Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, is proud of the digital campaign operation he’s created for Trump’s election. He’s even referred to it (absurdly) as a ‘Death Star’ operation.
Views of the Trump digital offering are mixed.
Dave Weigel sees Trump digital platform as interactively engaging for Trump’s fans:
Trump 2020 did not let me go so easily. A news feed let me read the latest messaging, just as it would appear to a reporter on the media list, or the campaign’s curated tweets, which prioritized big names like campaign manager Brad Parscale. An “engage” button educated me on ways to “fight with President Trump,” from hosting a “MAGA Meet Up” to joining the campaign finance committee as a high-dollar bundler. Sharing the app with a friend would award me 100 points, while sharing any news item to Twitter or Facebook would give me a single point. A good prize, like expedited entry at any to-be-scheduled rallies, cost 25,000 points.
The “gamified” Trump app has made some Democrats nervous, not least because Biden hasn’t tried to compete with it. Everything that came from the Trump campaign had an act-fast, as-seen-on-TV feeling
Amanda Carpenter thinks Parscale’s effort is less about the 2020 campaign than it is about a 2021 television launch:
When you think about it, the Trump App might be a less of a tool designed to help Trump win, than a hedge against him losing. Because while it isn’t going to convert undecided voters, it sure looks like an effective vehicle for creating an audience for a new media platform.
It would be the smartest thing his campaign has done, actually: Trump has built a massive data operation that could be turned into a viable media property that could become something like TrumpTV come January 20, 2021. And he got his political donors to foot the bill. Talk about a great kickstarter campaign.
Roger Ailes founded Fox with the vision it would become a powerhouse media ecosystem for Republicans. A new media channel pioneered by a former Republican president with a built-in following could easily be the next step. Trump TV would probably eat Fox’s lunch. He has a more significant and devoted following than any Fox star with access to the entire cosmos of Republican politicians eager to court him. And Fox itself is at a crossroads where its corporate leadership no longer even seems to know whether it wants to ride this tiger.
Besides, why would the millions of Americans who love them some Trump be willing to settle for a throne sniffer like Sean Hannity or a knock-off brand like OANN when they could get the real thing?
Jonathan V. Last thinks that while the electoral value of Parscale’s efforts will be hard to discern, it’s plausible to view the digital offering as a con game with Trump as the mark:
A lot has been written about the Trump campaign’s super-sophisticated digital operation. I am . . . not skeptical, exactly. But let me say this:
Brad Parscale has a very keen interest in making sure that his job is portrayed as being a gigantic, all-powerful black box.
In 2016, Trump cycled through campaign managers at a rapid clip. The only job security Parscale has comes from convincing Trump that he has built some magical machine which no one else—and especially not Old Man Trump—can understand. Or operate.
If Trump keeps Parscale around even as he lags Biden in the polls, it’s a sign that the president no longer believes that he is enough to get his voters out on his own and that he’s hostage to whatever sales pitch he bought from Parscale.
It’s a good reminder that inside every con man is a mark.