As the 2020 U.S. presidential election approaches, it’s important to note that U.S. President Donald Trump has no rival in the media space.
This will be the first election and first voting opportunity for those Americans who were born after the United States launched a global war on terror in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, with a significant part of the Middle East still embroiled in one kind of war or another.
An entire generation grew up in the “age of endless war”, so it is not surprising that the 73-year-old Trump and his 78-year-old Democrat rival Bernie Sanders both place a strong emphasis on bringing those conflicts to an end while also backing out of the global policing role that has mostly been forced on the U.S.
Previous experience has shown that Democrat candidates could rely strongly on the votes of the young generation, and this was also why Barack Obama based his campaign on new media, conquering it in the same way Franklin D. Roosevelt did with the radio and John F. Kennedy with television.
Those tree pivotal moments in the way politicians in the U.S. used the media changed campaigning forever.
In the current race for president, Donald Trump has an unequivocal command of new media, handling microblogging and Twitter just as deftly as Obama used Facebook and Youtube. According to the Twiplomacy research group, Trump is the second most proficient microblogging politician after Saudi ruler Ibn Saud, whose entries also generate a huge response on social media.
In addition, Trump’s often crude, disparaging or sarcastic remarks go well beyond the Twitter universe, instantly becoming leading news. This not only means that he dominates the discourse, but also that his ideas are the ones the opposition press has to deal with.
This has already won him the presidency once. While many regard his often grammatically incorrect and terse messages with contempt, many analysts say it’s this very style that makes him so successful, with Trump producing messages that average people can grasp and relate to.
While the Democrats – such as Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden – and their campaign staff do their utmost to catch up to Trump’s pace, neither their reach nor engagement compares to that of the current president.
Many things can happen until November, but one thing seems certain: Given the ubiquity of new media and its fickle nature, traditional opinion polls may no longer have the accuracy or predictive power they once did.
Title image: U.S. President Donald Trump (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)