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Trump struggling for attention, data shows, despite tweets and phone-ins

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In the battle for ratings, Fox News is usually is keen to push its exclusive interviews with the President Trump as he takes time from his schedule to talk to its hosts.

But on Fox’s “Sunday Morning” breakfast show this week, anchor Maria Bartiromo had trouble getting the president to hang up the phone.

At least five times Bartiromo tried to end the interview and cut to an ad break, while the president railed against familiar targets like former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper (a “dummy”), the news media, and the “deep state.”

You can watch the end of the interview, posted by Vox writer Aaron Rupar, here:

For the first time since he became president, Trump appears to be chasing the news media more than it is chasing him — especially as his rivals for the presidency in 2020 eat up airtime with their early campaigns.

Search data also appears to show that the public too is tuning out of Trump.

In recent weeks the president has stepped up his media appearances. On Fox, his favored network, Trump has given interviews three times in the past week alone.

And on Wednesday morning he unleashed a tweetstorm of more than sixty messages, a mixture of his own attacks on the Russia probe, and retweets of supportive messages from other users.

But, despite an increase in the kind of behavior that has gotten Trump attention before, the decline in his ability to captivate seems set.

Trump greets Fox talk show host Sean Hannity at a rally in Cape Girardeau, Missouri on November 5, 2018.
JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

Figures from Google search results and TV ratings show that public interest in the notoriously ratings-obsessed Trump is on a downward trend.

“Trump has dominated all of the media for several years, so maybe there is a sense of him starting to outstay his welcome, in terms of people paying attention to him,” Tobe Berkovitz, a Boston University professor and expert in political communications told The Hill in April.

Public Google trend data also shows steadily declining interest in the president since he took power.

This graph below shows search intensity for the word “Trump.” The chart begins one months after Trump’s inauguration, which saw a dramatic spike.

Since then it has been on a downward track, with spikes during key controversies, including his sacking of FBI director James Comey in May 2017, and the government shutdown in late 2018.

Early April saw interest in Trump dip to an all-time-low, around a third of the level in February 2017. It has stayed around that point since.

This Google trends graph shows that searches for the president have reached an all-time low
Google

Data also shows that Trump’s capacity to grab attention on Twitter may also in decline.

Data for Trump’s “interaction rate” — how likely users are to like, retweet, or reply to his posts — dropped to 0.21% in the last year, according to data crunched by Australia’s ABC News.

The figure is less than half the 0.51% he commanded around the time he won the 2016 election.

The waning interest in Trump creates an opportunity for Democratic rivals of Trump to steal some of the limelight from the president as they begin their 2020 campaigns.

In ABC’s Twitter interaction rankings, Democrats far outstripped Trump’s interaction rate, with Pete Buttigieg getting 3.74%, Joe Biden 2.58% and Kamala Harris 0.52%.

A series of high-profile 2020 announcements have garnered significant airtime and attention, prompting Trump to start complaining about Fox News hosting too many Democrat candidates on its shows.

Experts say, though, that despite the lull, Trump’s media profile still far exceeds that of his rivals.

Trump’s name was the tenth most popular keyword on Google globally last year, according to keyword research tool Ahrefs— and was the only political figure to feature on the list.

“You have a president who is going to be live tweeting the opposite party’s primary — you better believe when anything happens in the Democratic race, he will have a comment.

“He will advance a meme like this and Democrats are going to have to figure out how to deal with it,” said Obama’s strategist David Axelrod in a CNN interview in April.

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