As we prepare for 2021, W2O has been tracking four bellwether Senate races to best understand how potential voters are thinking about key election topics as we reach the final weeks of the 2020 election.

The stakes for health care remain high. If control of the White House and the Senate flip, major reform becomes more likely, and the threat of a Supreme Court ruling that throws out the Affordable Care Act will loom over the new Congress regardless of the party in power.

This week’s analysis focuses social conversation from 9/30/20-10/6/20, a week that dropped multiple October surprises: a Supreme Court-turned-COVID-super-spreader event, the highest-profile COVID case in the world and on-again-off-again COVID stimulus talks.

As we assess how the data is shifting week-to-week, the following election narratives continue to rise to the fore:

  • In Arizona, health care still isn’t breaking through the way it has in other states, as topics like debate decorum and incumbent Martha McSally's (R) efforts to distance herself from Trump's policy positions, while continuing to support filling the Supreme Court vacancy consume most of the conversation.
  • Conversely,In Colorado, health care continues to be a leading topic of social conversation, driven primarily by Democratic challenger, John Hickenlooper. Hickenlooper has focused the health care conversation on how his achievements as former governor compare with Cory Gardner's (R) opposition to Medicaid expansion and protections for pre-existing conditions.
  • In Maine, there is no single issue defining the election's social conversation, though much of the conversation has focused on Susan Collins’ (R) role in confirming conservative Supreme Court justices, and her potentially risky attendance at the White House Rose Garden event, after which multiple people tested positive for COVID.
  • In North Carolina, challenger Cal Cunningham's (D) personal issues seemed to take a back seat, at least temporarily, once Thom Tillis (R) tested positive for COVID, after attending the SCOTUS Rose Garden event. Despite previous widespread discussion about Tillis's opposition to Medicaid expansion, health care dropped to one of the least-talked about topics in this time frame.

A note on methodology: Analysis focused on Twitter conversations from 9/30/20-10/6/20. Share of voice (SOV) measures candidate name mentions, owned tweets and retweets driven from candidates' Twitter accounts. Key topics measured during this time period included drug pricing, universal health care/socialized medicine, Medicaid expansion, social injustice, COVID-19 government response, and Supreme Court vacancy and nominations.