Donald Trump urged his supporters to demonstrate against his impending indictment two weeks ago. How are they reacting now that it has happened?
Online, the news of Trump’s charges spread like wildfire, but it can be challenging to understand all of the conversations that followed.
We can get a better understanding of how this is developing by entering the social media feeds of US voters and joining the online communities that are home to Trump’s most ardent supporters.
The BBC’s “undercover voters”—five fictional characters from various US political parties with social media accounts based on Pew Research data—come into play in this situation.
These five profiles give us an overview of what social media users in the US are viewing, both on popular platforms and in niche communities that are beyond the normal reach of most of us.
Three main themes become apparent after looking for Trump-related content in their feeds.
Trump backers feel “sick to their stomach”
Let’s start with the widely accepted, right-wing demographics.
The majority of the content on the feeds of our right-leaning voters Larry and Britney is pro-Trump.
There are defiant claims about a “witch hunt” and how Democrats have “weaponized the legal system,” echoing the former president.
These tweets come from pro-Trump accounts and Republican politicians, commentators, and others who are using this as a rallying cry for his 2024 presidential bid.
According to some reports, he should be reinstalled in the White House right away, and there are rumors that his supporters are queasy.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who could be Mr. Trump’s biggest Republican opponent if he runs, has largely been overshadowed by news of the indictment.
This also applies to Gabriela, our nonpartisan voter, whose feeds feature him frequently these days.
Instead, she is getting a ton of messages praising Mr. Trump and saying that the indictment is a “unjust” effort to hinder his presidential campaign.
In contrast to Trump’s initial post on Truth Social, which called for protests and predicted his arrest, the posts these accounts are viewing have mostly refrained from making explicit demands to action.
Trust the strategy.
There is a different atmosphere on the platforms like Telegram where Trump’s most ardent supporters congregate.
This is where the vast, unsubstantiated QAnon conspiracy theory flourishes, which claims that the former president is engaged in a covert conflict with powerful, Satan-worshipping pedophiles in the business, government, and media.
As a result, there has been substantial discussion about how the indictment is a component of a so-called “Deep State” scheme.
In these channels, two opposing narratives are developing at once.
The first includes cryptic calls to action, furious and occasionally violent speech directed at the government. Here We Go!! and “Their turn is coming shortly” are among the messages.
Others clarify that they will “see if we’ll stand against this phony government should Trump [be] incarcerated” in reference to bogus accusations that the 2020 election was rigged and Trump was the legitimate winner.
The more severe tweets urge followers to “Kill the Deep State,” although there is no overt indication that there are any rioting plans.
Pro-Trump rallies are being discussed, but the atmosphere doesn’t seem to be similar to that of the US Capitol riots, which were preceded by a social media campaign thick with anti-semitic invective and threats for armed conflict.
The second story going around in these online forums – keep off the streets – may help to partially explain the difference now.
Many people who post on Telegram express concern that they are being targeted by a nefarious plot to act and be arrested. If they can avoid turmoil, they claim there is a larger plan in which Trump will triumph.
Trump has just become the “most prolific political martyr in history,” according to one.
There are smaller, private groups that we cannot see where a very committed few could pose the greater risk, despite the fact that the chatter on the main channels appears to be devoid of specific calls to arms.
Jubilations and reservations
The indictment of Trump is a hot topic on the left as well.
Moments after the news breaks, memes depicting Trump in a prison jumpsuit behind bars rise to the top of the feeds of left-leaning voters.
His impending arrest is being celebrated in posts made against the profiles of Emma and Michael, with several making the comment that “no one is above the law.” But there are also some minor uncertainties.
Given the seriousness of the other investigations Trump is facing, it has been questioned in a number of posts whether he is being charged with the proper offense.
And some claim that the support he is receiving from his supporters and the larger Republican Party could help his presidential bid. There are posts that express concern that the indictment will “backfire” by rallying supporters who might not have been as devoted.
On the left, though, the topic of conversation is not solely Trump. Following the announcement of the indictment, criticism of Ron DeSantis and trans rights begin to surface.