On MSNBC host Chris Hayes’ podcast last year, Ta-Nehisi Coates correctly diagnosed the Trump-Twitter phenomenon. “He’s the perfect Twitter user,” Coates said. “An artist being matched to his genre.”
This means Democrats who want to beat Trump have to beat him on his home court. Trump employs a peculiar form of media warfare you simply can’t prepare for — the kind that so flustered odds-on GOP primary favorite “Low Energy” Jeb Bush he couldn’t even make it to Super Tuesday.
On one level, Trump has a tremendous leg up on his opponents when it comes to digital guerrilla warfare. The Democratic field of front-runners have Twitter followers in the 1 million to 10 million range, with Pete Buttigieg (1.1 million), Elizabeth Warren (2.5 million) and Kamala Harris (2.6 million) at the low end, and Bernie Sanders (9.3 million) at the high end. Joe Biden is somewhere in the middle, with 3.5 million. Trump sits at just over 60 million followers. But it’s not just about quantity.
Authenticity is going to be an enormous component to successful combat.