Today Facebooks Oversight Board, (its self-designated supreme court) upheld the decision to ban Trump from its platform. His account was suspended the day after the January 6 insurrection for his role in promoting and condoning the violent attacks on the Capitol that resulted in 5 deaths, at least 138 injuries, destruction of property, and over 400 arrests so far. However, the board took issue with the indefinite nature of the ban. The ruling stated that Facebook itself should reevaluate the ban within 6 months of this decision.
For four years the press and the public reacted to an unprecedented barrage of Trump Facebook posts and tweetssometimes appearing early in the morning or late at night. It wasnt too hard to distinguish between his own messaging and official messaging. His own was more outrageous, more prone to spelling errors and often at odds with what the rest of his government was saying. His musings appeared regularly on television news shows, often followed by administration officials trying gamely to figure out what he meant or how it wasnt really the opposite of what his government had just said.
And then, because of decisions by Facebook and Twitter, he went dark only a few weeks before he left office for what has been a relatively quiet retirement at Mar a Lago. What impact did going dark have on his popularity?
Following is a graph from RealClearPolitics that charts the average of Trumps approval ratings starting on January 6, the day of the insurrection at the Capitol, to the end of April. On the day of the insurrection Trump was viewed unfavorably by slightly more than half of the public and the gap between his unfavorable ratings and his favorable ratings was 10.5%. Ten days after the insurrection, as more and more people digested Trumps role in what happened that day, the gap between his unfavorable ratings and his favorable ratings grew to 21.6% of the public. But in the months following he gained back some of what he had lost and the gap has remained more or less stableat about 16% as of the end of April.
So far three months of relative silence from Trump on social media do not seem to have affected his standing with hardcore supporters that appear to constitute between 35% and 41% of the electorate. These numbers are more or less the same as Trumps numbers throughout most of the second, third and fourth years of his presidency, which were notable for the fact that unlike previous presidents he never obtained favorable ratings from 50% of voters. The stability in Trumps numbers leads to a variety of hypotheses about the importance of social media.
First, it is possible that Trump supporters, hostile to the media and big corporations, do not respond to survey research and thus support for Trump is lower in polls than it is in reality. This possibility is supported by the fact that turnout for Trump in the actual 2020 election was far greater than many polls had predicted.
The second possibility is that the impact of social media on politics is not as influential as members of the political establishment and the press think it is. A Pew poll from this spring found that 70% of social media users never or rarely post or share about political, social issues.
In other words, a subsection of the populationprobably the same people who, in a different generation would have been mailing letters or calling into radio showscreate a large portion of the social media noise.
The third possibility is that by the time of his election loss Trump had created a hardcore base within the Republican Party that was powerful enough to dictate internal party decisions. Look, for instance, at the attempt to dislodge Trump critic Congresswoman Liz Cheney from her leadership position. That base may have solidified to the point where it does not need constant tending by Trump himself, thus making access to social media platforms less crucial. In spite of his being banned from social media his support among Republican voters has remained strong this year, as the following table using data from the Morning Consult/Politico poll indicates.
Table 1: Donald Trumps favorability among Republican voters (Morning Consult/Politico)
This strength, however, may have come at a cost. While Trump appears to have solidified his hold over the Republican Party, he also appears to have damaged the brand. Gallup has asked about party identification in polls going back decades. By the end of the first quarter of 2021 they found that people who identify as Democrats were more numerous than people who identified as Republicans by a margin of 49% to 40%. This is the biggest gap in party identification in a decade. It also correlates with an increase in people who say they are independent.
My final hypothesis is that even if Trump does return to social media, it is possible that his pronouncements will not be magnified by the mainstream press, especially television, now that he is no longer president. During his presidency Trumps most outrageous lies were covered because he was the president and many reporters and editors felt that they had an obligation to report what the president said. They may not feel the same obligation to an ex-president in Florida. (In the week after he was silenced, misinformation about the election dropped 73% according to a study by Zignal Labs.) This possibility has, no doubt, been a concern to Trump who just recently launched a new site From the Desk of Donald J. Trump as a way of getting around the social media ban.
So while todays decision has momentous consequences for social media in the coming decade, it may not have momentous consequences for Donald Trumps future. He remains the undisputed leader of a political party but that party has lost two elections in a row (2018 and 2020). In four years as president of the United States he was unable to expand his base. And now, the changing demographics of the country seem to be working against him. With or without social media he may have trouble expanding his following enough to become president again.
See more here:
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- Will Pence primary Trump and win? | TheHill - The Hill - July 25th, 2021
- Donald Trump says Cleveland Indians name change is 'such a disgrace' and 'disrespectful' to Native Americans - Business Insider - July 25th, 2021
- Donald Trump Allies Break With Ex-President on Supporting Ohio House Candidate - Newsweek - July 25th, 2021
- Joe Biden Mocking Donald Trump by Drinking Water With One Hand in Viral Video - Newsweek - July 25th, 2021
- Michael Cohen says he thinks Jared Kushner has already flipped on Trump - Business Insider - July 25th, 2021
- Certified Loser Donald Trump Is Rebranding MAGA as a Full-On Cult - Daily Beast - July 25th, 2021
- Donald Trump Jr. Responds to Kimberly Guilfoyle 'The View' Rumor - Newsweek - July 25th, 2021
- Donald Trump Jr. intrigued by Kimberly Guilfoyle replacing Meghan McCain on 'The View' - SFGate - July 25th, 2021
- How Scott Walker's Wisconsin Paved the Way for Donald Trump's America - Jacobin magazine - July 25th, 2021
- Melania Trump told Donald Trump she did not think he would win in 2016, former lawyer Michael Cohen told Insider - Yahoo News - July 25th, 2021
- Why the investigation into Trump's alleged misdeeds may be in trouble - Salon - July 25th, 2021
- Trump opines on coup while rejecting fears about his actions - Associated Press - July 16th, 2021
- Trump Lawyers Who Spread False Election Claims Are Now Defending Themselves In Court - NPR - July 16th, 2021
- Opinion: Why we still pay attention to Donald Trump - Poynter - July 16th, 2021
- Kremlin papers appear to show Putins plot to put Trump in White House - The Guardian - July 16th, 2021
- What you need to know about Bill McSwains letter to Donald Trump on Pa. voter fraud - The Philadelphia Inquirer - July 16th, 2021
- Donald Trump's angry at Brett Kavanaugh but this court is a huge win for the far right - Salon - July 16th, 2021
- Mike Pence and Benjamin Netanyahu pushed Donald Trump to bomb Iran after losing the election: rpt - Salon - July 16th, 2021
- Legal threats to Donald Trump more serious than ever before, experts say - The Guardian - July 14th, 2021
- Donald Trump Isnt Letting It Go - The Atlantic - July 14th, 2021
- The Trump Organization Desperately Tries to Distance Itself From Its Criminally Indicted CFO - Vanity Fair - July 14th, 2021
- Trump Is Very Disappointed in Brett Kavanaugh for Not Helping Him Steal the Election - Vanity Fair - July 14th, 2021
- Biden takes big break from habit of avoiding Trump talk | TheHill - The Hill - July 14th, 2021
- Trump's Revenge on Brad Raffensperger in Georgia - The Atlantic - July 14th, 2021
- I've lived under Donald Trump and Fidel Castro. Both taught me the importance of defending truth. - America Magazine - July 14th, 2021
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- Inside Donald Trumps Last Days in the White House and Plans for a Comeback - The Wall Street Journal - July 12th, 2021
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- Trump team waited for Wisc. election updates, had time zones wrong: book - Business Insider - July 12th, 2021
- Governors' races see flood of pro-Trump candidates | TheHill - The Hill - July 12th, 2021
- F--k Him: Rupert Murdoch Reportedly Made the Call to Bury Trumps Election Night Dreams in a Shallow Grave - Vanity Fair - July 12th, 2021
- Trump says he paved the way for billionaires' space race - New York Post - July 12th, 2021
- Fact-checking Donald Trump on there being 'no reason' for shooting Ashli Babbitt - PolitiFact - July 12th, 2021
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- Who's the Top MAGA Influencer Six Months After Trump Social Media Ban? A Newsweek Ranking - Newsweek - July 12th, 2021
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- Still reeling from election loss, Trump says Mitch McConnell 'blew it' for America - Courier Journal - June 28th, 2021
- QAnon Followers Think They See Donald Trump in White House Window Reflection - Newsweek - June 28th, 2021
- Donald Trump Denies That He Asked Justice Department To Go After Saturday Night Live - Deadline - June 28th, 2021
- Reports of a "diminished" Trump are greatly exaggerated he can ride the Big Lie to a 2024 win - Salon - June 28th, 2021
- Is This What Donald Trump Really Thinks Of Rudy Giuliani? - The List - June 28th, 2021
- Out-of-Practice Trump Forgets to Strand Rally Crowd in Parking Lot - The New Yorker - June 28th, 2021
- From Trump to vets: Its a nice break from trench warfare of politics - Deseret News - June 28th, 2021
- Donald Trump Has Apparently Been Questioning All that Jared Kushner Did for His Administration - Yahoo Entertainment - June 28th, 2021
- Of Course Trump Tried to Get the Justice Department to Stop SNL From Making Fun of Him - Vanity Fair - June 24th, 2021
- Pence May Finally Be Ready to Strike Back Against Trump - Business Insider - June 24th, 2021
- Inside the extraordinary effort to save Trump from COVID-19 - Anchorage Daily News - June 24th, 2021
- Is banning Trump from Facebook a First Amendment issue? Clarence Thomas, other conservatives say it is - USA TODAY - June 24th, 2021
- Analysis: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott already has the one endorsement he needs - The Texas Tribune - June 24th, 2021
- Facebook says Donald Trump to remain banned for two years, effective from Jan. 7 - CNBC - June 6th, 2021
- No, Donald Trump didnt win Texas by a lot in 2020; it was among the worst GOP victory margins in decades - The Dallas Morning News - June 6th, 2021
- Did Donald Trump Wear His Pants Backwards? Kris Kross Memes Have Already Begun - Yahoo Entertainment - June 6th, 2021
- The Confusing Law That Could Shape Trumps Legal Fate - POLITICO - June 6th, 2021
- Republicans fear Trump will lead to a lost generation of talent - POLITICO - June 6th, 2021
- Matt Gaetz, Donald Trump and why obstruction of justice matters - MSNBC - June 6th, 2021
- Donald Trump Jr. joins Cameo | TheHill - The Hill - June 6th, 2021
- Don McGahn's Testimony Could Finally Break Donald Trump's Ability to Evade the Law - The New Republic - June 6th, 2021
- Donald Trump's new blog crashed after he posted an unverified claim about election fraud in Arizona - Business Insider - May 20th, 2021
- What we know about investigations looming over Donald Trump and Trump Organization - USA TODAY - May 20th, 2021
- Donald Trump, coronavirus news & more: Whats trending today - cleveland.com - May 20th, 2021
- Donald Trump flies north for the summer to New Jersey golf club - The Guardian - May 20th, 2021
- Donald Trump Is An Exemplary Tenant, Says His Washington D.C. Landlord - Forbes - May 20th, 2021
- Joe Biden proves an elusive target for Republicans. After Cheney fight, their focus is back on the president - USA TODAY - May 20th, 2021
- Donald Trump Bashes 2020 Presidential Election As 'Crime Of The Century' - HuffPost - May 20th, 2021
- Does Donald Trump Know He Could Be Arrested This Year? - Yahoo Entertainment - May 20th, 2021
- Trumps Social Media Magic Appears to Be Wearing Off - Vanity Fair - May 11th, 2021
- Bennet Wants White House Review Of Trump's Decision To Move Space Command Away From Colorado Springs - Colorado Public Radio - May 11th, 2021
- Mike Pence looks at the 2024 presidential race but sees Donald Trump everywhere - South Bend Tribune - May 11th, 2021
- Glaring Problem With GOP's Trump Obsession. He Doesn't Need Them Anymore - Business Insider - May 11th, 2021
- Is there a Snapple Fact that says that Donald Trump lost? Lid tweet goes viral! - HITC - Football, Gaming, Movies, TV, Music - May 11th, 2021
- The Truth About Melania And Donald Trump's Relationship Today - Nicki Swift - May 11th, 2021
- Donald Trump returns to social media with glorified blog ... - May 9th, 2021
- Murphy gliding in NJ's primary; GOP wrestling with Trump - Associated Press - May 9th, 2021
- Trump wouldn't be the first ex-president to run again but he might be the last - Salon - May 9th, 2021
- Caitlyn Jenner praises Donald Trump and says she's in favor of building 'the wall' in Sean Hannity interview - Business Insider - May 9th, 2021
- Republicans cry big tech bias on the very platforms they have dominated - The Guardian - May 9th, 2021
- Letters to the editor: Doctor against medical marijuana; readers address Donald Trump's lie, Medicaid expansion - The Topeka Capital-Journal - May 9th, 2021
- Donald Trump's Adult Children Are Still Costing Taxpayers Thousands Of Dollars A Day - HuffPost - May 7th, 2021