Political newcomer Vivek Ramaswamy’s following on his X account (formerly known as Twitter) jumped 18% the week after the first Republican presidential debate on Aug. 23, according to data from Social Blade, a site that tracks user statistics among various platforms.
Ramaswamy, a 38-year-old businessman who founded a biotech and healthcare company, gained the highest percentage of new followers among the GOP candidates in the seven days following the debate. His highest daily total was Aug. 24 when he gained nearly 115,000 new followers.
Trump participated in an interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson on the X platform instead of attending the debate. He accumulated almost 750,000 new followers in the week after the debate, the most by any of the potential candidates in terms of raw numbers but representing less than 1% total growth for Trump, who has over 87 million followers as of mid-September.
Trump’s former vice president, Mike Pence, lost 970 followers the week after the debate, according to Social Blade. Pence struck a subdued tone during the debate. He was pressed on issues of the Trump-Pence administration and faced scrutiny from some members in his party for not overturning the 2020 election.
Still, the former vice president has 5.7 million followers as of Sept. 21, significantly more than Ramaswamy’s 1.3 million followers.
Ramaswamy fielded jabs from each of the Republican candidates but drew particular attention from Pence. Stefan Mychajliw, Ramaswamy’s deputy communications director, said this is exactly what the campaign wanted to happen.
“The fact that the (former) vice president and every politician on that stage attacked Vivek, I thought was great,” said Mychajliw. “That showed us that we were out in front, the message was right. And look, if people like the vice president and other politicians did not attack Vivek, I’d say there’s a serious problem.”
Ramaswamy was very active on X in the days after the debate. He posted 83 times on Aug. 24, many of which were reposts of coverage and videos that praised his performance.
Former United Nations Ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum were the only other candidates whose followings on X increased more than one percentage point in the seven-day period following the debates. Burgum had the fewest followers out of the group with just over 25,000 as of debate night.
Trump’s following on the X platform is more than 15 times larger than the rest of the candidates.
The former president, who has been indicted four times and said he is not attending any future debates, posted only once on X since regaining access to his account in November 2022. It was a photo of his mugshot from the Fulton County, Georgia, sheriff’s office linking to his campaign site.
Total followers were not the only way Ramaswamy experienced a popularity boost. He increased in search popularity, compared to Pence and the other candidates, according to Google Analytics data.
Mychajliw was in the war room during the debate searching via Google how many people looked up Ramaswamy’s name, in addition to the other candidates. He said it was a “mountain compared to a tiny molehill.”
The next Republican debate will be held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute in Simi Valley, California, on Sept. 27. Hutchinson and Burgum did not qualify for the second debate.
Capital News Service is a student-powered news organization run by the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism. With bureaus in Annapolis and Washington run by professional journalists with decades of experience, they deliver news in multiple formats via partner news organizations and a destination Website.