This piece was originally published in the March 17, 2021 edition of CAP Action’s weekly newsletter, What’s Trending? Subscribe to What’s Trending? here.
TikTok has become my guilty pleasure over the past few months. And as much as I love videos of funny kids (a LOT), I may love American Rescue Plan TikToks more. The creativity! The unbridled enthusiasm! It makes me so happy to finally see so many people getting the help they need.
This week, we’ll continue to examine the political conversation about the ARP, but we’ll also look at how conservatives are trying to deflect to other issues. But first, did you miss last week’s edition? Don’t worry — you can read it here.
WHAT’S TRENDING THIS WEEK
- Help is here: House Democrats passed President Biden’s COVID relief bill, the American Rescue Plan, by a 220–211 vote last Wednesday. It was officially signed into law by Biden on Thursday. As Americans begin seeing stimulus checks deposited into their bank accounts, the Biden administration is launching a cross-country tour to share that #HelpIsHere.
- One year of COVID: Thursday, March 11 marked one year since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, and the world all but shut down. In his first prime-time address since assuming office, President Biden marked the anniversary by looking forward with a goal of achieving a semblance of normalcy by July 4 — giving direction for states to make all adults eligible to get the vaccine by May 1, announcing the acquisition of more doses, and encouraging all to play their part in reaching this goal.
WHAT WE’RE HEARING ON SOCIAL
Gimme my stimmy: The passage of the American Rescue Plan dominated political social media last week. And while top posts from progressives encouraged Americans to get vaccinated and maintain best practices to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, conservatives made a blatant pivot toward promoting racist content, especially anti-immigrant posts, and posts deriding Meghan Markle.
Progressives made a comeback this week! The 10 best-performing political Facebook posts by interactions were evenly split between the left and the right.
As the chart below demonstrates, progressive content is outperforming conservative content when it comes to the American Rescue Plan. We’ve seen this trend sustain itself over the course of the past few weeks. And it looks like conservatives have noticed. The largest Facebook pages on the right are following Kevin McCarthy’s lead and leaning into racist, anti-immigrant content, despite a lack of evidence for their claims. They are also publishing disparaging posts about Meghan Markle following her and Prince Harry’s interview with Oprah. And as Facebook itself has admitted, this extreme, demeaning, sensationalistic content performs better on its platform.
Progressives must be able to play offense AND defense, both deriding this behavior from conservatives while keeping the focus of their content and messaging on the significant, tangible benefits of the ARP.
A few ideas for how to do that:
- Focus on the most popular elements of the ARP to grab people’s attention. Then, give them additional information. For example, use an article with a headline about direct payments (the best-polling piece of the bill) and highlight lesser-known benefits.
- I’m seeing a trend of strong engagement on posts explaining the child tax credit, which will make a HUGE impact for families and could cut child poverty in half.
- As Elizabeth Warren explained, there are some important provisions for student loan borrowers, which lay the groundwork for future legislation. If you have a presence on a platform with an invested audience, this could help drive motivation for future actions.
ON MY RADAR
- Join our friends over at CAP on Thursday, March 18, at 12pm ET for a virtual conversation on working toward an equitable and just climate future, featuring New York Attorney General Letitia James and John Podesta. RSVP here!
Thanks for reading,
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 strategist and Dolly Parton enthusiast (she/her). I’ve managed social media programs for presidential candidates, political committees, progressive advocacy organizations, and more.