- President Donald Trump has made headlines in recent days for his increasingly frenzied Twitter tirades
- Odds on Twitter booting POTUS have shifted considerably within the past few weeks
- Could Trump’s Twitter escapades hurt his re-election chances?
It wasn’t all that long ago that Barack Obama was called “The Social Media President.” In fact, it’s the title of a book that was released back in 2013. It’s called “The Social Media President: Barack Obama and the Politics of Digital Engagement.” While social media did explode into the cultural mainstream during Obama’s two terms in office, typing “social media president” into your Google search bar is going to yield a very different result these days.
That’s because Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, has become synonymous with Twitter. As of this writing, the 45th president has fired off over 52,000 missives from his personal @realDonaldTrump Twitter account. Trump has maintained that his Twitter account is the best way for him to get his unfiltered thoughts to the American people.
Of course, his social media tendencies have gotten him into some hot water over the years. Some have gone as far as to urge him to ease up his frenzied Twitter habits, but the president will never log off. For better or worse.
Trump’s Twitter Rampage
There’s a pretty urgent health crisis sweeping its way across the US right now. Considering it has led to the death of 100,000 Americans and counting, you would think that would be on the mind of the person charged with running the country. Thanks to Twitter, though, we know that isn’t the case.
New papers make CLEAR that the Obama Administration SPIED, in an unprecedented manner, on the Trump Campaign and beyond, and even on the United States Senate. Nobody would ever have believed that this level of illegality and corruption would be taking place in our beautiful USA!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 27, 2020
What’s he talking about? Who knows?
Since abruptly stopping his press briefings, Trump has been even more active on social media than usual. His Twitter feed has always been a whirlwind, but he’s picking more fights these days. The timing obviously couldn’t be worse, but here we are.
Trump has been trying to distract from his own shortcomings by drumming up support for “Obamagate,” which is a fake controversy. The president doesn’t even know what it is, but “it’s been going on for a long time,” he insists.
Trump has been tweeting murder accusations at MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, as well. An intern working in Scarborough’s office when he was a US congressman died of a heart valve issue back in 2001. She was deemed to have died of natural causes, and there was never a need for an investigation. Nevertheless, Trump has decided to raise the debunked theory that Scarborough had something to do with her death. This is presumably happening because Scarborough has been critical of Trump on TV.
Trump has feuded with Fox News, his cable news provider of choice, because he thinks they haven’t been obedient enough to him recently. He’s decided to battle the Governor of North Carolina because it may not be possible to have the Republican National Convention in Charlotte, has had been originally scheduled. Earlier this week, Trump tweeted a video in which a supporter said, “I’ve come to a place where I’ve come to the conclusion that the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.”
Perfectly normal stuff for a president to be tweeting out!
Twitter’s Fact-Checking Label
Now, Trump is fighting with Twitter itself. POTUS has been railing against the idea of states sending ballots to all citizens in order to safely vote in November’s election via mail. Trump has baselessly claimed that vote-by-mail is “ripe for fraud” despite the fact that there is absolutely zero evidence of this. It’s a pretty reckless thing to say, so Twitter took the step of actually slapping Trump’s tweets with a disclaimer that cautions that what the president is saying is not true:
Naturally, this seems to have enraged Trump. On Wednesday, the White House announced that Trump would be signing an executive order against social media companies. The administration is apparently trying to limit the power of social media organizations. Essentially, Trump is trying to make it so he can blatantly lie to us all on Twitter without repercussion.
Actual details reveal that the big EO that Trump is touting doesn’t really do much of anything. Trump is trying to get regulators to look into a law that shields social media platforms from liability for the content that gets posted online by their users. The executive order will also create the “White House Tech Bias Reporting Tool,” which will basically serve as a hotline people can use to submit complaints that they are being unfairly treated by social media companies.
If it sounds lame, dumb, and pointless, that’s because it is all of those things.
Whether the executive action changes anything remains to be seen. Frankly, it’s pretty unlikely that it will. While Twitter has yet to label any of Trump’s more recent tweets with that same flag, it has done so with other accounts. Twitter added fact-checking labels to questionable tweets from other prominent users on Thursday.
Could Twitter Ban Trump?
Trump’s latest online antics have rejuvenated the debate about whether Twitter should ban the president from using their platform. The company has issued a number of nebulous reasons for why they haven’t done so yet.
In fact, you can still bet on whether Twitter will bring the hammer down on the president’s personal account. Bovada has odds on whether @realDonaldTrump will get booted from Twitter before 2022:
|Will Trump Get Kicked Off Twitter?||Odds at Bovada|
About a month ago, the odds of Trump getting kicked off of his favorite website were listed around +800. While the juice is still heavily in favor of the president being allowed to stick around, the odds have still shifted quite a bit of late. It’s safe to assume that his recent tirades have increased his chances of getting the dreaded Twitter ban.
While Twitter has taken the step to start calling out the president on his nonsense, there is still no indication that the company is actually considering suspending him for good.
In 2018, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey wrote, “Blocking a world leader from Twitter or removing their controversial Tweets would hide important information people should be able to see and debate. It would also not silence that leader, but it would certainly hamper necessary discussion around their words and actions.”
Dorsey didn’t mention Trump by name, but the implication is clear. Because he occupies a position of status, Trump is free to tweet out baseless murder accusations and insane conspiracy theories. I think the main positive that would come from Twitter banning Trump would be liberating us all of having to see 9-minute clips of Lou Dobbs groveling at the president’s feet on TV, but I suppose that will never happen.
Dorsey’s blog was written in January of 2018. His opinion on the matter may well have changed in the two-and-a-half years since, especially in light of Trump’s recent attacks on the platform. While the shift in odds is noteworthy, I’m still not convinced that Twitter is particularly likely to give POTUS the heave-ho.
At the same time, there’s very little value in betting the “no” side at the current -775 odds.
The Bet: No (-775)
Is Trump Derailing His Own Re-Election?
Since the press briefings ended, Trump has essentially tried to wash his hands (pun VERY intended) of the health crisis entirely. That’s at least part of why he is focusing just about all of his actual energy on unrelated topics.
Some believe that Trump’s lambasting of the vote-by-mail process is him trying to lay the groundwork for refusing to accept the results of November’s election if he loses. This isn’t a novel idea, of course, considering Trump was asked during a debate back in 2016 whether he would accept the results if he had lost to Hillary Clinton. If Trump loses the election with millions of Americans voting by mail, he will try and suggest that rampant voter fraud contributed to the results.
So ridiculous to see Twitter trying to make the case that Mail-In Ballots are not subject to FRAUD. How stupid, there are examples, & cases, all over the place. Our election process will become badly tainted & a laughingstock all over the World. Tell that to your hater @yoyoel
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 28, 2020
He’s also not faring well in recent polls, which has to be contributing to his lashing out. Trump trailed ex-VP Joe Biden in 46 of 48 public polls that were released in April. He has trailed Biden in 42 of the 43 public polls that have been unveiled so far this month. Trump lost the popular vote to Clinton by about 3 million in 2016. Despite winning the electoral college, Trump insisted that losing the popular vote was a result of “millions” of Americans voting illegally.
Despite Biden’s lead in the polls, Trump is still the odds-on favorite to win again in the fall:
|Who Will Win the 2020 Election?||Odds at Bovada|
Trump surely won’t win the popular vote no matter what happens this time around. Instead, he’s going to need another narrow win via the electoral college. Based on recent polling, he’s not looking good in those key swing states. Biden leads Trump in polling averages from every single battleground state, including massively important states like Florida and North Carolina. Without those states, it’s incredibly unlikely that Trump wins a second term.
Trump’s Re-Election Odds Slipping
Trump’s odds have taken a considerable hit in recent months. You could get Trump at -180 to win the election as recently as March. All that has transpired since then, including the crash of the stock market and millions of Americans having lost their jobs, has hurt his chances. Trump’s odds were also better when the Democratic field of candidates was still broad. With Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg and the rest of the field having gotten out of Biden’s way, the former vice president has seen his odds improve considerably.
Polling shows that the vast majority of Americans are in favor of people wearing masks in public these days as a public safety precaution. That makes Trump’s apparent decision to try and poke fun at Biden for following the Trump administration’s pro-mask guidelines all the more confounding.
He looks better! https://t.co/qzxn6Svlpc
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 28, 2020
Trump pulled the upset of Clinton four years ago, but things are very different now than they were then. Clinton was a heavy favorite, but her candidacy was full of controversy, even among those within the Democratic party. Clinton essentially declined to work with Sanders, who became incredibly popular during the 2016 campaign. That decision resulted in many Sanders supporters either declining to vote or voting for third-party candidates in protest.
Those same voters are less likely to make that same decision this time around. That’s due in part to the fact that Biden’s campaign has actively embraced Sanders’ platform as a key cog to their own operation. Biden may not go all-in on all of Bernie’s proposals, but Sanders’ involvement should help unite the base of Democratic voters in the way that Clinton’s campaign didn’t.
A lot will happen between now and November, but I’d be surprised if Biden didn’t emerge as the minus-money favorite by the time Election Day rolls around. That’s why you should take advantage of the even-money odds you can get while you still can. Biden at +100 is a strong value, thanks in no small part to the current president’s self-destroying Twitter habit.