Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez does not have the national presence of someone who’s been in office for less than three months and in politics for only about a year. If I gave you five minutes to name as many freshman members of the House as you could, I suspect you’d have mentioned Ocasio-Cortez, even if you weren’t reading this article — and probably not too many others.
Most freshman representatives, for example, don’t get Time magazine covers before they’ve cracked the 100-day mark. AOC did.
All of that said, though, one line in the magazine’s profile of Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), written by Charlotte Alter, jumped out at me.
“Wonder Woman of the left, Wicked Witch of the right,” Alter writes, “Ocasio-Cortez has become the second most talked-about politician in America, after the President of the United States.”
Alter doesn’t appear to be claiming that this is objectively true but, rather, tries to capture the extent to which Ocasio-Cortez has overtaken the national political conversation. But it’s an interesting question to consider: Is she actually the second-most-talked-about politician in the country?
As it turns out, she is not — but she holds her own.
Let’s first consider the talkiest source of talk in the United States — cable news networks. There, President Trump has consistently earned the most mentions on any given day, across all three of the largest networks. At times, Ocasio-Cortez has been a distant second — at least on Fox News, where she has been talked about 4½ times as much over the past month as on MSNBC and nine times as much as on CNN.
On most days, she’s overtaken by Democratic primary candidates or candidates to be, such as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke and former vice president Joe Biden.
On average over the past month, Ocasio-Cortez has been mentioned less frequently on the cable news networks than Biden, O’Rourke, Sanders — or even Hillary Clinton. The same holds for news shows on broadcast channels, too. She fares a bit better in mentions in major newspapers but still trails Clinton and Sanders. And, of course, the president.
Even in online articles, Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t slip into second place.
Instead, the freshman representative is talked about in the media only as much as people who might be the Democratic Party’s nominee for the presidency and, therefore, the next president of the United States. Instead of being the second-most-talked-about politician in the country, she’s talked about only as much as people who are launching presidential campaigns and struggling mightily to slice off even a part of the nation’s attention.
Instead, Ocasio-Cortez is only on the cover of the nation’s premiere weekly news magazine. We suspect she’ll accept that status.