Ron DeSantis is launching his 2024 campaign on Twitter Spaces. It's a huge mistake
Only about one in five American adults use Twitter, according to the Pew Research Center.
Even fewer use the website's audio-only chatroom, Twitter Spaces.
So it's unclear why DeSantis chose to launch his bid for president on the deteriorating app.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is set to kick off his presidential campaign Wednesday night on Twitter Spaces. It could be a costly mistake for DeSantis as he begins the uphill climb in an attempt to gain the Republican nomination.
Here are three key reasons why:
Most voters don't use Twitter
The way most American presidential candidates launch their campaign is straightforward: Hold an event, invite TV cameras, and get on television.
DeSantis is, instead, forgoing the traditional strategy, choosing to launch his candidacy on an app most Americans don't even use and using a feature so unknown by even its power users that the New York Times felt compelled to publish on Wednesday titled "DeSantis Picked Twitter Spaces to Announce His Run. What Is It?"
Twitter Spaces lacks visuals
It's critical that presidential candidates, especially at their launches, are made as visible as possible. Yes, gaffes on the trail occasionally happen that can sink campaigns — just ask former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis who mistakenly thought it would be wise to do a photo-op in a tank, torpedoing his campaign. But particularly as he slides further behind former President Donald Trump in most Republican primary polls, DeSantis needs to make himself as visible as possible to draw in skeptics and moderates.
Unless Twitter adds video streaming capabilities to Twitter Spaces just before the launch event — a tall task for a company that's lost the bulk of its engineering force since Elon Musk took over — the event will solely be audio-based.
Twitter Spaces has also had its share of problems since Musk's takeover. In December 2022, the feature wasn't even showing up for users and the platform recently removed its live captions feature from the platform, a feature that would've been helpful for hard-of-hearing listeners (such as potential older voters) who plan to tune in Wednesday evening.
A live event could highlight a lack of charisma
Charisma is important in politics. With enough charm, even a barely-able-to-run 37-year-old mayor from Indiana can gain stardom if they win over enough undecided voters in a town hall, as evidenced by Pete Buttigieg in 2019.
But despite a quick rise to Congress and later the governor's mansion, DeSantis isn't known for being the most personable politician, with some critics suggesting he lacks the retail politics skills needed to succeed on the campaign trail.
Additionally, the people talking with DeSantis at his online launch event — Musk and David Sacks — also pose their own brand risks to DeSantis. Musk, an ideological meme-obsessed oddball, posted antisemitic tweets in recent weeks attacking Hungarian philanthropist George Soros. Under his management of Twitter, the platform lost millions in advertising revenue that it's still trying to recoup.
Sacks, not well-known outside of Silicon Valley and venture capital circles, is perhaps the most media-polished person presenting tonight, thanks to co-hosting a weekly podcast. But counting on him to carry the conversation is still risky in such an unfamiliar political setting.
DeSantis may be hoping to tap into an extremely online base, but winning the Republican nomination likely isn't dependent on "Pepe the frog"-laden accounts. It's much more likely to hinge on convincing caucus-goers in Iowa and senior citizens in New Hampshire, who aren't likely logging into Twitter anytime soon.
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