Trump’s pre-election rhetoric – a look at the metrics

For Part Two of our series on US President Donald Trump’s Twitter activity (check out Part One here), this week at Pulsar we have been diving into Trump’s tweeting history in more detail, looking as far back as the beginning of 2013.

Below we have charted Trump’s tweets from his @realDonaldTrump account to show a month on month shift from Jan 2013 – July 2017. We can easily see the highest volume of tweets were in January 2015 at 1,297 posts:

Trump chart 1

Many of these tweets relate to Trump’s hosting of The Apprentice. However, January 2015 also saw Trump retweeting content from fans who supported the then seemingly inconceivable idea that he could run for the Presidency. Trump appears to have floated the idea of his political career change by airing the Twitter voices of those of his earliest followers. Some of the many examples include:


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Mentions of Presidency

Trump is typically seen as having exploded onto the political scene in early 2015, having never held public office before. With this in mind, here at Pulsar we thought it would be interesting to look more closely at when Trump started tweeting words related to the presidency. We saw that terms ‘president, presidency, White House, Oval Office’ became increasingly popular in the run up to January 2015. They reached their peak in April 2015, two months before Trump was officially announced as a presidential candidate. Even more interestingly, since the announcement this set of terms has been on the decline.

TRUMP chart 2

N.B. Note secondary axis used

The rise of the ‘Make America Great Again’ slogan

The slogan ‘Make America Great Again’, sometimes shortened to MAGA and often used as a hashtag, has become synonymous with Trump’s campaign and is the rallying call of his supporters. It was used as Trump’s slogan during the 2016 presidential campaign, however it was originally used by Ronald Reagan in his 1980 campaign, albeit then slightly amended to ‘Let’s Make America Great Again’.

Here we look at Trump’s tweets again, alongside mentions of ‘Make America Great Again, MAGA, #maga’ etc.:

TRUMP chart 3

N.B. Note secondary axis used

We can see that the MAGA terms come into use most prominently as early as January 2015, when Trump begins to retweet content running for president. The number of mentions increases relatively steadily, peaking in the run-up to the election. In October 2016 alone, there with 236 mentions from Trump’s Twitter account. Interestingly since Trump won the election these terms too have declined.

Since using his Twitter account to great effect to communicate to his followers during the campaign, in the months following the election result there was a significant drop in month-on-month mentions. Trump’s commitment to the account has however continued. Since his inauguration he has tweeted on average 185 times a month from this account.

The presidential @POTUS account is still primarily used to retweet the posts made from Trump’s personal account. A recent report from Brandwatch suggested that 19% of @POTUS’s tweets are retweets of @realDonaldTrump’s posts, spreading Trump’s word to the account’s 20.2M followers. Interestingly though, none of the tweets from @POTUS are retweeted from the @realDonaldTrump account. This is a heritage account adopted by Trump when he took office, having previously been established by Barack Obama in 2016. When Obama handed it over, the account’s content was archived but the 13M followers it had collected remained. Even now, a year later and bumped up to 20.2M followers, this pales in comparison to @realDonaldTrump’s 37.6M followers.

Trump retains the use of his original account, which has a larger fan base and through which he can communicate in his own unique style. His early use of terms such as ‘president’, ‘presidency’ and ‘Make America Great Again’ show how Trump used Twitter as an important political tool to gather early support and momentum for his endeavours, not something he is likely to change any time soon. How do you think he’ll continue to use social media as the main channel when seeking re-election?


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