Trump’s Twitter is a Campaign Megaphone

Gov. Henry McMaster’s name appeared on the president’s Twitter feed no fewer than 10 times in the month leading up to his renomination victory in South Carolina Tuesday night, with an 11th tweet late that night to congratulate him on his “BIG election win.”

That high-level endorsement from the president was sent to his more than 50 million Twitter followers – 10 times the population of South Carolina.

It’s no surprise that Trump uses Twitter, his preferred method of unfettered communication, as a megaphone for GOP candidates running in 2018. While the influence of the president’s tweets can’t be measured at the ballot box, the multitude of candidates he’s plugged on Twitter makes clear that he plans on using the platform to broadcast his support in the midterms.

As primary season has kicked into high gear over the last three months, the president has mentioned midterm candidates on Twitter almost 60 times.

The candidates who have come up the most on his feed are also candidates who face tough races, like North Dakota U.S. Senate hopeful and current Rep. Kevin Cramer. Trump tweeted his support for Cramer earlier this month and campaigned for him Wednesday night in Fargo –- rousing the crowd with many of the same lines he so frequently uses to boost chosen GOP candidates on Twitter.

A presidential tweet can be a beacon of hope for GOP candidates: Rep. Dan Donovan of Staten Island won his primary Tuesday on the heels of two tweets from Trump, while California gubernatorial candidate John Cox saw four tweets of presidential support before his primary victory earlier in June – with a fifth congratulatory tweet when he won.

And then there’s Rep. Mark Sanford, who lost the South Carolina House primary to an underdog challenger, State Rep. Katie Arrington. The president stayed quiet about the race on Twitter until mere hours before the polls closed when he tweeted that Sanford was “very unhelpful to me in my campaign to MAGA.” After Sanford’s loss, he said he’d waited to tweet his support for Arrington at the urging of staffers, who thought she wouldn’t win, but that he “had to give it a shot.”

Arrington was in a car accident about 10 days after her win that left her seriously injured. She is expected to recover in the coming weeks.

Her Democratic challenger, Joe Cunningham, said he would also be suspending events “until further notice.”

Trump’s tweets, in 280 characters or less, show both what he looks for in candidates and what he thinks will help them win. Of the almost 60 tweets the president has sent on midterm candidates since April, these are the messages he most repeatedly pushes.

Plugs for support on the tax bill are most popular. Eleven candidates have seen their names on the president’s Twitter feed because they “love” to cut taxes, want to lower taxes or were a “great help” to the president in passing his tax cut bill, according to his tweets.

Nine candidates received a Twitter shoutout for being “strong” and “tough” on crime and the border. Geographically, the candidates he’s tweeted about on border security are spread east to west from New York to California, and as far south as Florida to as far north as North Dakota.

And finally, he hones in on love for the military and veterans — often “our Military” and “our Vets,” in tweets. Over the last three months, he’s tweeted this about six candidates running up and down the ballot in 2018, like Donovan and Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, who’s running for re-election this November.

The president’s support for GOP candidates on Twitter has been matched in recent weeks by his campaign rally appearances. In just over a week, he’s traveled to Minnesota to campaign with Rep. Pete Stauber, to South Carolina to campaign with McMaster and, most recently, to North Dakota to campaign with Cramer, who will face Democratic incumbent Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in November.

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