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Despite a myriad of policy defeats, deep divisions within his own party, and a seemingly interminable DOJ investigation into the 2016 election that continues to make headlines, at least one Democrat thinks President Trump is actually winning his 2020 re-election battle by investing heavily online early in the cycle.

And it’s hard to argue with her logic.

In The Hill, former Priorities USA digital strategist Tara McGowan points to several key indicators that Trump not only understands the importance of digital organizing, but is putting his money where his mouth is:

His campaign manager is a “digital guy”

By elevating Brad Parscale (his 2016 Digital Director) to Campaign Manager, Trump is signaling that digital won’t just have a seat at the table — it will be an integral piece of every aspect of his reelection bid…

Building massive lists through digital investments

For months (even before the 2018 midterm elections), Donald Trump’s campaign has consistently been a top political spender on Facebook focused on acquiring voter data and building potential supporter lists. Over the past few weeks, for example, Trump’s campaign spent a combined $778,000 on Facebook ads alone

Defining the narrative

Trump’s campaign has excelled at leveraging digital ad dollars to keep the controversies surrounding the Trump administration from reaching his supporter base online. Take the border wall and shutdown debate: In the days leading up to Trump’s primetime address this month, his campaign purchased the YouTube masthead ad space to drive their message.

While it’s hard to imagine Donald Trump cruising to a second term, there are significant structural advantages to running for President as the President, and McGowan is right that every 2020 campaign should be designing their strategy with digital at the forefront.

She goes on to suggest:

Democrats need to recognize that people increasingly live most every aspect of their lives — from the people they talk to, to the media they consume — online. So every aspect of a campaign must meet voters online as well as off.

Democrats must center their campaigns around digital talent and strategies. The investment in digital advertising can’t be an add-on to television budgets, but must be at parity with them.

Organizations also must see digital not simply as a way to raise money, but as a strategy to build networks of organizers and supporters who will amplify their messages and reach voters through the people they trust and listen to. That is how a campaign will build a movement that will carry them to victory.

Of course, these are the same recommendations that savvy digital operatives have been making for years, which have too often fallen on deaf ears.

It’s refreshing to see senior strategists on both sides of the aisle finally start to embrace them.

 

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