Trump rallies are the centrifugal force driving his campaign. And the campaign has weaponized them to hoover up maximum attendee data.

  • "Axios on HBO" looked inside the campaign's systematic efforts to gather as much information as possible about attendees — information they hope will supercharge the Trump re-election bid.

Here's how it works: Trump's team has designed the sign-up process — and key parts of the rally buildup — to suck a maximum of information from the people attending. Cellphone numbers are their most prized assets.

  • The data pitches are beamed from Trump surrogates on the screens outside the venues, from a well-rehearsed warm-up speech by campaign manager Brad Parscale, and from the omnipresent MAGA merchandise stalls inside the rally.

Why it matters: Sources in the Trump camp say they hope to cash in on the base-first strategy that put their candidate in the White House back in 2016. For that to work, they need to know everything about their base. And these rallies may make that possible.

The big picture: The affection between the Trump campaign team and the thousands of people who flock to his rallies is mutual — and strong. In fact, impromptu campsites also spring up around the rallies, as our film crew documented last month in freezing conditions in Manchester, New Hampshire.

And Manchester is no fluke. Trump supporters have also literally pitched their tents for overnight stays before rallies around the country:

"I did it once — it's addictive," one of the frozen MAGA campers told "Axios on HBO." "It's like, I've gotta do another one. Because I've never had the opportunity to express such love. Everybody's in love here."

Team Trump is in love, too.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 33,867,247 — Total deaths: 1,012,341 — Total recoveries: 23,537,059Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8 p.m. ET: 7,229,319 — Total deaths: 206,887 — Total recoveries: 2,840,688 — Total tests: 103,939,667Map.
  3. Education: School-aged children now make up 10% of all U.S COVID-19 cases.
  4. Health: The coronavirus' alarming impact on the body.
  5. Business: Real-time data show economy's rebound slowing but still going.
  6. Sports: Steelers-Titans NFL game delayed after coronavirus outbreak.
Ina Fried, author of Login
3 hours ago - Technology

Facebook removes Trump ads tying refugees to COVID-19

Photo Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Facebook said Wednesday that it was removing a series of ads from President Trump's campaign that linked American acceptance of refugees with increased coronavirus risk, a connection Facebook says is without merit.

Why it matters: The ads were pulled after they received thousands of impressions and are a sign that the Trump campaign continues to test the limits of social media rules on false information.

Over 73 million people watched the first debate on TV

Data: Nielsen; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

More than 73.1 million people watched the first presidential debate on television on Tuesday night, according to Nielsen ratings.

Why it matters: While that's a sizable audience for any American TV program, it's down more than 13% from the record number of TV viewers who tuned in for the first debate of the 2016 election. The chaotic nature of the debate and the overall uncertainty around this year's election may have pushed some viewers away.