Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina are some of the most closely watched primary states. And when it comes to the Facebook primary, Hillary Clinton is easily beating the entire 2016 field in all three states.
According to data provided by Facebook to msnbc, the former secretary of state is by far the most talked about 2016 candidate in the key early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. And following Clinton, Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders comes in second in two of the three states, surpassing all the Republicans running.
From May 13 through June 13, Facebook measured the number of unique U.S. Facebook users talking about each of the candidates on the social networking site, as well as the number of interactions generated in relation to each candidate (interactions are defined as likes, comments, and shares on content related to the candidate).
During this period, Clinton was the most buzzed-about candidate by a wide margin in all three of the key primary states for which Facebook provided data. Following Clinton, Sanders came in second in Iowa and New Hampshire, beating out every Republican in the crowded 2016 field.
In South Carolina, Republican Sen. Rand Paul came in second behind Clinton, with over 132,000 interactions. Clinton had nearly three times as many, with 460,000 interactions. Paul was also the leading Republican after Clinton and Sanders in both Iowa and New Hampshire.
The pool of candidates in this race is very large at this early stage, but most of the other candidates finished far behind Clinton, Sanders, and Paul, when it came to Facebook buzz. Republicans such as Ben Carson, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Sen. Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry, Sen. Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, Carly Fiorina, Donald Trump, and George Pataki all were far behind in both unique users talking about them and number of interactions generated. On the Democratic side, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley was also far behind the leaders.
Interestingly, Jeb Bush, who is considered by many a top contender for the nomination among Republicans, did not receive strong support on Facebook in these states. In Iowa, Bush had only 62,000 interactions, while Clinton had 289,000 interactions. In New Hampshire, Bush had just 34,000 interactions compared to Clinton’s 145,000.
However, Bush officially announced his campaign for the presidency on Monday, June 15 -- two days after the end of Facebook's data collection period. Thus, it's possible that momentum on Facebook could shift in Bush's favor as the races progresses and Bush campaigns more aggressively.
In terms of sheer number of "Likes," Clinton does not dominate: she currently has just over 924,000 "Likes" on her official campaign page, while several contenders on the Republican side have well over one million Likes, including Cruz, Paul, Carson, and Huckabee. Sen. Paul has the largest Facebook fan base of any candidate, having just crossed two million Likes on his official page.
However, the buzz numbers provided by Facebook indicate that just having a large number of "Likes" doesn't necessarily translate to generating more buzz about the candidate.