What Social Media Tells Us About Gary Johnson and Jill Stein
If there is one thing everyone agrees on, it’s that this has been a strange presidential election. The combination of two historically unpopular major party candidates, the #NeverTrump movement, and the enduring popularity of Sen. Bernie Sanders has created a rare opportunity in American presidential politics: an opening for a third-party candidate. Enter Gov. Gary Johnson (Libertarian) and Dr. Jill Stein (Green).
Both have run for president before. Stein and Johnson were their respective party’s nominees in 2012, and Johnson served two terms as New Mexico’s governor from 1995 - 2003. Both candidates are well-known with a built-in base of support.
So what does social media tell us about these two candidates?
Neither candidate is doing what they need to do to break through the noise.
While conversation volume around both candidates is steadily growing, it’s absolutely dwarfed by conversation around Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Johnson’s Aleppo gaffe continues to dog him, and Stein is struggling to even beat the Libertarian in conversation volume.
Both are defined as anti-candidates.
Support for Libertarian or Green policy positions is almost absent in conversation around the two candidates. Johnson is largely defined by #NeverTrump, while the most popular hashtag for Stein is #NeverHillary. On a slightly more positive note for Johnson, his most popular hashtag is #LetGaryDebate, which shows significant dissatisfaction with the Commission on Presidential Debates decision to exclude him from the stage.
Both candidates are performing strongly with millennials.
Both Stein and Johnson stand out for their strong performance on social media among millennials. For both candidates, more than half of all conversation volume is in this demographic. For Stein, nearly one-third of her mentions among women (32%) and more than 25% of her mentions among men (26%) are in this age group. Johnson is almost the inverse: 31% of his mentions among men, and 27% of mentions from women are in the 18-24 age bracket.
However, it should be noted that Johnson has the most male-dominated following of any candidate, with men generating 74% of his mentions.
They’re strongest in big states with large cities.
Finally, when looking at where these candidates are most talked about, big states with large cities stand out. On Twitter, both candidates are most popular in California, Texas, and New York. In 2012, Johnson got about 1% of the vote in California and Texas, and picked up 0.67% in New York. Stein polled just over 0.5% in California and New York, but significantly under-performed in Texas, where she nabbed just 0.3% of the vote. It will be interesting to see if they do better in those states, as polls suggest. All three of these states have large, liberal cities, and are major financial centers with plenty of Libertarian leaners.
Both Jill Stein and Gary Johnson perform strongly with millennials.
Interestingly, on Instagram Johnson is especially popular in Washington, D.C., which is where the establishment happens to live.