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President Trump Has Lost His Twitter Mojo

In commemoration of President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office, the digital metrics firm Huge (whose name is certainly convenient here) has conducted a satisfyingly deep analysis of his tweets. They found that Trump’s Twitter performance has been less Apple and more Under Armour—over the last three months, it’s taken a beating.

According to Huge’s data, Trump has been tweeting less frequently—not surprising, given how challenging his new job is. But much more tellingly, his number of likes, responses, and retweets has dropped by 66% over the last three months.

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As Twitter regulars well know, retweets do not equal endorsements, so one explanation for the decline would be, in Huge’s words, that “opponents of the President or his policies may be flagging in their opposition efforts and engaging less frequently.”

(It seems important to offer a sidebar here—Twitter engagement is not the same as political action.)

But in fact, it’s Trump’s ‘likes,’ which can be safely read as expressions of support, which have declined the most sharply. They now make up 64% of engagements, down from 77% three months ago, and Trump’s total number of likes per Tweet is down a whopping 72%.

To help explain the decline, Huge analyzed the content of Trump’s tweets, dividing them into “agitated,” “calm,” and “prepared.” They found that while 44% of his tweets were “agitated” in February, only 24% were by April. Trump’s supporters, it seems, like his tweets most when they’re angry. (A less formal review suggests his excoriations of the media have generated particularly large amounts of positive feedback.)

But that doesn’t mean that Trump himself has calmed down all that much. After cross-indexing content to tweet time and location (we told you this was deep), Huge found that most of the “agitated” tweets were posted on weekends and early mornings, while the calmer tweets were posted during the day Monday through Friday. Huge infers that this could indicate a “tug of war” between the President and staffers trying to moderate his communication strategy, of which there have been plenty of indications already.

The Huge team have a smart explanation for why staffers might be sending tweets that dilute Trump’s fiery brand and suppress his Twitter impact. Unable to actually stop him from firing off unsettling missives, they may be intentionally trying to “turn down the volume” on his Twitter presence to reduce the need for constant damage control.

That might be giving Trump’s communication staff a little too much credit. On the other hand, it wouldn’t be out of character for a White House frequently defined by infighting at all levels.