President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign is gambling on an unprecedented strategy by focusing entirely on his base, while making little or no effort to attract new supporters.
The president still hasn’t cracked 50 percent approval in two and a half years in the White House, and his 2020 campaign was built around a perpetual outrage machine designed to inflame his core supporters — and drive them to the polls, reported TIME.
The campaign uses Google and Facebook algorithms to make massive digital advertising purchases any time Trump stirs up controversy, and scoops up data when supporters interact with those ads or buy online merchandise from the Trump campaign website.
“The cycle is simple: Trump says something controversial or offensive,” the magazine reported, “that drives a surge of search interest in the topic; and that gives his campaign an opening to serve up online ads. The ads encourage supporters to text the campaign, take single-question campaign-generated polls, and buy Trump hats, yard signs, beer coolers and WITCH HUNT decals from the campaign online store, all of which rakes in voter contact data.”
Trump narrowly won the 2016 election by flipping three typically Democratic states — Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — by fewer than 80,000 total votes, mostly by focusing negative attention on Hillary Clinton and energizing disaffected voters.
Steve Bannon, his 2016 campaign chief executive, said Trump can’t take those voters for granted, and must work to ensure they turn out in even higher numbers next year.
“You have to get every f*cking deplorable,” Bannon said. “Everybody’s got to show up.”
That’s a risky, and never before tried, strategy made possible by the conservative media bubble and social media.
“It is a strategy built for the new partisan era,” said Princeton University presidential historian Julian Zelizer. “Candidates are always doing things to turn out their supporters. What has not been tested, at least in modern times, is a strategy in which all the rhetoric and all the policy is just tailored around the turnout crowd and there is no effort to go beyond it.”