False Familiarity and Agenda Setting: Trump’s Unique Approach to Twitter in the Presidential Election of 2016

Abstract

In this study, Donald Trump’s tweets were closely examined during the time period of May 5, 2016, the date in which Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee, to November 8, 2016, the United States’ presidential election day, in which he beat his opponent Hillary Clinton and became the 45th president of the United States. Through the specific lenses of the false familiarity theory and the agenda setting theory, these tweets were categorized and examined. The study found that Trump’s use of identity construction of the outsider and simplistic language supports the false familiarity theory and served to create a unique closeness with his base. Additionally, with 25.7% of Trump’s tweets occurring between the hours of midnight and four am, Trump gained authority over the agenda setting power of news mediums. As Trump was able to directly influence news coverage, he was able to not only expand his political outreach, he set the agenda of what issues voters found important in the presidential election of 2016.

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