Brad Parscale was far from the most prominent member of the Trump campaign in 2016, but he may have been the most effective.
In among personalities like Corey Lewandowski, Steve Bannon, and Kellyanne Conway, Parscale’s profile was practically invisible. But behind the scenes, he was working to develop one of the most powerful digital campaign apparatuses in political history – an apparatus that Trump used to blanket social media with ads and targeting that put even President Obama’s unprecedented internet campaign structure to shame. When it was announced that Parscale would take over Trump’s reelection campaign, it seemed only fitting.
Unfortunately, it appears that things did not work out quite so well with Parscale at the top. After weeks of rumors about Trump’s displeasure with his campaign chief’s competence, the president pulled the plug on Wednesday, demoting Parscale back to his previous digital advertising role and promoting deputy campaign manager Bill Stepien to the top spot.
Fox News reported that some inside the campaign were “shocked” by the move, but others said they expected a shift in the wake of troubling polls.
“Speculation has swirled for weeks about Parscale’s future, as Trump has fallen behind Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden by double digits in multiple polls, and as the campaign struggled to fill seats for the president’s rally last month in Tulsa, Okla,” reported Fox. “A source familiar with the situation said that Parscale indeed had been losing influence as of late with other campaign officials exerting more power, including Stepien, who joined the campaign in May as deputy campaign manager after serving as a political director at the White House.”
One Republican strategist said that the move made sense and was long overdue.
“Brad is the best in the business when it comes to data, but he’s not a political operative,” the strategist told Fox News. “Stepien is one of the best political operatives in the country and innately understands data and field and its integration and how to use that to move votes.”
Let’s hope that’s true. It’s clear at this point that between the coronavirus, the recession, and the Black Lives Matter chaos in the streets, this isn’t going to be a clean repeat of 2016. Trump is going to have to find a new way to campaign that doesn’t necessarily involve crisscrossing the country to hold those energetic rallies that served him so well in the race against Hillary. Hopefully, Stepien understands that defeating Biden will require a different playbook from the one the president has been running so far.
Hopefully…because this is not an election we can afford to lose.