Trump’s declining influence on public discourse

Opponents are using his own tactics against him as his domination of the wider conversation fades.

I was reluctant to write another analysis piece on Donald Trump this week. There’s a lot of other fascinating stuff to talk about, but it’s very hard to look anywhere else at the moment.

And then I saw a Trump trend that actually seemed genuinely interesting — his falling presence in public discourse.

Source: Kaleida, Feb 2017

We’ve tracked over 25,000 articles about Donald Trump over the last three months from about 20 leading publishers in the US and UK. Trump articles average about 4,500 shares on Facebook compared with 1,700 shares on average for all other articles. That rate peaked at 6,700 shares per Trump article the last week in January.

Now that his ratings have fallen performance is running at a normal-ish level, though he will surely climb again. When they do he will have a long way to go to reach Obama’s levels. Obama coverage peaked at 9,500 shares per article and averaged 5,500 over the same 3-month period we’re looking at here. Some of that was clearly related to Trump, but Trump performance figures surely benefitted from Obama’s draw, as well.

This is where things can get really interesting.

Kaleida can identify both the subjects with high correlation and those with a noticeably significant relationship to Trump. For example, the White House, Russia and Muslim all have high correlation scores. They get mentioned together a lot. This week Shinzō Abe, Nordstrom, Saturday Night Live and now Michael Flynn are showing a significant relationship to Trump. Those subjects are outperforming the norm.

Trump seems to account for over a third of public discourse most of the time. Then by including related subjects his numbers get closer to 50%. The last week in January Trump and his network accounted for nearly two thirds of all coverage shared on Facebook.

We discussed this idea of the Trump lift before. He uses it as a weapon. Trump’s tweet about Lockheed-Martin in December cut $4bn in value off their stock.

But Twitter is a conversation, and those opposing Trump’s agenda are learning how to play Trump at his own game.

US retailer Nordstrom recently cancelled their contracts with Ivanka Trump and her fashion line, apparently due to poor sales. They may have used the opportunity to troll the President knowing that his influence might help them. And, in fact, Trump’s aggressive response to the company inspired a massive surge in Nordstrom’s stock price.

Trump knows a thing or two about trolling powerful people and using their position to garner support for his own agenda. Perhaps more people were paying attention to his antics than he realized. Kmart and Sears have both joined in the game this week.

If Trump is able to build more strength across a network it could be harder to beat him at the attention game. He is in a very powerful position. But the same tool he is using to build that position could be the one that strengthens his opponents.

The name of the game at this point is trolling. It may not last. But, then again, it may have just started.