Ocasio-Cortez zooms to #2 on Twitter during the past month
For some time now, I have been sharing with friends, and the audience of The Hagmann Report (where I do political reporting and analysis for an hour or more every week), this unpleasant observation: it increasingly seems as if 29-year-old democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is quickly becoming the best known House member, Democrat, and politician (with the exception of the POTUS) in the United States.
Ocasio-Cortez, having dispatched a ten-term congressman in a primary election last June, became the youngest female elected to the Congress when she took her seat in the House on January 3. Since exploding into public awareness last summer, she has increased her profile and become the leading voice of the new far left socialist base of the Democratic Party.
Now, evidence is in that I wasn't too far off the mark in my gut-level estimate of her startling new impact. On January 13, Axios co-founder Mike Allen and his co-author Neil Rothschild dropped an article at their influential swamp publication titled "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has more Twitter power than media, establishment." The article features a graphic that dramatically displays the number of Twitter "interactions" during the past month (Dec. 11-Jan. 11) by politicians and media who use the social media platform.
Citing data by Crowdtangle, Axios reported that AOC had 11.8 million interactions (retweets and likes), second only to President Donald Trump's 39.8 million. The POTUS currently has 57.3 million followers to her 2.37 million. Looked at another way, AOC has only 4% as many followers as President Trump, but in the past month, she had more than 30% of his interactions, or 7.5 times as many interactions per follower as the president. As we used to say in the world of rock 'n' roll, she is a hot number with a bullet (figuratively speaking, of course).
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Source: Her official Twitter.
Back on December 27, surveying the new political scene arising from the Democrats winning the House in the 2018 Midterm Elections, David Catanese reported in U.S. News about Ocasio-Cortez:
Before this 29-year-old Democratic socialist Latina from the Bronx is even sworn in to the House next week, she's become one of the most influential figures in the Democratic Party – and the unordained leader of a flock of progressive renegade freshman females hellbent on breaking the norms of the institution and challenging the notion that seniority means supremacy.
Many of their electoral victories were had by skipping the established line, so they're wired to approach governing in the same rebellious way. And their sizable followings on social media provide them with an imposing arsenal of support that can be converted into raw political power as fast as one can upload an Instagram.
"The freshman class as an aggregate will have more power than the leadership," says Rep. Ro Khanna, a California Democrat about to start his second term. "The balance of power is shifting in the House. Leadership doesn't matter nearly as much. Ordinary members of Congress have a much bigger platform. The size of your Twitter following and the size of your external base makes a huge difference."
Since that prescient article was published, Ocasio-Cortez has appeared as the star attraction on CBS News's 60 Minutes, tussled with House Republican leader Steve Scalise (R-La.), "hit back at" her critics after a decade old video of her dancing went viral, and traded insults with 2000 Democratic vice presidential candidate former Sen. Joe Lieberman – all of these moves further raising her profile.
Ocasio-Cortez has also been ratcheting up publicity about the #GreenNewDeal that she and her fellow leftists are promoting, with obeisance to President Franklin Roosevelt's government-centric New Deal of the Depression-era 1930s. On December 14, she tweeted, "We have lift-off," charting the number of tweets of the #GreenNewDeal hashtag going straight up in recent months. The rise appeared to parallel her fellow climate change radicals' ascent to power in the Congress and various state offices around the country and the fawning mainstream media coverage accorded to them.
Axios quotes several experts, including Antonio García Martínez of Wired, author of Chaos Monkeys, about Silicon Valley, who calls her "a harbinger of a new American political reality."
The Axios chart of recent Twitter impact also notes that AOC is way ahead of President Obama (who had only 4.4 million interactions), while she leaves several veteran politicos and one newbie in the dust: Bernie Sanders, 2.6M (combined Senate and personal account); Nancy Pelosi, 2.6M; Chuck Schumer, 2.4M; Beto O'Rourke 1.8M; and Elizabeth Warren, 1.4M (combined Senate and personal account).
Peter Barry Chowka writes about politics, media, popular culture, and health care for American Thinker and other publications. Follow him on Twitter at @pchowka.