Out of sight, out of mind? Mental fatigue. Overexposed? Are the scandals and crimes starting to stick to Teflon Don? Something is happening because ratings obsessed Trump has ratings that are lower than when he first entered the race in 2015 according to a new media analysis by the Washington Post’s media research analyst Philip Bump.
Bump saw Trump’s appearance yesterday on Newsmax as symbolic, the beginning of a new era. We reported on the terrible slurred phone call and the word salad, “You can’t find a game anymore, they have them on all the channels” and we noted yesterday that it appears that Trump is entering the “fat Elvis” portion of his political life, endlessly repeated old hits. Bump must have seen a similar dynamic because he wrote on Wednesday :
For about half an hour Tuesday, a former president of the United States appeared on television to offer his unfiltered assessment of the state of American politics, of foreign policy and of the various controversies flitting around the political world. You probably missed it, because it was Donald Trump offering the same pudding of rhetoric we’ve heard so often to an anchor on the far-right network Newsmax. It was to presidential appearances what a pre-dusk set at the Indiana State Fair would be to Kid Rock.
Or fat Elvis.
Why does this matter? Because we’re trying to gauge the danger going forward. We saw how Trump’s administration ended and vowed to keep a close eye on these people. Media impact is one measure of the power Trump holds over the MAGAs. It is not an all-encompassing measure of Trump’s power, but it is more reliable than most.
By that measure, Trump’s power is waning:
Soon after he announced his candidacy in June 2015, Trump took over the political and cultural conversation. You know this, and you can probably rattle off a number of the myriad reasons that it happened. (For those of you who just had the thought, “Yes, because the media didn’t do its job!!” — you’re supposed to tweet complaints like that , not just think them.) But, five years later, we tend to lose sight of how remarkable that ascent was.
In March, most of that attention had already faded away. His Google search interest was lower than at any point since June 2015, as was the amount of time he was seen on cable. The networks were covering him far less, down to the point reached last year when the pandemic overtook Trump in the national attention. Besides that, the average mentions of Trump in March were back to the levels seen in November 2015.
Consider the impact. Trump needs attention like oxygen. And yet he just cannot grab it. We suspect that if we re-ran the November election today, under the same laws, President Biden would win by an even wider margin. But, of course, the real measure is Trump’s presence on conservative cable, his only available outreach. It is circling the drain.
His hardcore MAGAs are more hardcore than ever, this is not a measure of the unmovable base. Nor is it a measure of Trump’s hold over the politicians in Washington. That, too, is inviolable.
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