Trump, Sanders dominate Facebook chatter ahead of caucus

Trump, Sanders dominate Facebook chatter ahead of caucus
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Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersMellman: On Political Authenticity (Part 2) Former Sanders campaign manager: Don't expect email list to be shared with DNC Adult film star: Trump and Stormy Daniels invited me to 'hang out' MORE (I-Vt.) and Republican front-runner Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDems flip Wisconsin state Senate seat Sessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants GOP rep: 'Sheet metal and garbage' everywhere in Haiti MORE are dominating Facebook chatter among Iowans in the hours before the state’s important early caucuses.

Sanders was the subject of 73 percent of the caucus discussions among Democratic candidates between midnight and noon on Monday, according to the company. Former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonIntel Dem decries White House 'gag order' after Bannon testimony 'Total free-for-all' as Bannon clashes with Intel members Mellman: On Political Authenticity (Part 2) MORE generated 25 percent of the traffic and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley got 1 percent.

Trump, the bombastic real estate developer who has shocked many in the political establishment by holding the top polling spot for months, generated half of the discussion among the Republican candidates. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was the subject of 23 percent of the chatter while Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul followed them with 11 percent.

Overall, Sanders was the subject of the largest share of the discussion with 42.2 percent, followed by Trump at 21.7 percent, and Clinton with 13.1 percent.

The data does not indicate whether Facebook users are speaking positively, negatively or neutrally about the candidates — but does serve as something of a barometer of who is driving interest on the dominant social network.

Trump has regularly ranked among one of the top candidates being online. And Sanders, a self-described Democratic socialist who has drawn massive crowds with his populist rhetoric, has his own devoted following online.

The economy was the top specific issue being discussed by Facebook users in Iowa in the same time period, the company said, followed by the marriage rights of same-sex couples and the controversy over the personal email account Clinton used while at the State Department.

— This post was updated at 3:39 p.m.