The Oval

D.C. the New Salem?

With several hot news topics this week, President Trump chose to focus on the Mueller investigation.

The news this past week gave the Tweeter in Chief plenty of topics for Twitter, but President Trump’s social media was focused heavily on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Seven of Trump’s 67 tweets this week mentioned “Mueller” specifically, and he continued to call the investigation a witch hunt. “Witch” and “hunt” had six and five mentions respectively on the Tweeter in Chief’s Twitter feed.

The passing of former President George H.W. Bush only garnered three Twitter mentions from Trump – the same number of times he mentioned his former presidential rival Hillary Clinton.

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Peak Originality

President Trump’s retweet game has slowed to a near halt. Only three of the president’s 57 tweets over the last week were retweets. And, one of those retweets was of @realDonaldTrump.

President Trump has seemingly taken a step back from his normal retweeting habits. Despite major election news and the California wildfires, President Trump has mostly kept to his own words on Twitter.

Since July 1, about 16% of the POTUS’ tweets were retweets. But this week, the president’s retweet rate dropped to 5.26%, while 94.74% – or 54 tweets – were original

While Trump did retweet three times over the last week, one of those was of himself, @RealDonaldTrump. The other two retweets were Trump-friendly Twitter accounts: @FoxNewsSunday and @WhiteHouse.

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Tweet to the Polls

President Trump is hoping his Twitter base will turn up at the polls tomorrow. The president is using the social media platform to rally Republicans ahead of the midterms.

We all know by now that Twitter is the president’s go-to communications outlet, so it’s no surprise that President Trump is using the social platform to try to mobilize his conservative base ahead of the midterm elections.

In the week leading up to the midterms, one of the president’s most-used words on Twitter was “vote,” with 14 mentions. He also called out specific states with hotly contested races, like Florida, Virginia, Indiana, West Virginia, Ohio, Tennessee, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Missouri.

The president also appeared to lean into some of his pet issues – border control, jobs and crime – to rally Republicans.

The president has a whopping 55.6 million Twitter followers. But can the president leverage that social media following to influence voter turnout? We’ll be watching.

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Doubling Down on Retweets

On average, about 86% of President Trump’s tweets are original and about 14% are retweets. This past week, the president’s retweet rate more than doubled, jumping to 31%. Is this week an outlier or are we seeing a new presidential Twitter strategy?

Does President Trump have a new Twitter strategy? The president’s retweet rate more than doubled this past week.

Prior to last week, the Tweeter in Chief’s average retweet rate was 14.2% (based on roughly 900 previous tweets). This past week, that figure jumped to 31.8%, with 29 of his 93 tweets being retweets.

Hurricane Michael likely drove the higher retweet rate, as the president retweeted @FEMA and @NHC_Atlantic four times each, and also retweeted handles like @FLGuard and @FLGovScott.

Interestingly, the president continued his trend of retweeting himself this week, with three retweets for @realDonaldTrump.

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New Week, Same Trump

President Trump had a nearly 29% drop in Twitter activity over the last week. But although the frequency of his tweets declined, his focus on Twitter – himself – remains consistent.

Despite the heavy news coverage last week of the Senate hearings on Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, as well as the United Nations Security Council meeting, the president’s Twitter activity continued to center around himself.

The POTUS’s top two words used on Twitter were “president” and “trump,” tweeted 12 and eight times respectively. While Trump did mention “Kavanaugh” five times on the social media platform, none of his tweets mentioned Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who testified Thursday about an alleged sexual assault by Kavanaugh.

It’s also worth noting that Trump may have been a bit preoccupied last week, as his tweet activity declined significantly. The president tweeted 43 times over the past week, compared to an average of 60.3 tweets per week over the last year.

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Tweeting Up a Storm

This week, Trump’s retweets of other accounts was at an all-time high, as he used the platform to provide hurricane-related updates. But the president’s original – and typical – tweets remain the most popular among his base.

A new Twitter strategy? President Donald Trump retweeted more than usual this past week. Trump’s retweets made up 34%—or 40 of 117 tweets—of his overall Twitter activity over the last seven days.

Most of his retweets were related to Hurricane Florence, with the president retweeting accounts like the U.S. Coast Guard, CDC and the South Carolina National Guard. The account Trump retweeted the most over the past week was FEMA, with six retweets (although he also retweeted himself six times). In addition, Trump had 20 original tweets about Hurricane Florence, and six tweets about the death count from last year’s hurricane in Puerto Rico.

Interestingly, none of Trump’s top tweets by retweet had anything to do with the hurricane. Instead, the president’s most-popular tweets contained the typical political rhetoric against Democrats.

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His Own #1 Fan

While the country mourned the loss of Sen. John McCain, Trump used Twitter to keep the attention on himself.

Despite the influx of media coverage this week around the late Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) funeral, Trump acted a bit out of character by staying relatively quiet on the subject.

But that doesn’t mean he was quiet. He just turned up the tweet volume on … well, himself. “Trump” was the president’s most-tweeted word this past week, with 13 tweets. He also had eight tweets that included the word “president.” To top it off, three of the five tweets that Trump retweeted this week were his own. Talk about being your own biggest cheerleader.

This doesn’t mean Trump ignored the McCain funeral services though. During her eulogy on Saturday, Meghan McCain said, “The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again, because America was always great.” Later that evening, Trump tweeted: “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!,” likely in response to Meghan’s comments.

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Playing Defense

While the group of potential Democratic presidential candidates’ Twitter activity focused on health care this week, President Trump took to Twitter to defend his reputation.

Trump’s top tweet, by retweet, was in reaction to LeBron James’sstatement in a CNN interview that Trump was using sports to divide the nation. Trump’s tweet, making a dig at both CNN anchor Don Lemon’s and James’ intellect, immediately triggered an onslaught of responses from Lemon, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and California Sen. – and potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidate – Kamala Harris. Even First Lady Melania Trump weighed in, saying through her spokesperson that she is supportive of James’ efforts with children.

While the majority of the responses on Twitter were #TeamJames, none of them came close to receiving as many retweets as Trump’s original post.

Is Trump’s focus on defending himself paying off?

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Media Remains Enemy #1

President Trump was back to his sparring match with the news media on Twitter this week. Looking at his 69 tweets this week, two of his most-used words were “fake” and “news,” followed closely by “Russia” and “president.” His most-used word was “great” and the word “media” tied with “democrats” for the sixth most-used word in the president’s tweets.

While Congress and journalists were tweeting about the Helsinki Summit press conference between Trump and Putin, Trump’s Twitter activity focused instead on the “fake news media” and their characterization of his comments.

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Same Page, Different Book

This week, both President Trump and the media’s tweets were focused on immigration, but they framed the issue in very different ways. 

After “Trump” and “immigration,” some of the media’s most-used terms on Twitter include “family” and “children.” Meanwhile, the Tweeter in Chief used words like “illegal” and “border” in his posts on the subject.

All this to say, even when the media and the president find a common focus, they view the situation through entirely different lenses.