Trump quickly surpasses the Biden campaign on TikTok

by Admin
Trump quickly surpasses the Biden campaign on TikTok

In less than three days, Donald Trump’s TikTok account has far outpaced the Biden campaign’s — an early indication of the strength of the former president’s brand on the Gen Z-tailored social media platform.

Trump’s TikTok account has achieved almost 5 million followers and 5.2 million likes, compared with the Biden campaign’s roughly 355,000 followers and 4.6 million likes.

Trump debuted his TikTok account Saturday night with a video highlighting his attendance at the UFC 302, an MMA pay-per-view event in Newark, New Jersey. Within a day, the page had surpassed the Biden campaign’s account in followers, and by Monday morning had accumulated a following more than 10 times the size of the Biden campaign’s.

Trump’s debut post notched a staggering 63 million views — six times the viewership of the Biden campaign’s debut post, which was first posted four months ago to coincide with the Super Bowl and featured President Joe Biden himself answering football-themed questions.

Trump’s embrace of TikTok could aid his campaign in its efforts to win over portions of the younger, Generation Z voters who data suggests may be souring on Biden.

The former president’s re-election campaign has already pointed to his sizable debut on the platform as evidence of him siphoning off younger voters from Biden, who won 60% of voters under 30 in 2020 according to NBC News exit polling data.

A spokesman for the Trump campaign called the former president’s popularity on the app “a testament to the rise in support and momentum for President Trump taking place across the country right now.”

“Team Trump will leave no front undefended and President Trump’s viral TikTok account is another step in our continued outreach to the American people, especially young voters, who he has significantly gained ground with against Crooked Joe Biden,” Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said.

Harry Sisson, a pro-Biden TikTok creator and a self-described “Gen Z activist” with almost a million followers, downplayed the significance of Trump’s following, pointing out the differing natures of the Trump and Biden accounts.

“Trump’s using the [username] that everybody knows from different social media platforms, the realDonaldTrump, whereas @BidenHQ is something that not a lot of Americans know,” Sisson said. “If Biden were to make a personal account where Biden himself is posting content, now it’d be a different story.”

While Biden has personal social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, he does not have a personal page on TikTok, rather utilizing his campaign’s BidenHQ account to release content on the app.

At the time of the Biden campaign’s TikTok launch, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters that the administration still had “national security concerns” about the use of TikTok.

Sisson also shot down the idea that Trump’s large TikTok following suggests he’ll have better luck winning over younger, Gen Z voters this November, speculating that much of the former president’s 4.5 million followers are already die-hard fans.

“These are not, you know, your swing voter in Pennsylvania who’s worried about their reproductive rights or the college kid in Wisconsin who wants to know what the government is going to do about their loans,” he said.

But even before joining TikTok, Trump has had something of an upper hand on the platform. The New York Times recently reported that an internal analysis within TikTok “found nearly twice as many pro-Trump posts as pro-Biden ones on the platform since November.”

TikTok did not return a request for comment.

Trump’s embrace of TikTok five months out from the election marks a sharp turn for the former president, who was not just a vociferous critic of the platform, but also attempted to ban the app during his first term.

Three months before the 2020 election, as young voters mobilized on the platform in favor of Biden, Trump issued an executive order that would have banned TikTok in the United States, citing national security concerns, an effort that was ultimately stymied by the courts.

But four years later, Trump emerged as a chief critic of Biden as he prepared to sign similar legislation that could potentially lead to a U.S. ban of the app, posting on Truth Social in April that young voters should “remember” that “Crooked Joe Biden is responsible for banning TikTok” and that he’s “doing it to help his friends over at Facebook become richer and more dominant.”

Trump has had a tumultuous history on mainstream social media platforms. In January 2021, he was suspended from Facebook and Twitter (now X) following his posts that preceded the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Following the actions on his accounts, Trump almost exclusively used his own social media platform, Truth Social, to post content.

But in the last two years, Trump has been allowed back on the platforms. In the run-up to November’s election, Trump has resumed regularly posting to Facebook. He has only posted once on X after being reinstated.

Recent data makes clear Trump’s incentive for joining TikTok. As many as 11% of all voters in a NBC News poll released earlier this year, who were between the ages of 18-34, said they use TikTok at least once a day. Though that cohort disproportionately identified as Democratic (47% identified as Democrats to 30% Republicans), in a hypothetical general election matchup, those Democratic-leaning young voters narrowly broke for Trump over Biden, 44% to 42%.

The Biden campaign had sought to beat back that trend in part by beefing up its presence on the app. Since the launch of the page in February, the campaign has posted more than 200 videos, several featuring both Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris speaking directly to the camera.

Prior to Trump joining the app, the Biden campaign page was among the largest of any associated with the presidential candidates, slightly behind Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s TikTok account, but far outpacing an account launched by a super PAC supporting Trump.

Trump’s presence on the app, however, has already influenced the way in which the Biden campaign’s content is received.

A new post by the Biden campaign on its TikTok account amplifying a claim by a former producer on “The Apprentice” alleging that Trump once used a racial slur to refer to a Black contestant has amassed more than 1.2 million views in less than 12 hours, becoming the campaign’s most viewed TikTok post in more than a month.

But many of the comments under the post are numerical figures “3.2M,” “3.5M” and “3.7M” as supporters of Trump highlight the number of followers to his TikTok account ticking up.

According to TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, the app has 170 million active users in the U.S. and their average age is over 30.

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