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Trump towers over field in social media

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GOP front-runner Donald Trump is dominating his rivals on social media, with the most followers on two of the top three platforms.

The controversial businessman, who’s vaulted to the top of the GOP polls, has more than 3 million likes on Facebook — nearly 1 million over the nearest Republican, Dr. Ben Carson, on the most popular social network.

That’s also well ahead of the nearest Democrats. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has just over 1 million likes, and Hillary Clinton has more than 1.1 million.

{mosads}The Hill tallied the followers for each presidential campaign on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see who has the edge on social media as of Aug. 11. Where candidates had more than one account, we relied on the primary campaign social media accounts.

On Twitter, Clinton and Trump rank far ahead of the pack. Clinton tops the field with 4.02 million followers, with Trump in second at 3.67 million. But Trump is a much more avid Twitter user, with 27,400 tweets compared to Clinton’s 1,304.

Their totals are well above those of Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.), with 811,000, and Rand Paul (Ky.), with 667,000 followers. Sanders stands with 316,000 followers.

But that second GOP tier is more active on Twitter than Clinton, with Rubio tweeting 3,048 times, Paul 5,564 times and Sanders 2,823 times.

On photo-sharing network Instagram as well, Trump’s 293,000 followers and Clinton’s 217,000 lead the pack. Republican Govs. Scott Walker (Wis.) at 431 photos and Chris Christie (N.J.) at 393 are the most active, though.

Social media is playing a prominent role in the 2016 campaign, with candidates using it to directly reach out to voters and share their message. Trump has used Twitter to hammer away at his critics and Clinton has used it to weigh in on top issues.

And social media provides a snapshot of the race, with other candidates surging following last week’s first GOP debate.

Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, sparked interest with his jokes about not getting enough attention on the debate stage.

According to the Facebook-tracker Crowdtangle, Carson has a total of 3,270,574 social media interactions, topping Trump and Sanders for the week at 2,023,562 and 1,889,876, respectively.

Republican Carly Fiorina also soared on social media following her appearance in the GOP side debate for lower-ranked contenders.

In the past week, Fiorina garnered a nearly 50 percent increase in followers, for a total of 240,837 likes on Facebook. Her overall social media interactions skyrocketed 68.4 percent.

But overall, Trump’s social media power stands out. Over the past 30 days, he had the Facebook post with the most engagement. In a July 18 post, Trump said it was a “national embarrassment” that illegal immigrants receive healthcare while veterans are placed on waiting lists.

The post received 704,197 likes, 52,907 comments, and 183,444 shares, Crowdtangle found.

Here are the number of people following each candidate’s campaign page on the top three social media networks: 

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