Navigating the Digital Media Maze of the 2024 US Presidential Election

By Henley Worthen · April 03, 2024

Navigating the Digital Media Maze of the 2024 US Presidential Election

Did you know about half of the world’s population will vote in an election in 2024?

With elections across countries big and small like the US, India, Uruguay, and Lithuania, national elections will require comprehensive coverage across news sites and social media.

We’ll be pairing Tubular’s social media insights with Chartbeat’s on-site analytics to paint a 360-degree view of the evolving political landscape leading up to this fall’s US Presidential Election and others around the world. 

To kick things off, we’ll catch up on the Republican primaries and look ahead to the general election. It’s safe to say that we have solidified party candidates, and unless Biden or Trump unexpectedly drops out for health problems or legal qualms between now and November— we’ve got a rematch on our hands.

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A Look Back at the Primaries

Despite the early promise of Ron DeSantis and the fortitude of Nikki Haley, when we compare the candidates by Engaged Time on sites in the Chartbeat network, Donald Trump dominated audience attention.

Even after Trump declined to attend the first Republican debate in August 2023, the former president still earned more on-site engagement than DeSantis or Haley. On average, Trump earned 5X the daily engagement of DeSantis and 22X the daily engagement of Haley.

social media insighs

YouTube viewership during the Republican primaries

social media insights

Tubular’s social video insights tell a similar story…

Over the last six months, Trump videos received tens of millions more views than videos related to Haley and DeSantis. While viewership does not equate to votes, it’s clear that Trump had an insurmountable attention advantage.

Comparing this year’s primaries to 2020

As the results of the Republican nomination became clearer, on-site audiences actually read more articles related to elections than they did during the same early primary cycle in 2020. Not only have page views remained higher than the last election, but they have grown with each successive race, starting in Iowa (days 1-7 on the graph above), growing in New Hampshire (days 8-14), and finally crescendoing on Super Tuesday (days 15-21). 

2020 followed a similar, if smaller, pattern, but it’s worth noting that the primaries were still competitive at that point in the election cycle. On this year’s Super Tuesday, Nikki Haley was still in the race, but it was a matter of when and not if she would concede the nomination to Trump. 

on site chartbeat insights

A Bird’s Eye View of Today’s General Election Battleground

While Trump blew away Republican challengers on site and social, how does he stack up to Biden as we turn our attention to the general election? 

Incumbents typically garner much more attention than their opponents, but as we know, Trump is no ordinary candidate as a former president with a knack for attention-grabbing headlines and controversy. 

If we look back to 2020, then incumbent Donald Trump was getting more than 5X the on-site engagement of Biden.

This election, between August 2023 and March 2024, Biden-related articles received a daily average of 272,000 hours of Engaged Time while Trump-related articles averaged about 220,000 hours. This is much closer than the engagement advantage Trump maintained while running for reelection in 2020. 

on site chartbeat insights

While Biden has had higher highs in terms of on-site engagement, particularly in October following the Hamas attack in Israel, Trump has also had his engaging days on site, often as a result of his legal escapades.

For example, Trump saw a major spike in August of 2023 when he surrendered himself to the Fulton County Jail for charges related to an alleged scheme to overturn the election in Georgia. Upon his release, he fanned the social flames by tweeting his mugshot on X, his first tweet since his account was suspended during the insurrection at the Capitol in 2021. 

Trump vs. Biden, the social story.

In the realm of social media, Trump outperforms Biden across platforms. On only three occasions in the past six months has election-related YouTube content about Biden approached or surpassed Trump content.

social media insights

Tubular found that over the past 6 months…

  • Trump has won almost 2X as many YouTube views as Biden
  • Facebook has a more even margin with Trump taking 53.3% of views to Biden’s 46.6%
  • On TikTok, the Trump/Biden split is 60/40

Misinformation on social

With any social platform, we have to be wary of unregulated media and misinformation, especially with the proliferation of AI in the past year. 

For example, in August 2023, the most viewed TikTok content about the US presidential election had over 13 million views and 1 million engagements and featured Trump being frantically arrested by police. While the carousel of images looks eerily real, it was actually created by AI.

It’s vital that trusted media publishers establish a strong presence on newer social platforms as a source of truth for young Millennial and Gen Z voters.

Social Media Demographics

Looking at those who are viewing Trump and Biden election content, Tubular identified the largest age demographic is 55+, making up 41% of all Facebook viewership. What’s interesting is that the male audience of 45-54-year-olds is actually smaller than the audience of 25-34 and 35-44-year-olds on this platform.

social media insights

When we look at those watching US presidential election content about Trump and Biden on YouTube, it’s even more male-dominated than Facebook’s. On YouTube, men make up about 77% of all US presidential viewership.

social media insights

This insight reveals an opportunity for campaigners to target the untapped female audiences on YouTube.

In the digital age, social media platforms have become election battlegrounds where political narratives are forged, debated, and discussed. While views don’t equal votes, they do give us an idea of the topics that actually influence voters. 

For both candidates, Tubular data reveals interesting insights about what their social audience cares about. In the chart below, you can see some of the hot topics watched by each candidate’s YouTube account audience.

Joe Biden vs. Donald Trump’s Owned YouTube Channels  

*This is not election-specific content

social media insights

The audience that watches Joe Biden’s YouTube channel is concerned with a ceasefire between Israel and Palestine likely because this war has erupted under his presidency. Almost 30% of Biden’s YouTube audience also watched content about Gun Control in September 2023 after he established the first-ever White House Office of Gun Control Prevention to address the gun violence that has been plaguing America. 


Those who watch Trump’s YouTube account unsurprisingly also watch content that aligns with some of his platform’s biggest points such as illegal immigration. Censorship and freedom of speech correlate with his active use of Twitter during his presidency. Freedom of Speech has been the most prevalent topic for his audience – over the past year, an average of 36% of Donald Trump’s YouTube audience also watched videos about Freedom of Speech.

Below, we used Tubular to explore key election topics that are likely to sway people’s votes such as abortion and immigration. The chart depicts audience affinity on YouTube. The numbers you see indicate the likelihood of Biden or Trump’s owned audience to also watch videos about these election topics.

social media insights

Trump’s YouTube audience is 49.9x more likely to also watch videos about abortion than other audiences, while Biden’s audience is 38.5x more likely to watch videos about gun control. 

Despite Trump and his attention-grabbing antics winning more views and engagement overall, his YouTube audience is only slightly more active when it comes to these election topics, and Biden’s audience even leads for gun control likely due to his Democratic base’s support of it. 

How are audiences engaging with topics on site?

Our analysis of on-site engagement with popular election issues shows that readers are spending more time with topics like climate change, education, and economic policy than crime, abortion, or immigration. 

on site chartbeat insights

While the topic of climate change enjoyed a boost from coverage of the UN Climate Change Conference in November and December, education and economic policy have had a steadier amount of engagement in the last six months. Topics like Crime / Guns, on the other hand, are more influenced by breaking news events like mass shootings.

What’s next

As we prepare for more election milestones, Tubular and Chartbeat will continue to track candidates, audiences, topics, and trends that emerge on news sites and social media.

While this year may feel like a rerun of the same candidates and the same issues, the socioeconomic landscape is vastly different and the nuances within the data will help us navigate the road ahead.

If you’d like to follow along as we analyze election content throughout this year, make sure to subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to know about our next installment. 

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