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One Data Point Suggests Trump’s Social Media Ban Actually Helped Him

Former President Donald Trump’s banishment from major social media platforms a year ago has made him more popular and powerful than ever, according to a new Wall Street Journal report.

SO WHAT

If Trump’s appeal really is more about substance than style, that could have big implications for the GOP’s strategy in 2024 and beyond.

WHAT HAPPENED

The Journal report, published Sunday, cited FiveThirtyEight data showing that Trump’s average net approval rating has has increased to -9 points.

  • That was up from almost -20 points a year ago, just prior to his social media ban.

“The ban has been a rallying point among the former president’s supporters,” wrote the Post’s Michael C. Bender and Georgia Wells.

  • “And while Mr. Trump’s poll ratings remain more negative than positive, public opinion about the former branding magnate and reality TV star has improved significantly since he was removed from social media after his supporters.”
  • “Current and former aides to Mr. Trump said the shift in popularity was largely attributable to the former president’s diminished social-media presence,” per the report.

This is not a new theory: Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen predicted last July that Trump would benefit politically from getting the boot from social media.

  • “Trump’s social media exile is the best thing that ever happened to him,” wrote Theissen, a onetime speechwriter for former President George W. Bush, saying that Trump had “exhausted” many Americans with his omnipresence in the media.
  • “If absence makes the heart grow fonder, then this is good for Trump,” he added.

OK, BUT

Trump may also be benefiting from the historic unpopularity of the Biden administration.

  • “Nearly 54% of Americans express disapproval of the job Mr. Biden is doing in the Oval Office. a new high for his term in the RealClearPolitics average of public opinion polls,” per the Journal report.
  • “Meanwhile just 42.3% of Americans approve of the president’s work.”

Anyway, if Trump declares he’s running for reelection in 2024 as expected, he will quickly be overexposed all over again, likely erasing any advantage from his period of quietude in an instant.

BIG THOUGHT

The question of whether Trump’s tweets are a feature or a bug is part of a bigger debate about the possibility of “Trumpism without Trump.”

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