When you go through all the terrible things Donald Trump does every day, his heavy use and abuse of Twitter ranks pretty low, one would figure — well behind his incredible mendacity, racism, sexism, and bullying cruelty. On the other hand, Trump supporters mostly don’t acknowledge or don’t care about all the lying and tend to agree with the claim that the only bigots are those who accuse Trump of bigotry. And a shocking number of MAGA people, particularly white, conservative, Evangelical followers of the Prince of Peace, actively enjoy his cruel and hateful streak.
Our president’s doubling as tweeter-in-chief, however, isn’t all that popular, as Politico noted earlier this year from Morning Consult data:
Seven in 10 respondents said Trump uses Twitter too much, and 14 percent said he uses it the right amount. There were actually a few respondents, 1 percent, who said Trump doesn’t tweet enough.
Views of Trump’s Twitter use have remained consistent — and mostly negative — throughout his presidency. A year ago, 72 percent of voters said in a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll that Trump tweets too much. And in June 2017, 68 percent said Trump tweets too much.
And now the Daily Beast’s Sam Stein reports that there are Democrats who want to make a campaign issue out of it:
About two months ago, the Center for American Progress Action Fund commissioned the firm Civis to test messaging that framed Trump not as corrupt or unethical but as “ineffective”—and to attribute that ineffectiveness to his being absorbed by his Twitter feed. The results were notable. Of the six messages tested on Trump, the idea that he was “more focused on his Twitter account than on delivering on his promises” was the only one that consistently moved the vote towards Democrats, including among Obama-Trump voters.
Soon after the Civis study was commissioned, top officials in the party began pushing the line.
You can see how Trump’s Twitter addiction would rub some of his own folk the wrong way. Those who aren’t online all that much probably think it sounds like the president is playing video games all day. And Twitter’s certainly not the preferred social medium of Trump’s base: According to a 2014 Pew analysis, only 21 percent of white non-Hispanic Americans who are online use Twitter (71 percent use Facebook), and only 10 percent of online folk over 65 use Twitter (56 percent use Facebook).
The CAP Action Fund research showed that linking Trump’s twitter usage to his failure to keep promises was pretty effective, Stein reports:
The study found that on a number of issues, a large swath of voters didn’t believe Trump had kept or was working to keep his campaign promises. But it was when respondents were asked why they believe the president was falling short on those promises that things got interesting. Fifty percent of voters felt like he wasn’t keeping his promises because he was getting “distracted by other unimportant priorities like petty disagreements and Twitter,” including 65 percent of Democrats and 60 percent of Independents. It was the highest polling response. Forty-four percent said that Trump “never intended to keep” his promises, but just 35 percent of Independents said they felt that way.
Sure, if Democrats really begin deploying that message, the president’s Twitter account may bark back — but that will only make the point that he’s too focused on Twitterversies to do his actual job. The great thing is that if the Democratic message begins to draw blood, POTUS’s advisers might try to put a stop to presidential tweets — some of which he types out on various phones, mostly at night, and some of which are even more visceral, as the New York Times reported earlier this year:
“During the day, I’m in the office, I just shout it out to one of the young ladies who are tremendous,” Mr. Trump said. “I’ll just shout it out, and they’ll do it.”
If it mercifully ends, then we would not have to confront such regular assaults on our sensibilities as this highly characteristic tweet from Friday:
Personally, a Twitter-less presidency is the only way I can imagine enduring a second Trump term in the White House on an even keel. Out here on the West Coast, the first news I often see each morning is a barrage of presidential tweets. It’s enough to make you want to crawl back under the pillow and cry yourself back to sleep.