As we approach the 2020 US election, it is increasingly important to understand political reporting, and how audiences are engaging with the different facets of what is being written.

To this end, this piece marks our first look at the top articles and social posts in what will be a weekly recurring feature between now and the election. The piece will encompass various top stories and posts across different platforms from Friday morning through Thursday night every week.

Let’s start with web stories.

The top political stories on the web

There was one story that was clearly the most engaged by a considerable distance this week, and that was the death of pioneering Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bider Ginsburg last Friday. This moment was referenced in half of the top ten stories in terms of engagements – that is likes, shares and comments on Facebook, Pinterest pins, and Twitter Influencer Shares – with the most engaged iteration from NPR garnering more than 10 million interactions.

Provoke article top stories

There were other highly engaged stories that focused on politics this week, including a group of retired generals endorsing Biden, and Trump failing to commit to a peaceful transition of power after the election.

It is perhaps easier to discern the different narratives that have captured public interest in the political sphere if we limit our top ten table to only contain the top story for each individual narrative, which gives us a broader view of what is going on than the table above shows.

Here’s what that looks like:

Provoke article top narratives

It is important to note that there won’t always be a huge difference between these two charts, so we may not include it every week, but on a week like this it provides a useful insight into broader conversations.

In the above table we can see some of the other talking points that saw significant attention on social media, including The Daily Wire focusing on Hunter Biden after the release of a Senate report, New York City being deemed an ‘anarchist jurisdiction’, Mike Bloomberg paying fines in Florida to allow people to vote, and Cindy McCain endorsing Joe Biden.

So that’s what was most successful on the web then, but as we’ve seen many times it’s not always the same things that go viral across different platforms. Let’s take a look at the native posts on Facebook and Twitter that saw the highest levels of engagement in the last seven days.

The top political posts on Facebook 

The top five Facebook posts of the past week mostly came from politicians, though Dan Rather also featured.

Barack Obama was in the list twice, with a tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg being the most engaged political Facebook post of the last seven days, garnering more than 1.8 million engagements. He also invited his followers to text him and talk about how they’re feeling and their voting plan for the coming election.

Donald Trump also had two posts in the top five, with a photo of his rally in Ohio receiving more than 420k engagements, and his announcement that he would be announcing his Supreme Court nominee on Saturday topping 400k.

Dan Rather was the only non-politician to feature, in a long post about being committed to your community and your country and not staying silent that received more than 488k engagements.

The top political posts on Twitter

The top posts on Twitter were very different, and consisted of a greater variety of authors, though still mainly politicians.

The top post was Joe Biden saying he approved the message after Trump said we would never hear from him again if he lost to Joe Biden. This tweet received more than a million likes and retweets.

Cindy McCain’s endorsement of Joe Biden received more than 800k likes and retweets, while Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s response to criticism from House candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene saw almost half a million likes and retweets.

Two other viral tweets explored Trump’s response to TikTok vs COVID-19, and the amount that social media platforms are pushing people to register to vote this election cycle.

These are all very different approaches across the platforms, so it is not always obvious what is going to go viral. We’ll be back next week to discuss the most successful coverage in the week to come.

If you’d like to see coverage like this on a daily basis, sign up for our daily election briefing here.