The media and “digital age” greatly influenced this past election cycle. Soundbites played an increasingly important role, as that is what the media and citizens latched on to due to the easy ability to quickly share them across social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Going all the way back to the Republican primary, Jeb Bush was disadvantaged by the inability of his campaign to effectively adapt to this age of politics dominated by social media and hawkish news coverage.
Jeb Bush’s speeches were lengthy, and somewhat rambling, making it difficult for short snippets or soundbites to be quickly spread across social media websites. This caused him to lose some of the younger demographic since his message was not effectively conveyed to them like Trump’s message was.
A particular instance that comes to mind of soundbites hurting Bush was his “please clap” moment, which went viral quickly. From that point on, this clip negatively framed the public perception of Bush and reinforced his reputation of being older and “out of touch”.
Bush’s actual age, though, was slightly irrelevant, given Trump is a decade older than Bush, but Trump was still able to connect with the young demographic. He was able to do so mainly through his notorious tweets, as he introduced a new aspect to campaign strategies.
Both in the primaries and the general election, the media helped Trump. Trump not only received the most “free media” but also according to a graph from Media Tenor, nearly 70% of the media coverage of Trump was positive.
Moving to the general election, false equivalence really hurt Hillary Clinton. An example is a headline that read, “Trump, Clinton both threaten free press”. The ways they “threatened the free press” were very different, though.
Trump did things like (1) promising to make it easier to sue media organizations, (2) singling out reporters in the crowds at rallies, as well as (3) grab/(or)/push reporters, and (4) deny press credentials, among other things.
Clinton, did things like (1) make the media stay in a designated roped-off area during one of her events back in 2015 or (2) did not always make herself available to reporters for interviews on the campaign trail. In my opinion, the actions Clinton took do not compare to those of Trump.
The “deplorable” moment also damaged Clinton’s campaign. Clinton said, “you can put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables”. Many Trump supporters, including one my relatives who lives in Tennessee, were very offended by this comment and became just another reason for them to not vote for Clinton.
In the future, it will be interesting to see how campaign strategies change to try and use the news, social media, and soundbites to their advantage.
USA 2016 Presidential campaign. Photograph. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016.
quest.eb.com/search/300_7000093/1/300_7000093/cite. Accessed 24 Jan 2017.