Trumpism: Election 2020

Guest Column: As the world waits for the US election results, Sandeep Kalsi, CEO, Skribe, takes us through Donald Trump’s brand of campaigning

e4m by Sandeep Kalsi
Updated: Nov 7, 2020 9:09 AM  | 3 min read
donald trump

It’s been quite a spectacle witnessing my first US election at close proximity.  New rules for effective mass communication, political campaigning and voter engagement have been deployed by the media showman of a President. This at a time when the country has never been so divided, grappling with an economically devastating virus, lockdownTs, #BLM, and social upheaval. 

Here are some of the factors that are working for Trump in this election:

Brand Trump: The President’s crusade continues unabated as once again he has defied the pundits and bamboozled the pollsters with the touted notion of a potential Democrat landslide. The early counts indicate that he has significantly expanded his base and subtly refreshed his own brand to extend the presidential life cycle.  Trump continues to defy traditional political conventions, snub global institutions and ridicule science in the apojee of a global epidemic.

Persona Matters: Trump’s charisma and personality may not endear him widely but his supporters are driven by his firm conviction and self-belief, perfectly content to park aside his personal blemishes. He projects himself as a maverick on the political stage which acts as a major USP and a thorn in the side for opponents.  His ‘gung-ho’ approach and off-the-cuff style make for political entertainment and ridicule with a near negligible impact on poll ratings.

Audience Engagement: The Trump campaign has demonstrated how to effectively appeal, connect, and engage with his core base, classified by media as the non-college educated, conservative, rural white voter. From first-hand sources, the President has even won over new segment of black and Latino voters, many of whom were bowled over by a mid-term tax rebate of $1500 in the form of a cheque signed by the President.

Slogan and Messaging: ‘Make America Great Again’ is working. It’s not his creation but he has managed to make it in his own image.  Trump continues to rattle out simplistic messaging and ‘one-liners’ amplified on Twitter (warning label of mis-information thanks to Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey).  He is a master of spin, playing out his own truths that have little or no factual substance.  Does the Covid-19 virus matter to his American base? Clearly not.  The minutia of policy does not matter to his audience, he recognises that and takes advantage, appalling as this may be to onlookers. He is able to arouse patriotic sentiments and engage in fear-mongering to meet his own agenda.

Paid or Earned: Traditionally, US political fundraising was a success barometer for electioneering, but not for Trump. Despite the Democrats amassing donations of $1.5 billion, almost 3 times in comparison to Trump’s Republicans, the overall distribution of the total popular vote is almost at par with the Democrats.  Advertising spend did not matter to Trump.  He has cleverly engaged in a mix of ‘paid’ and ‘earned media’ strategies.  As an expert newsmaker, he has driven conversations and continues to be in the headlines across all media channels, especially broadcast. 

Trump is not dead and buried yet!

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of

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