Twitter’s Open Invitation To Trump To Return to Its Site Looms Over DeSantis Announcement

The former president may have the opportunity to upstage the new candidate, who has chosen to make his presidential announcement on the platform, an opportunity that could prove too tempting.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images
President Trump introduces Governor DeSantis at a rally on November 26, 2019, at Sunrise, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Billionaire Elon Musk’s open invitation to President Trump looms over Governor DeSantis’s expected campaign announcement Wednesday evening, as questions about Mr. DeSantis’s choice of platform percolate.

In November, Mr. Musk extended an invitation to Mr. Trump to return to Twitter. Mr. Trump initially brushed it aside, saying, “I don’t see any reason for it.”

Now however, the former president may have the opportunity to upstage Mr. DeSantis, who has chosen to make his presidential announcement on the platform, an opportunity that could prove too tempting.

From a strategic standpoint, an attempt to upstage Mr. DeSantis would be in line with some of Mr. Trump’s other anti-DeSantis antics, like arranging for members of Congress to endorse him shortly after a meeting with Mr. DeSantis.

Mr. Trump, however, shows no sign of slowing down on Truth Social despite the opportunity at hand and the distinct rightward turn at Twitter.

By early afternoon on Wednesday alone, Mr. Trump has fired off three anti-DeSantis tirades on Truth Social, attacking him for everything from attempting to “OBLITERATE SOCIAL SECURITY” to voting for a “23 [percent] ‘TAX ON EVERYTHING.’”

Speculation about Mr. Trump’s actions aside, there are also questions concerning Mr. DeSantis’s choice of platform from a reach perspective. While Twitter certainly has more active users than cable channels have viewers, Twitter is something of a gamble in terms of reaching Republican voters.

The reason is because Twitter’s demographics don’t line up with the average Republican voter, which could mean his message isn’t going to get in front of the people he needs to win the primary.

In America, a plurality of Twitter users — about 42 percent — are under the age of 29, and another 27 percent are between 30 years old and 49 years old, according to the data intelligence firm Demand Sage.

For comparison, the most recent data from Pew Research, collected in 2019, suggests that a majority of Republican voters, or about 56 percent, are over the age of 50. Only 25 percent of American Twitter users are over 50 years old.

While audience demographics aren’t everything — Twitter often plays an outsized role in the national discussion — the mismatch in audience does raise the question of why Mr. DeSantis would opt to announce on the platform.

One possibility is to capitalize on Mr. Musk’s personal popularity. A recent Harvard Harris poll found that Mr. Musk is the most popular political figure in America, with 47 percent of respondents holding a favorable opinion of the billionaire compared to 33 percent who hold an unfavorable opinion.

Mr. Trump was the second most popular figure in the poll, with 46 percent favorability and 47 percent unfavorability. Mr. DeSantis was the third most popular, with 45 percent favorability and 37 percent unfavorability.

Mr. Musk confirmed that he will be interviewing Mr. DeSantis at a Wednesday Wall Street Journal event that will likely draw fans of both Mr. DeSantis and Mr. Trump.

“I will be interviewing Ron DeSantis, and he has quite an announcement to make,” Mr. Musk said. “And it will be the first time that something like this is happening on social media and with real-time questions and answers, unscripted.”

According to a professor of political science at John Jay College, Brian Arbour, the decision to announce on Twitter might also have an advantage in winning press coverage.

“DeSantis’s choice to announce his campaign on Twitter has the advantage of being novel and different,” Mr. Arbour tells the Sun. “And thus I think [it will] play well among journalists.”

He did, however, identify a potential pitfall of Mr. DeSantis’s campaign, which is that he is crafting a campaign strategy that is “extremely online.”

Mr. Arbour says that he’s not sure if “the average Republican primary voter cares about that,” in reference to the rumblings of the terminally online commentariat. 

Some have expressed praise for the decision to make the first move on Twitter. In a survey of political strategists, Semafor found there was considerable disagreement, with some calling the move astute and others saying it is out of touch.

Democratic strategist Rodell Mollineau told Semfor that announcing on the platform could be “advantageous to reaching” some of the most prominent voices in the “activist primary.” 

The New York Sun

© 2023 The New York Sun Company, LLC. All rights reserved.

Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. The material on this site is protected by copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used.

The New York Sun

Sign in or  Create a free account

By continuing you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use