How TikTok Could Decide The 2024 Election

In the 2024 presidential election, TikTok, a Chinese-owned app, is poised to play a crucial role in engaging voters, especially younger demographics. Both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump have embraced the platform despite previous calls for its ban, underscoring its significance in modern political campaigning.

How TikTok Could Decide The 2024 Election 1

The most contentious yet widely used social networking site is likely to play a significant role in this year’s presidential election.

Presumptive Democratic and Republican nominees are indicating that TikTok, an app owned by China, will be essential to reaching voters, particularly younger ones, in the run-up to the November elections, despite the platform receiving harsh condemnation from both political parties.

Despite calling for a ban on TikTok, both former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden still have accounts on the nation’s fastest-growing social media network. Trump, who previously attempted to use an executive order to outlaw TikTok in the United States, opened his account on Saturday night with a 13-second video in which UFC President Dana White said, “The president is now on TikTok.”

The former president gained more than 2 million app followers in less than a day. He had five million followers as of Tuesday morning. More than 78 million people have seen his only post on the website.

“For better or worse, 2024 will be the TikTok election,” James Haggerty, president and CEO of strategic communications firm PRCG, stated. “It may be banned in 2025, but for the 2024 election TikTok ain’t going nowhere.”

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Former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden. Both have TikTok accounts, despite being critical of the app’s Chinese ownership, underscoring the importance of the platform in the 2024 election. SETH WENIG/CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY IMAGES

There are other presidential contenders than Trump who have changed their minds on TikTok. After avoiding the contentious app for months due to worries about national security and privacy arising from TikTok’s Chinese ownership, the Biden campaign eventually went in and signed up, sharing its first TikTok during this year’s Super Bowl with the message “lol hey guys”.

The Biden reelection campaign stated that it intends to continue using the app until Election Day, even though Biden signed a bill in April that would prohibit TikTok nationwide if its parent firm, ByteDance, based in Beijing, doesn’t sell it by January 2025.

The Biden team released a statement saying, “A fragmented media environment requires us to show up and meet voters where they are—and that includes online.” “TikTok is one of many places we’re making sure our content is being seen by voters.”

In response, the Biden campaign stated that it has “built a deep bench of trusted messengers across social media platforms which dates back to 2020…and is continuing to grow now” and that it has “a robust operation to reach young voters and move them to the polls.”

Following his weekend addition to TikTok, the presumed GOP nominee was also defended by the Trump team, which issued the following statement: “We will leave no front undefended and this represents the continued outreach to a younger audience consuming pro-Trump and anti-Biden content.”

While both candidates have attacked TikTok and its founders, political strategist Jay Townsend told that it’s evident both campaigns have concluded that the app is essential for reaching young people.

“Both candidates feel compelled to speak to younger voters, which means that both camps are nervous about the younger demographic that has come of age the last eight years,” Townsend said. “As a group, they are far more independent than their elders, more likely to be unaffiliated with either party, disengaged, and up for grabs. In politics, you have to meet your voters where they are.”

In the United States, TikTok had 150 million active users as of March 21. However, its user base also exhibits a stark generational divide. According to a January Pew Research Center survey, 62 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 29 use TikTok, while only 10 percent of people 65 and older do. There are reportedly 243 million Facebook accounts in the US.

According to a survey conducted by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), Gen Z youth alone will account for over 40 million potential voters and over one-fifth of the American electorate in 2024. According to a poll done between October 25 and November 2, 57 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 34 say they are “extremely likely” to vote in the presidential election this year, yet only 19 percent had heard from campaigns or political parties.

According to the CIRCLE survey, 51% of young voters were extremely likely to support the Democratic candidate, while only 30% were extremely likely to support the Republican candidate. However, new surveys suggest that Trump is starting to gain support from this demographic.

In April, the Harvard Youth Poll for Spring 2024 revealed that among voters under 30, Biden was ahead of Trump by a considerably more tight eight points, 45 percent to 37 percent. With 33 points against just 6 points among young males, Biden leads by a significantly greater margin among young women. Additionally, the Democrat does better with non-White voters under 30, outperforming White voters in the same age category by 43 points to just 3 points.

“The Trump and Biden campaigns are both trying to figure out how to use TikTok effectively to peel off just enough of those younger voters who will be critical to putting them over the top,” Haggerty said. “Not that easy to do considering their candidates were both born before even television was common in U.S. homes.”

For two other important voting categories in this year’s election, TikTok is also a well-liked platform. Compared to 39 percent of Black people, 29 percent of Asian adults, and 28 percent of White adults, nearly half of Hispanic adults report using TikTok. Additionally, women use the platform at rates that are 40% to 25% greater than those of men.

Latinos have increased by 3.9 million since the 2020 presidential election, making them the second-fastest growing racial and ethnic group in the U.S. electorate. The importance of female voters has been underscored by restrictions on reproductive rights and the ensuing abortion referendums.

“There is a new kid on the block that was not around four years ago,” Townsend said of TikTok.

Even if TikTok is expected to be more involved in this election than in previous ones, its growth might point to something different. As an associate professor of digital media and politics at George Washington University, Dave Karpf said that TikTok’s growing popularity “mostly signals the continual decline of the other platforms.”

“TikTok is filling the social media hole left by ex-Twitter,” Karpf said, adding that there are bigger factors that shake up the presidential race.

“I do not expect that either campaign’s use of TikTok will have much impact on the eventual election outcome,” he predicted. “Donald Trump’s sentencing will be just four days before this year’s Republican National Convention. That’s unprecedented. The sheer fact of his conviction on 34 felony counts is going to be more impactful than any video clips his campaign decides to post to social media.”

Recently, GreatGameIndia reported that a New York Times story revealed how Israel funded a covert influence campaign targeting US lawmakers using the Tel Aviv-based political marketing firm Stoic.

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