Biden: Right-Wing Attacks Drop along with Popularity

Following unexpectedly poor performance in the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, former Vice President Joe Biden is no longer the assumed front-runner for the Democratic nomination. As we wrote earlier, he had consistently been the subject of vicious attacks from the right-leaning section of the Twitterverse. Bernie Sanders, by contrast, seemed immune from such attention early on in the race. Today we look at how standing in the polls correlates with right-of-center attention.

Polls versus the Twitterverse

Here is a week-over-week polling average for Biden and Sanders (based on FiveThirtyEight’s pool of polls) over the last 4 weeks. It clearly shows Biden’s reversal of fortune and Sanders‘ rise after the early primaries.


For comparison, below are snapshots of the bias/credibility distribution of Biden and Sanders tweets at the beginning, middle, and end of the same time period (x-axis is left <-> right political bias; y axis is credibility).

The concentration of right-of-center accounts talking about Biden dropped off sharply just as he started sliding in the polls, and instead focused on Sanders. As we saw, a similar increase in right-of-center attention afflicted Pete Buttigieg when he did well in the early primaries.

Before Iowa, After Nevada

In fact, the relative amount of attention that a candidate received among the right-leaning Twitter accounts often predicts their front-runner status.

2020/01/24: Mentions of candidates among right-leaning Twitter accounts
Candidate Mentions on Twitter 2020-04-24
2020/02/24: Mentions of candidates among right-leaning Twitter accounts

Undoubtedly, this is a preview of what’s to come in the general election should Sanders become the nominee. Moreover, many specific lines of attack that were used against early candidates are likely to be used against the eventual nominee. At MarvelousAI, we are analyzing of the content of these Twitter conversations. Drop us a note if you’re interested in helping out or sign-up for an account.

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