This piece was originally published in the October 8, 2021 edition of CAP Action’s weekly newsletter, What’s Trending? Subscribe to What’s Trending? here.
There’s one trend I’ve been observing since I started my very first job in politics: The progressive internet is obsessed with Jimmy Carter.
Whether marking the eradication of the Guinea worm, sharing vintage photos of the former president building homes with Habitat for Humanity, or celebrating his fine taste in music, posting about Jimmy Carter is a good way to ensure lots and lots of people engage with your content.
And this week, in celebration of his 97th birthday, many did just that.
Read on to learn more about what dominated political Facebook. But first: Did you miss our latest edition of What’s Trending? You can read it here.
WHAT’S TRENDING THIS WEEK
- Debt ceiling: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that the United States will run out of money on October 18 if Congress does not raise the debt ceiling. Despite obstruction efforts from Mitch McConnell and his allies, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced a deal to extend the debt ceiling through December 3 — temporarily avoiding catastrophic default as Congress works towards a solution.
- Covid-19: Approximately 65% of the total U.S. population is fully vaccinated, hospitalizations and deaths are decreasing in states across the country, and across the board — vaccine mandates are working, leading even the most hesitant to take the shot. Efforts to administer booster shots to the necessary groups of people are underway, and Pfizer officially asked the F.D.A for authorization to administer their vaccine to children ages 5–11.
- Build Back Better: Negotiations to pass both the bipartisan infrastructure package and President Biden’s Build Back Better Act are ongoing. Support for the president’s agenda remains high, with more than 3 in 5 Americans supporting the Build Back Better economic proposal.
WHAT WE’RE HEARING ON SOCIAL
Progressives outperformed conservatives in the ranking of top 10 political Facebook posts of the week. Barack and Michelle Obama captured the top two positions with very sweet anniversary posts. Other top progressive posts were similarly personal, including several birthday wishes for Jimmy Carter.
Top posts from conservatives ranged from a Breitbart meme promoting country music singer Jason Aldean to a post from Candace Owens criticizing Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen.
Much ink has been spilled debating whether or not the Biden Administration is doing enough to sell the Build Back Better agenda. Here’s some good news for those in the White House: It’s breaking through, at least on Facebook. Posts including the phrase “build back better” have sustained a heightened level of interactions over the past two weeks in the run-up to an anticipated vote.
Of course, as in Congress, debate over the debt ceiling did make a run at eclipsing build back better conversation on Facebook. We saw “debt ceiling” keywords spike in recent days, as did the filibuster once President Biden alluded to a carve-out as a potential option for breaking the impasse.
And finally, you’ll notice a significant increase in interactions about Attorney General Merrick Garland due to his recent order for the FBI to address the spike in threats against educators by anti-mask and anti-critical race theory activists. This has led to criticism and pushback from an array of pages on the right and is a testament to the continued narrative-driving power of conservative voices on Facebook.
ON MY RADAR
- Monday, October 11, is National Coming Out Day. Join the Freedom & Opportunity for All coalition in calling on Congress to pass the Equality Act!
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 staffer and Dolly Parton enthusiast (she/her), and CAP Action’s fantastic team of designers, data analysts, and email strategists.