Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios
America is on the edge of the first truly parallel universe presidential campaign—where the parties speak to different groups of voters, in distinct media ecosystems, and push distinct realities.
- Why it’s important: The days of appearing on the same media channels or even the same debate stage seem gone.
Forget traditional debates. Equal time on conventional TV. Or regular reporters pushing candidates from both parties.
- Instead, narrowcasting playbooks which has been tested during this year’s interim period will be used on a large scale.
The result: The right speaks to the right … The left speaks to the left … And the new silent majority – people who don’t marinate in tweets or cable news – left out like never before.
- Debates are a crucial casualty. As we told you yesterday, they have declined in this year’s congressional races. Ahead of 2024, the RNC formally cut ties with the Commission on Presidential Debates after 35 years.
Our thought bubble, from Axio’s Josh Kraushaar: So-called silent majority voters have mostly tuned out political noise — they see it as a partisan kabuki show. They vote on the economy.
- These are the voters which have given both parties a vote of no confidence since 2006 — and have been responsible for Congress swinging back and forth in so many elections since then.
Zoom in: For a ’24 preview, look at this year’s re-election campaign by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), which is being staffed, financed and run as a precursor to a presidential run.
- Former President Trump enjoyed engaging with the mainstream media – even when they criticized it as fake.
- But DeSantis shuns and shuts out most mainstream media, and loves trying to embarrass reporters who press him. Earlier this month, when CNN correspondent Nadia Romero questioned whether there should have been more evacuations in Lee County, where Hurricane Ian made landfall, DeSantis countered: “Where where your industry stationed when the storm hit? Were you in Lee County? No. You were in Tampa.”
Zoom out: It’s not just Florida. Danielle Kurtzleben, an NPR political correspondent, wrote this summer that when she went to Wisconsin to report on how the abortion issue affected the midterms, “the idea was to do a story on the Democrats and one on the Republicans.”
- “I heard back from the Democrats but not the Republicans,” she recalled. “Phone calls, emails, Facebook messages — I didn’t hear back from anybody. The top Republican gubernatorial candidates didn’t publicize any events, though their social media showed they were out talking to voters.”
And it’s not just Republicans. President Biden’s aides, long frustrated by legacy media filters, are increasingly getting around it, NBC’s Mike Memoli wrote last week:
- During a west coast swing this month, “Biden sat down in person with actors Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes and Will Arnett for a conversation that will air … on ‘SmartLess,’ one of the most listened to podcasts. During a trip to the Detroit auto show in September , he spoke [to] Daniel Mac — and his 12 million followers on TikTok.”
The score: Polarized America is about to become even more so.