teams are trying to alert them that they have tweeted … about themselves. Or perhaps they are hoping that if they mention themselves the meme will take off. Or maybe they just need to get a status update on that PB&J they were making for themselves.

Here are the top five:

Daniel McLaughlin is a creative technologist exploring the 2016 presidential election. Before joining Fusion, Daniel worked at the Boston Globe and graduated from MIT with a BS in urban studies and planning.

Kate Stohr is a data journalist and community builder based in San Francisco, CA.

Sam Lavigne is a hacker and artist from NYU’s ITP program who is spearheading data projects around the 2016 presidential election for Fusion.

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