This piece was originally published in the February 18, 2022 edition of CAP Action’s weekly newsletter, What’s Trending? Subscribe to What’s Trending? here.
If you would’ve asked me the topic on the minds of most news watchers last week, I would’ve confidently answered Ukraine and the economy. But after spending the weekend in north Florida, I realize how wrong I was. Nearly every person I talked to brought up Canadian trucker protests, their effect on supply chains, and rising costs.
Maybe I was half right.
Our team looked at how posts about that topic performed — and the counter narrative progressives are driving — in this week’s What’s Trending?
Read on to learn more. But first, in case you missed it, check out our February 11th edition of What’s Trending?
WHAT’S TRENDING THIS WEEK
- COVID-19: The Biden administration is continuing to combat the coronavirus and is seeking an additional $30 billion in funding. Specifics on the next phase of President Biden’s response to the pandemic remain unclear as local and state governments have begun rescinding mask mandates, moving ahead of CDC guidance.
- Economy: Corporations are raising prices, despite raking in huge profits, often citing inflation as the need for these price increases. Progressives, however, are calling out the fact that these corporations are using the actual inflation as a cover to employ their price gouging tactics. Unsurprisingly, the economy is predicted to be a major issue for voters in 2022.
WHAT WE’RE HEARING ON SOCIAL
Progressive pages authored half of the top 10 political posts of the past week on Facebook, an increase from two posts during the week prior. As happens often around holidays, three of the top ten posts from progressive pages were more personal in nature and centered on Valentine’s Day, while the top post on conservative pages was about declines in CNN viewership.
Four of the top ten progressive posts were about the Super Bowl halftime show — referencing musicians such as Eminem and Snoop Dogg and addressing conservative backlash to some aspects of the show. Otherwise, topics were widely dispersed, with some posts touching on science news like a woman possibly cured of HIV and others referencing literature in the context of book banning.
Continuing a weeks-long messaging trend, a majority of top conservative posts focused on the Canadian trucker strike in the form of live clips, graphics, and links — Tucker Carlson featured prominently in messaging, with a Breitbart graphic amplifying his quote about “the most successful human rights protest in a generation.” The Super Bowl halftime show was mentioned once in reference to masking rules, which was the only overlap in topics with progressive pages.
The revelations that Trump improperly removed and destroyed documents from the White House, which we tracked in the last What’s Trending, began to pick up traction over the past week — a post from Heather Cox Richardson, a prominent historian, received more than 120,000 engagements. Trump also responded to the increased attention with a counter-narrative falsely accusing Hillary Clinton’s campaign of spying on him — a piece of disinformation that was amplified by conservative pages.
In the wake of news of the largest 12-month increase in the consumer price index since 1982, posts mentioning inflation received a total of 770,000 interactions on February 10. Post volume about inflation increased five-fold from the previous day, largely driven by conservative pages, while average engagement per post increased by about 50%. On the other hand, several of the top inflation-related posts of the week came from progressive voices, such as Sen. Bernie Sanders and Robert Reich, using a message that centered corporate greed in rising prices, which appears to be resonating with audiences.
The Canadian trucker convoy, which has been amplified for weeks by conservative pages and featured often among their top posts, reached a crescendo in the past week, with over 800,000 interactions on February 11. The high volume of posts — more than 1,400 on that day — signals a strong effort to boost coverage of this protest, which is line with long-standing messaging against mask and vaccine mandates from conservative pages. However, engagement on the topic seems to be largely restricted to conservative pages and websites, rather than mainstream outlets covering the story.
Jobs and climate-related content remained steady at lower levels of interaction over the last week, with a commemorative post from Former President Barack Obama recognizing the 15th anniversary of launching his first campaign for the White House.
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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.
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Senior Director, Strategic Partnerships