Ocasio-Cortez Matches Trump Digitally

President Donald Trump is infamous for using social media, specifically Twitter, to go around the mass media and communicate his views directly to the American people. This use of social media by a political leader was something Americans had never seen before Trump and it went entirely unmatched in the political world—until now.

The Democratic Party’s new firebrand, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has quickly shown herself to be as effective online as President Trump.

Ocasio-Cortez distinguished herself as both a powerful and polarizing player in politics when she defeated 10-term incumbent Joe Crowley, one of the top Democrats in the House of Representatives, in her New York district’s 2018 primary. This shocking upset made Ocasio-Cortez known to the country, where her embrace of democratic socialism drew ardent supporters as well as heaps of criticism from both the Republican Party and moderate Democrats.

However, no amount of criticism has managed to diminish Ocasio-Cortez’s momentum online. Between June 2018, when she won her primary, and January 2019 Ocasio-Cortez has gained more than 2.6 million followers on Twitter, surging to over 3 million followers.

Although this number may seem small compared to Trump’s 58.2 million followers, it is worth noting that Ocasio-Cortez’s tweets create far more interactions than any other major political figure. Her tweets have an interaction rate of 2.8%, compared to 0.2% for Trump and Hillary Clinton, 0.4% for Barack Obama, and 0.09% for Bernie Sanders.

Ocasio-Cortez mirrors President Trump’s use of social media as a means of mass communication in several ways, such as her habit of calling out political opponents.

Being the youngest member of Congress at age 29 has not stopped Ocasio-Cortez from going toe-to-toe online against Republicans, and she also uses Twitter to strongly advocate for legislation like her Green New Deal.

But, Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t use social media just to talk about politics. She has also been seen dancing, sharing skincare routines, and offering public speaking tips on her various social media platforms. Like Trump, Ocasio-Cortez understands that any engaging post is a good one.

Another similarity between Trump and Ocasio-Cortez’s digital presence is their occasional aversion to the truth. Trump’s tweets are often riddled with factual errors, and Ocasio-Cortez has said that being morally correct is more important than being factually correct.

Ocasio-Cortez’s rise to political stardom has not been missed by President Trump, who called out Ocasio-Cortez for her democratic socialist views during his State of the Union address.

The two also sparred after Ocasio-Cortez called Trump a racist, to which President Trump responded by essentially saying the congresswoman was irrelevant. Ocasio-Cortez then took the fight to Twitter, writing, “[Trump] probably hasn’t made more than $10 million in years” (a reference to her own proposed hike in marginal taxes on those earning over $10 million).

Ocasio-Cortez’s influence on social media has translated to her popularity across the nation. She has been hailed as the future of the Democratic Party and a recent poll found that 74% of Democrats would vote for her if she was the party’s candidate. And even among those who dislike Ocasio-Cortez, the congresswoman has made quite the name for herself, with 59% of Americans nationwide knowing who she is.

Meanwhile, Ocasio-Cortez has announced that she is running a class to teach her colleagues in Congress to use Twitter more effectively while other politicians have already stepped into the social media limelight. Beto O’Rourke, who challenged Texas Senator Ted Cruz in 2018 and is weighing a 2020 presidential run, live-streamed a visit to the dentist’s office while 2020 Presidential Candidate Elizabeth Warren has been seen drinking a beer on social media.

This expansion of what a politician can do online indicates that, for better or for worse, Ocasio-Cortez and Trump are simply at the forefront of a new digital age in politics.