As Election Nears, Swing Voters Don't Want to Hear Donald Trump's Greatest Hits Anymore | Analysis

The microphones were muted in the final presidential TV debate so that the two candidates didn't interrupt each other and relive the horrors of the first episode.

It was a wise move that meant President Donald Trump behaved—for a while at least—in the manner of a normal politician and actually answered questions. It didn't last, of course.

But the fact is that, as we edge into the final days of the campaign, he has been increasingly muted anyway.

Like an old rock star who once had the ability to shock, Trump is still putting out all the old hits, but there's a sense that the voters are increasingly deaf to the messages.

Trump even wheeled out his British tribute act, Nigel Farage, to toot his own cover versions, but the performance is now appreciated only by those who are solidly in the fanbase anyway.

It just doesn't reach the swing voters in the way it used to—and that's proving very damaging to his rapidly-diminishing prospects.

At least that's the vibe from our weekly review of social media sentiment, carried out by Impact Social, with a tracker of social media sentiment of 40,000 swing voters.

The tracker measures two sets of conversations—where Biden is the subject and where Trump is. It tracks the topics which surround them and the sentiment, positive or negative.

Throughout these measurements, it's consistently been the case that most conversations are triggered by Trump, either in a positive sense or in the manner of 'what's he done now?'

But in these concluding weeks of the campaign, his ability to trigger debates seems to have left him. He is no longer creating the political weather, for good or ill, in the way he has done for the last four years.

Instead, these past two weeks Trump has talked about Hunter Biden's business affairs, whether Joe Biden could remember the president's name, and his recent triumph of appointing conservative Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

It all felt strangely reactive. Like there was nothing new to see or hear.

When he took all that on the road, the crowds in the rallies lapped it up, creating great little segments for TV news. But on social media, people weren't impressed.

Quite the reverse, in fact, and the Trump sentiment rating on the social platforms fell from a disastrous -18 percent to a catastrophic -22 percent. Not exactly great numbers for an incumbent president with days left to turn it around.

Meanwhile, Biden—forgetfulness, unhelpful son, and all—continues to ride easy.

By playing the straight man to Trump's outrage he has, rather quietly for a candidate in a two-horse race, built a commanding lead amongst floating voters on social media, rising this last week by 6 points to +20 percent.

social media swing voter election trump biden
A sentiment tracker of swing voters' social media conversations about Trump and Biden with major news events plotted on the timeline. Impact Social

There's not much sense that Biden has sweated to earn this with a bold vision of a Bright New America. It's more that people are tired of Trump's brand of politics and Biden's steadier hand seems more appealing.

So for all the (small) numbers of social conversations discussing Biden's commitment to healthcare, his willingness to tax the rich, and his climate change concern, it was his persona and the kindlier, less aggressive paternalism of his approach that built the positive numbers.

Over 80 percent of the conversations were generalist in the extreme—'pro-Biden,' 'anti-Trump,' 'vote Biden,' 'Biden will win,' and so on. For all the angst Biden tries to create over COVID-19 and the economy, people heard his approach and manner, not the policy.

For Trump, the conversations gave the sense of a man on a greatest hits tour. Putting out all the old favorites to the enthusiastic backing of the crowds at the front, but with the whole schtick just becoming much thinner.

All the familiar singalongs were there, but those drawn to Trump chatter online preferred the new stuff—COVID-19 (15 percent of the Trump conversations) and corruption in the White House (14 percent).

Neither do him any favors and both align with the 46 percent of conversations that were simple anti-Trump messages. Not even the Supreme Court nominee punched through.

Unlike the last election, the polls and the social media numbers are both showing well for Biden and it's going to take a monumental turnaround from here for Trump, especially with millions of votes already cast.

Trump has consistently called into doubt the voting system as we get closer to the result. Undermining the process rather than the rival seems his gambit now.

But the man who found new ways to shock the world during his presidency must now find the biggest shock of all.

Donald Trump Joe Biden 2020 Election
This combination of pictures created on October 22, 2020 shows US President Donald Trump (L) and Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22, 2020. MORRY GASH,JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

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