As 2020 Campaigns Launch, Here’s How Trump Has Changed the Game

Donald Trump has shown that he’s perfectly willing to break political rules and carve his own path. For the most part, this strategy has proven successful. So while they may not admit it, candidates on both sides of the party line will spend the next few years replicating his techniques.

The Trump Effect: Campaigning and More

Few politicians or political insiders want to admit that President Trump is anything but lucky. Establishment Republicans don’t like the fact that he was able to infiltrate the party and spark a movement that didn’t fit their historical model for candidacy. Democrats not only disdain his method of rising to power, but also the message he preaches. The media, who receives stiff lashings from Trump on a regular basis, is naturally an adversary as well.

However, in their quietest moments of privacy, even the haters -- of which there are many -- can’t ignore the fact that he came onto the political stage in the summer of 2015 and fundamentally turned modern politics on its head. And while we could investigate numerous issues and practices that President 45 has fractured and rearranged, now’s the perfect time to focus on the issue of political campaigning -- something that the Trump team used to spark a massive wave of support that ultimately carried him to the shores of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Here we are in the first few weeks of 2019, and we’re only months away from a new set of campaigns, debates, and rallies. The 2020 election season will be upon us before we have time to blink and, if you look closely enough, you’ll notice that campaigns on both the left and right will be pulling techniques and methods from what the Trump team did just a few short years ago.

Here are some specific shifts to keep an eye on:

  1. Down With Party Unity

Donald Trump has downplayed the notion that party unity is essential to campaign success. No candidate in history has been more divisive or confrontational. He had controversial nicknames for all of his opponents and wasn’t afraid to call out the Republican Party when he felt that they were out of touch.

While political insiders will still follow the rules, per se, look for some of the fringe 2020 candidates to follow the Trump prescription of candidate over party. Whether it can work again remains to be seen.

  1. Paid Media Optional

When it was all said and done, Hillary Clinton raised $1.4 billion for her campaign. Donald Trump’s team brought in $957 million. On paper, that’s a huge mismatch. But it was how the money was spent that ultimately swung the pendulum into Trump’s favor.

“Trump refused to spend the money required to buy TV and radio time at a level that matched his opponent Hillary Clinton,” CNN’s Michael D’Antonio writes. “Saturation of the airwaves has long been a staple of campaigns. Trump, who prefers social media platforms like Twitter, decided to go directly to his supporters on platforms that cost him nothing.”

Trump was able to show that, for the first time in dozens of election cycles, grassroots-style campaigning still works on a large-scale basis. Sure, he had close to a billion dollars on hand, but with such a significant deficit to the Clinton camp, Trump had to be strategic with how he spent and where he disseminated his message.

In the 2020 campaign season, look for more grassroots campaigning. Social media will obviously play a significant role, but it won’t stop there. Print media could experience a revival of sorts.

“We see plenty of local politicians use flyers and brochures to spread their message,” explains Printing Center USA. “It wouldn’t be a surprise to see national politicians take a more localized approach and canvas key neighborhoods and communities with paper marketing materials that people can hold, touch, and even smell.”

Voters are tired of feeling like they have to go to a big city or turn on the TV to interact with politicians. They want politicians to come to them. Localized, grassroots campaigning makes this happen.

  1. Rallies for the Win

Every presidential campaign has a few images that history will remember it by. Already, the pictures that tell the story of the Trump 2016 campaign are colorful snapshots from his many campaign rallies. It’s believed that he’s held more than 500 since 2015 (many during his presidency) and each is an astonishing and unique melting pot of culture, politics, and adrenaline.

Campaign rallies are nothing new. Candidates have been using them for decades to spark interest and reach the masses, but Trump took his rallies to a totally new level. They weren’t just rallies -- they were boisterous gatherings of thousands who felt like they had a front row seat to an American revolution.

Rachel Gooder of Howard County, Iowa attended one Trump rally and said it left a lasting impression on her.

“He was so easy-going. It was almost like he was talking to us, and not giving a speech,” Gooder told the Washington Examiner. “He would crack some jokes and he was so relaxed. I loved it. Probably one of the best things I've done. It's one of the highlights of my life, just going to that and being a part of it. Watching how people reacted to what he was saying. It gave me shivers. It was just really, really cool.”

Perhaps “really, really cool” is the best way to describe a Trump rally. As opposed to standing still, holding a sign, and politely clapping on cue, Trump rallies consist of jumping, screaming, loud music, and unscripted speeches from a podium that looks like it’s set up for a rock concert, not a political speech.

While career politicians won’t take nearly the same approach in what they say -- lambasting the media, for example, still seems like something most candidates are hesitant to do -- look for many to try and replicate the same emotional high that Trump rallies create. Because if the 2016 election showed us anything, it’s that emotions are often more powerful than substance.

Rewriting the Rulebooks

Donald Trump shattered the natural order that characterized American politics for decades by exuding confidence and dismissing all who told him to act in a more measured manner. In doing so, he proved that it’s possible to be victorious in modern politics without being a career politician and without following a well-rehearsed script.

Some would say Trump’s campaign was inflammatory and over-the-top, but any time his opponents came after him, he doubled down and refused to recoil. And in a world where the average American is tired of seeing public figures apologize to appease virtual mobs and Twitter trolls, it was Trump’s consistency and resolve that ultimately appealed to millions of voters.

Candidate Trump didn’t do everything right, but at the end of a 19-month slog of a campaign, he was able to show that there’s more than one path to the Oval Office. And if the next set of presidential candidates are serious about earning the 2020 nomination, they’ll be forced to account for an entirely new rulebook -- one that was written by a real estate mogul, master marketer, and successful businessman.

Donald Trump has shown that he’s perfectly willing to break political rules and carve his own path. For the most part, this strategy has proven successful. So while they may not admit it, candidates on both sides of the party line will spend the next few years replicating his techniques.

The Trump Effect: Campaigning and More

Few politicians or political insiders want to admit that President Trump is anything but lucky. Establishment Republicans don’t like the fact that he was able to infiltrate the party and spark a movement that didn’t fit their historical model for candidacy. Democrats not only disdain his method of rising to power, but also the message he preaches. The media, who receives stiff lashings from Trump on a regular basis, is naturally an adversary as well.

However, in their quietest moments of privacy, even the haters -- of which there are many -- can’t ignore the fact that he came onto the political stage in the summer of 2015 and fundamentally turned modern politics on its head. And while we could investigate numerous issues and practices that President 45 has fractured and rearranged, now’s the perfect time to focus on the issue of political campaigning -- something that the Trump team used to spark a massive wave of support that ultimately carried him to the shores of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Here we are in the first few weeks of 2019, and we’re only months away from a new set of campaigns, debates, and rallies. The 2020 election season will be upon us before we have time to blink and, if you look closely enough, you’ll notice that campaigns on both the left and right will be pulling techniques and methods from what the Trump team did just a few short years ago.

Here are some specific shifts to keep an eye on:

  1. Down With Party Unity

Donald Trump has downplayed the notion that party unity is essential to campaign success. No candidate in history has been more divisive or confrontational. He had controversial nicknames for all of his opponents and wasn’t afraid to call out the Republican Party when he felt that they were out of touch.

While political insiders will still follow the rules, per se, look for some of the fringe 2020 candidates to follow the Trump prescription of candidate over party. Whether it can work again remains to be seen.

  1. Paid Media Optional

When it was all said and done, Hillary Clinton raised $1.4 billion for her campaign. Donald Trump’s team brought in $957 million. On paper, that’s a huge mismatch. But it was how the money was spent that ultimately swung the pendulum into Trump’s favor.

“Trump refused to spend the money required to buy TV and radio time at a level that matched his opponent Hillary Clinton,” CNN’s Michael D’Antonio writes. “Saturation of the airwaves has long been a staple of campaigns. Trump, who prefers social media platforms like Twitter, decided to go directly to his supporters on platforms that cost him nothing.”

Trump was able to show that, for the first time in dozens of election cycles, grassroots-style campaigning still works on a large-scale basis. Sure, he had close to a billion dollars on hand, but with such a significant deficit to the Clinton camp, Trump had to be strategic with how he spent and where he disseminated his message.

In the 2020 campaign season, look for more grassroots campaigning. Social media will obviously play a significant role, but it won’t stop there. Print media could experience a revival of sorts.

“We see plenty of local politicians use flyers and brochures to spread their message,” explains Printing Center USA. “It wouldn’t be a surprise to see national politicians take a more localized approach and canvas key neighborhoods and communities with paper marketing materials that people can hold, touch, and even smell.”

Voters are tired of feeling like they have to go to a big city or turn on the TV to interact with politicians. They want politicians to come to them. Localized, grassroots campaigning makes this happen.

  1. Rallies for the Win

Every presidential campaign has a few images that history will remember it by. Already, the pictures that tell the story of the Trump 2016 campaign are colorful snapshots from his many campaign rallies. It’s believed that he’s held more than 500 since 2015 (many during his presidency) and each is an astonishing and unique melting pot of culture, politics, and adrenaline.

Campaign rallies are nothing new. Candidates have been using them for decades to spark interest and reach the masses, but Trump took his rallies to a totally new level. They weren’t just rallies -- they were boisterous gatherings of thousands who felt like they had a front row seat to an American revolution.

Rachel Gooder of Howard County, Iowa attended one Trump rally and said it left a lasting impression on her.

“He was so easy-going. It was almost like he was talking to us, and not giving a speech,” Gooder told the Washington Examiner. “He would crack some jokes and he was so relaxed. I loved it. Probably one of the best things I've done. It's one of the highlights of my life, just going to that and being a part of it. Watching how people reacted to what he was saying. It gave me shivers. It was just really, really cool.”

Perhaps “really, really cool” is the best way to describe a Trump rally. As opposed to standing still, holding a sign, and politely clapping on cue, Trump rallies consist of jumping, screaming, loud music, and unscripted speeches from a podium that looks like it’s set up for a rock concert, not a political speech.

While career politicians won’t take nearly the same approach in what they say -- lambasting the media, for example, still seems like something most candidates are hesitant to do -- look for many to try and replicate the same emotional high that Trump rallies create. Because if the 2016 election showed us anything, it’s that emotions are often more powerful than substance.

Rewriting the Rulebooks

Donald Trump shattered the natural order that characterized American politics for decades by exuding confidence and dismissing all who told him to act in a more measured manner. In doing so, he proved that it’s possible to be victorious in modern politics without being a career politician and without following a well-rehearsed script.

Some would say Trump’s campaign was inflammatory and over-the-top, but any time his opponents came after him, he doubled down and refused to recoil. And in a world where the average American is tired of seeing public figures apologize to appease virtual mobs and Twitter trolls, it was Trump’s consistency and resolve that ultimately appealed to millions of voters.

Candidate Trump didn’t do everything right, but at the end of a 19-month slog of a campaign, he was able to show that there’s more than one path to the Oval Office. And if the next set of presidential candidates are serious about earning the 2020 nomination, they’ll be forced to account for an entirely new rulebook -- one that was written by a real estate mogul, master marketer, and successful businessman.