Monday, November 28, 2022

Trump will rely on a multi-million dollar war chest and loyal superfans to spread his message

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Donald Trump’s third inclination to become president could be backed by social media trailblazers and a massive fundraising pool

It’s the least surprising of announcements in many ways. On November 15, Donald Trump, the former US President who lost to Joe Biden in the 2020 election, declared his candidacy for the 2024 presidential race.

In a speech at his estate in Mar-a-Lago, Florida, Mr Trump shot at the incumbent US President and said he would make America “great and glorious again”.

Mr. Trump was herded into the White House in 2016 via social media, particularly his Twitter feed, and built a powerful database of passionate supporters with whom he could keep in touch — and solicit political donations through direct emails.

The emails that appear to be working in Pepper supporters’ inboxes: The former US President has reportedly stolen a $92million (£77million) war chest Bloombergwhich enabled him to donate $20 million to a political action group (PAC) that supported five candidates in the US midterm elections earlier this month.

It is likely that those millions will not only be used to support Mr Trump’s allies in current campaigns, but also to allow the former president to shine on social media at a time when he is currently still is excluded from Twitter.

“Trump doesn’t have the same personal online following in 2022 as he once did after being banned from Twitter in 2021 and indefinitely banned from posting on Facebook, Instagram and other platforms like YouTube and Twitch,” said Liam McLoughlin, an associate professor at the University of Liverpool, specializing in social media and politics.

Instead of relying on “organic reach” — posting on social media platforms and relying on his followers to amplify his message — Mr Trump could also be spending some of his war chest buying social media ads . On Election Day 2020, the Trump campaign bought prime ad space at the top of YouTube’s homepage — a single online ad purchase that has been estimated to have cost $1 million.

“There are a number of pro-Trump sites and communities that are running ads to support his campaign. These range from free Trump 2024 flags to promoting his speeches,” says McLoughlin. “A search of the Facebook ad library highlights a number of recent ads supporting a future presidential campaign — although it’s unclear if they’re acting directly on behalf of Trump’s team.”

The big question that could determine Mr Trump’s likely success or failure in 2024 is whether he will be able to borrow the giant social media megaphone to his advantage. Mr. Trump rose to success by bypassing the mainstream media — and the scrutiny it presented — in his successful campaign. He nearly pulled off the same trick in 2020 before being banned from Twitter, his main social media platform, for inciting violence in the January 6 riot in the US Capitol. Currently, Mr. Trump is king of his own niche platform, Truth Social, but that hasn’t had nearly the same cultural breakthrough as Twitter.

The $44 billion purchase of Twitter by bubbly South African entrepreneur Elon Musk has raised the possibility that Mr Trump could return. In the weeks following Mr Musk’s purchase of Twitter, he has delved into interacting with far-right and alt-right accounts that are creating pressure points in the culture wars, including Libs of TikTok. Mr Musk also launched his campaign to take over Twitter based on a free speech policy, believing the platform had overstepped its bounds by banning certain accounts.

Mr Musk said immediately after his purchase that he would not be making a decision about reinstating accounts of big names like Mr Trump “for a couple of weeks,” meaning the former US President could soon return to the platform to rebuild his base to supply with energy.

Coupled with free-flowing spending of those millions of dollars in reserves on social media advertising that can target swing voters on hot-button issues, it could mean Mr. Trump is well-positioned for the upcoming election cycle.

His potential chances of success are enhanced by the fact that he is still held in high esteem by influential traditional media brokers, including Fox News and its hosts, although Rupert Murdoch has reportedly warned Mr Trump his News Corp empire would not support another run .

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