Trump's Engagement Up, But Not Compared to AOC

Published on Mar 18th, 2019


From “GOP hails Trump bounce as harsh spotlight turns on AOC and 2020 Democrats,” published last Saturday in the Washington Examiner, written by David M. Drucker:

According to Shareablee, another media analytics firm, Trump’s engagement has increased this year, as compared to 2018, by a healthy 31 percent. But engagement with Ocasio-Cortez's posts has jumped nearly 20,000 percent, with Harris seeing a 258 percent bump, Sanders garnering 181 percent growth, and Pelosi enjoying a hike of 114 percent.

Full article below:

Leading Democrats are elbowing President Trump out of the way and commanding more of the media's attention, a development that ironically is helping Trump by reducing the relentless and often harsh spotlight on him.

The Democratic rise to power in the House of Representatives plus the party’s spirited presidential primary is competing with Trump for news coverage and on social media platforms, according to data gathered by the Washington Examiner. This shift from the previous two years, when the president dominated the political conversation, is a welcome relief for many top Republicans. They are convinced that Trump cannot win re-election if the campaign is a referendum on him.

“We’ve had our best two months in the last two years — since Elizabeth Warren announced for president on Dec. 31. For the first two years, all we talked about was Trump,” said Jeff Roe, the veteran Republican strategist who managed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign in 2016. “The game has just changed, and it’s helping Trump.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts was the first major Democrat to declare for the 2020 presidential race, signaling the news on New Year’s Eve. The Democrats, having won the House in November, assumed the majority a few days later. Since then, the share of media exposure enjoyed by leading Democrats has more than doubled from what it was last year, compared to Trump.

According to the media analytics firm Meltwater, a collection of leading Democrats in Congress and running for president chosen by the Washington Examiner saw their share of coverage in news stories grow from just 8 percent in all of 2018 to 20 percent during first two-plus months of this year. That means Trump is still receiving the lion’s share of the limelight, but Republicans say the downward trend is what matters.

With the Democrats hogging some of the attention, Republicans are more confident that 2020 will not turn on Trump’s provocative behavior. That’s what happened in the midterm elections, costing the GOP critical support in key battlegrounds. In this new competitive environment, Republicans see an opportunity to turn the presidential contest into a choice between Trump, however unsavory for many, and a Democratic Party that has drifted unacceptably left.

“Midterm elections have the effect of being a referendum on the president, but presidential elections are choices between two people,” Brad Todd, a Republican media consultant, said. “Trump does not have to beat Bill Clinton’s Democratic Party, and he could not. He doesn’t even have to beat Barack Obama’s Democratic party. He just has to beat Bernie and AOC’s Democratic party, and it’s further out of the mainstream than any of its predecessors.”

For this story, the Washington Examiner measured leading Democrats’ share of media coverage collectively. Those tracked included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and presidential contenders like Warren, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. In all, about a dozen Democrats were studied.

Trump is a social media dynamo, compared to top Democrats individually.

Yet the Democrats' engagement on social media platforms, like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, have spiked since Jan. 1. Comparing percentages of media share on social is tricky. But what is apparent is that engagement on major platforms for leading Democrats, individually, is way up. Engagement, defined as commenting, sharing, or “liking” a post, does not distinguish between negative or positive reactions.

According to Shareablee, another media analytics firm, Trump’s engagement has increased this year, as compared to 2018, by a healthy 31 percent. But engagement with Ocasio-Cortez's posts has jumped nearly 20,000 percent, with Harris seeing a 258 percent bump, Sanders garnering 181 percent growth, and Pelosi enjoying a hike of 114 percent.

Trump’s job approval tumbled during a historically long partial government shutdown that ended Jan. 25. But the president’s numbers quickly bounced back and to the higher end of a range for his ratings that spans from the high 30s to the mid 40s. As of Friday, Trump’s job approval had sagged somewhat, to 42.6 percent, per the Real Clear Politics average.

Such a low number is historically problematic for an incumbent president running for re-election. But Republicans believe Trump could survive if voters interpret the contest as choice between the president and a Democratic Party whose policies will be rejected by voters in swing states and other battlegrounds that determine the outcome in the Electoral College. Many Republicans believe Trump relinquishing his stranglehold on the media, though such a key part of his 2016 victory, is crucial to element to his success this time around.

@DavidMDrucker

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