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Politics vs. football? It isn’t even close!

Posted  September 12, 2019
By Rebekah Friedman,, 803-576-7270
Photo by Zach Sweat, senior multimedia journalism major

The race for the Democratic presidential nomination is a hot topic on social media in South Carolina, but there’s another topic that dwarfs it: Gamecock football.

An analysis by the Social Media Insights Lab at the College of Information and Communications shows more than twice as many mentions of University of South Carolina football than for any of the leading Democratic candidates. 

In analyzing more than 123,000 posts made between Aug. 1 and Sept. 9, the lab found more than 36,000 comments about the Gamecocks.  By comparison, the candidate with the most comments, Beto O’Rourke, had fewer than 18,000.

“There’s a lot of interest in presidential politics, but the beginning of the season, the loss to the University of North Carolina and then the big win over Charleston Southern lit up social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook,” says Randy Covington, the college’s director of special projects.

The Social Media Insights Lab at the College of Information and Communications uses artificial intelligence-powered software to analyze social media conversations. This study examined publicly available posts on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Tumblr, blogs and forums. 

Comment totals for the seven leading candidates, as determined by Real Clear Politics, are as follows:

  • Beto O’Rourke – 17,817
  • Joe Biden – 17,519
  • Bernie Sanders – 16,017
  • Elizabeth Warren – 12,569
  • Kamala Harris – 11,791
  • Pete Buttigieg – 6,544
  • Andrew Yang – 4,238 

“Beto O’Rourke may not be leading in the polls, but he has the largest number of comments among the Democratic candidates in South Carolina, even more than Joe Biden,” says lab manager Kaitlyn Park. “O’Rourke seems to be benefitting from his outspoken reactions to the shootings in Texas and Ohio.” 

This study is the third in a series of South Carolina Insights reports that analyze social media conversations on relevant topics. The first report examined more than 23 million mentions and found that Pete Buttigieg had the largest positive sentiment on social media — both in South Carolina and the nation— among the leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination. The second report analyzed more than 70 million posts and found that immigration and abortion were the leading political topics locally and nationally.


About the Social Media Insights Lab

Housed in South Carolina’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications, the Social Media Insights Lab uses Crimson Hexagon software to generate, visualize and interpret data on everything from consumer sentiment to crisis response. Since its launch in January 2019, the lab has enhanced the university’s research efforts and raised its profile as a thought-leader in social media analytics.

View a full list of reports at and follow the lab on Twitter at @UofSCInsights

For media inquiries, contact Rebekah Friedman at or 803-576-7270.  

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