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Even the White House talked more about Trump than Clinton

Donald Trump
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Donald Trump

President-elect Donald Trump's surprising rise to power has been attributed in large part to his ability to twist both positive and negative attention for his own gain.

Apparently, even the Obama White House was not immune to his media sway.

In 2015 and 2016, as the two candidates were gearing up for a tight presidential contest, White House staffers tweeted about Donald Trump more than 250 times, according to a CNBC analysis of tweets from a new archive of official social media accounts released by the administration late last week. At the same time, the White House tweeted about Democratic contender Hillary Clinton less than 100 times.

The White House started tweeting and retweeting Trump criticism at the end of 2015, upping its Trump tweet count in the spring of 2016 as the candidate gained steam in the primaries.

After Trump was the official nominee, the White House seemed to rethink its social media strategy, directing more attention towards the former Secretary of State.

In response to an inquiry from CNBC, a spokesperson said that "White House tweeters have communications and legal guidelines to follow for official accounts. This has been consistent from the beginning, and there were no changes in this policy through the presidential election"

The White House tweeted about Trump one day more than any other, and it was early on in the campaign. By the beginning of December, the administration accounts had only mentioned Trump 13 times, mostly in reference to Trump's opposition to the Iran deal and his plan to close a tax loophole (something President Barack Obama also supported).

Yet the dam appeared to break on December 8, 2015. That afternoon, Trump released a statement on his website calling for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on." On that day, the White House tweeted or retweeted 30 Trump-related messages, as well as condemning the idea as "disqualifying" for a candidate.


At that time, Clinton was still fighting Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and others for the Democratic nomination, and she was not mentioned in any White House tweets.

She wasn't formally nominated until July 2016, but the White House started tweeting about her more starting in May. In fact, that's also when the administration's Trump tweets hit their monthly peak.

By May 5, Republican contenders Ted Cruz and John Kasich had both bowed out, leaving only Trump. May was also the middle of the administration's battle with Senate Republicans over the nomination of Merrick Garland.

From the beginning of March to the end of July, the White House tweeted about Trump about 125 times, and almost half of those tweets mentioned the Supreme Court. Of course, that apparent attempt to scare Republicans into a confirmation did not end up preventing further obstruction on that front.

Clinton's social weakness

Like much of the country, White House staffers seemed more enamored of Trump's unconventional campaign than engaging voters with Clinton's platform. The former Secretary of State was never mentioned more than nine times in a single day, compared to Trump's 30 mentions on Dec. 8, 2015.

Clinton's best day of mentions came two months before the election, when White House staffers retweeted a CNN story nine times. In it, John McCain said he didn't know if Trump would be better for the Supreme Court than Clinton (both candidates were mentioned in the tweets).

Further, a bigger portion of Clinton tweets were retweets, meaning the staffers were simply passing on other people's thoughts. Many of those were news reports of the campaign and the Clinton Global Initiative. The most commonly retweeted reporter mentioning Clinton was Jennifer Bendery of The Huffington Post.

When it came to non-retweets, Clinton was never tweeted about more than twice in a month. Even the pop star Beyonce got at least that many unique tweets from White House accounts in some months.