Former President Donald Trump is petitioning Twitter to reinstate his old @realDonaldTrump account. His own glorified blog didn’t work. His press releases aren’t working. His rallies aren’t really maintaining the level of news coverage they used to.
What Trump, as a longtime famous-for-being-famous personality and reality TV star, knows is that without a consistent platform and audience, and without people constantly talking to him and responding to him, he’s got no shot at maintaining his influence over American politics.
Now, that is not without media outlets trying their best to keep them in the headlines, but it’s pretty clear by now that constant Trump coverage is an audience-killer. Just look at CNN, which has not recovered since Trump left office yet has continued to try and keep him tied to every political story they can. Or look at MSNBC, which is still mad about Trump wanting the election overturned despite the fact that there was no way he could have done so. Every check and balance on his power as President was in play.
Axios has a pretty good breakdown of why Trump wants that Twitter audience back. There’s a chart here they built using data from SocialFlow, a site that aggregates data on trending stories, clicks, etc.
Engagement on all news Trump is down, and he knows that. Here’s more from Axios:
What’s going on: The decrease is partly explained by the fact that Trump is being written about less — there were 26% fewer stories during the last two months, compared to March and April, according to exclusive data supplied to Axios by NewsWhip.
- But interest in those Trump stories also is going down. Per article, they are averaging 28% less engagement on social media in August and September, the data shows.
The latest: Last week, Trump filed a motion asking that a federal judge force Twitter to reinstate his account, which has been banned for nine months.
I am still pretty convinced he is not going to run in 2024. I think he realizes more than his fans that running in 2024 presents the risk that he loses again. If he were to lose to Biden again, he has spent so much time convincing his followers that what matters are winners and losers, that he will ultimately prove himself to be a loser to them. But, if he can play the role of kingmaker in the GOP, he maintains influence and keeps his name out there. He has more room to play the field and work the system to his advantage.
Trump is indicating that he will run, and I have a lot of friends who think he will. I’m just not sold yet. This play for Twitter access could make or break that decision. He needs that audience up and active on social media. They’re sort of in a reflexive “defend Trump” routine right now, but more and more, their attention is turning to Washington D.C., Joe Biden, and the Democrats. They’re fighting a current battle and Trump is stuck in the previous ones.
If Trump does really want to run for President, getting his Twitter account back is a must. He has to be actively stirring his army up to get ready to go out and give full-throated defenses again. If he can’t get that platform back, he doesn’t really have much left to go on. His core supporters will return, but there is no consistent media coverage keeping him in play. That coverage would, as he well knows, come from them simply responding to his tweets.
And the media absolutely would love to cover that. It would provide cover for the Democrats who are ready to turn on one another in a full-blown civil war, and it would further tie Republicans to Trump and the January 6 riot, which is their Hail Mary play for scaring voters away from Republicans. Driving Republican support to Trump worked in 2016, and they think it would work again in 2024. Of course, the last time they made that bet, it cost Hillary Clinton the presidency.
Trump needs an audience. His rabid supporters are starting to move on, and his rabid dissenters are starting to find new targets for their rage. It’s not all about Trump anymore, which is why he wants that Twitter account back.
I don’t think any social media outlet, Twitter, in particular, is in much of a rush to give it to him, and the government can’t compel them to.