It’s no coincidence that the person who leads the Republican presidential field (and has led the Republican field essentially without pause since July) is also a person who is, in his own right, a celebrity. First-time candidate Donald Trump didn’t face the name-recognition hurdle that most first-time candidates must tackle. People knew Trump long before that: Knew his television shows. Knew his books. People who were 10 when “The Art of the Deal” was released have been voting for 21 years.
Or maybe those people followed him on Twitter. At the time of his announcement, Trump already had millions of followers on Twitter; millions of people who were subscribed to the weirdest newswire in American history. Any thought Trump had — and has —- he shares. It’s integral to his not-beholden-to-anyone campaign strategy. Every time he tweets, hundreds reply in the hopes that he’ll retweet them — which he occasionally does. It’s Team Trump, a little Twitter club that reinforces his independence and his fans’ affection.
The extent to which the Internet is powering this year’s outsider candidacies (the other prominent one being Bernie Sanders’s) is the subject of two thoughtful explorations this week, one at the New Yorker and one on Twitter.