But even as we stand more than six months into Joe Biden’s administration, the President is fighting for attention with his predecessor, Donald Trump, to a degree not seen in recent history. The impact of this dynamic could upend expectations about the midterm elections.
Part of what is happening is that Trump is getting more cable news mentions than usual for a former president. And Biden, for his part, has had his name uttered on cable news far less than Trump did in July 2017.
The attention Trump has commanded isn’t just a cable news phenomenon. We see an exaggerated version of it in Google trends as well.
Like with cable news mentions, Trump getting searched so much more relative to Biden is partially because Trump is getting searched a lot for a former president and partially because Biden isn’t getting searched anywhere near the levels Trump was during this point in his presidency.
Put another way: Trump matters.
Of course, mattering and helping the Republican Party are two very different things.
The traditional midterm penalty may hold regardless of Trump being in the news so much. He could drop out of the news cycle as we approach November 2022. There’s still a long way to go.
But we honestly don’t know what might happen when the current occupant of the White House is fighting for media attention with the former president — especially, when Trump continues to falsely claim that he won the last election. It could change the turnout dynamic.
We’ll have to keep an eye on these metrics as we approach the midterms. But it seems possible that Trump may continue to make history.
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