Musk, who has millions of Twitter followers, just organized a poll with surprising results on his involvement in politics.
Elon Musk likes to get on his critics’ nerves. But in recent months he’s instead been abrading the nerves of Tesla (TSLA) – Get Free Report shareholders.
The electric-vehicle manufacturer’s chief executive has become an influential figure in politics and geopolitical affairs. That influence increased when he completed the $44 billion acquisition of Twitter on Oct. 27.
The platform, which he calls the town square of our time, is where opinion makers and trendsetters meet. He’s a member of both those groups.
The Techno King, as he’s known within Tesla, has also decided to make Twitter the place of expression for conservatives, who criticized Twitter 1.0 for muzzling them and favoring the progressives.
Seeming to share these criticisms, the entrepreneur, who calls himself a free-speech absolutist, reactivated most of the accounts of conservatives who had been suspended because they violated the social network’s content policies.
Musk Goes After Progressives and Dr. Fauci
Musk does regularly denounce the symbols of progressive ideology like wokeism, pronouns and ESG — environmental, social and corporate governance — activism..
He campaigned for the Republicans: In November he urged voters to back the GOP candidates to create what he described as a balance of power in Washington, which at the time leaned in favor of the Democrats.
Musk has also stepped up attacks on elected Democrats. And he orchestrated the publication of what he calls the Twitter Files, which he says contain revelations showing collusion between the platform’s leaders and Joe Biden’s campaign during the 2020 presidential election.
The Twitter Files also presented him with an opportunity to attack Anthony Fauci, the immunologist who has been the face of the American response to the covid-19 pandemic. Musk, an opponent of covid-mandates, wants to remove Fauci from the discussion.
Critics Call on Musk to Quit Politics, Focus on Tesla
The problem with all this political activism is that it hampers Tesla, which since last year has been living through stock-market hell. Tesla shares last year lost two-thirds (65%) of their market value, and the rout has continued into 2023. In three trading sessions this year, Tesla stock has lost another 10% of its value.
“In the past year, we have seen Tesla’s brand lose equity across every brand value, from foundational safety to refinement,” said Alexander Edwards, president of the San Diego consulting firm Strategic Vision.
“These problems are magnified in that battery electric vehicles are more often purchased by self-identified Democrats who have generally opposed Musk’s actions with Twitter. It will become more difficult to sell Tesla vehicles as the narrative of Twitter makes the vehicles seem less fun and alienates the primary buyer.”
Sharing this view, some of Tesla’s most vocal shareholders, such as Gary Black and Ross Gerber, have publicly called on Musk to get out of politics and focus on the automaker, particularly at a time when the economy could plunge into recession.
While Musk has said he’d be stepping down as CEO of Twitter, the tech mogul hasn’t given up on his tweets about politics.
He has just organized a poll in which he asked platform users if he should stop getting involved in politics or keep shooting himself in the foot, which is a metaphor for whether he should continue to tick off a significant portion of Tesla’s customer base.
The result is clear: 57.2% of voters (more than 5 to 4) answered option 2, while 42.8% of voters said he should continue to interfere in political affairs.
Nearly 600,000 social network users voted. What’s interesting is that Musk didn’t commit to respect the results of this poll. In the past, with other important decisions, he has specifically said he would.
The question is whether the billionaire wanted to test the waters, to see whether Twitter users were reveling in Tesla’s stock-market woes — to which his personal fortune is tied — or whether many people really believe that he should no longer dabble in politics.
The entrepreneur preferred to use humor to comment on the results of the poll.
“Ouch my feet!!” Musk commented.
A few hours later, he then recalled that in April 2013 he had pledged not to meddle in politics, a promise he could not keep. The billionaire now seems to be telling his detractors, analysts and Tesla shareholders that try as he might, he just can’t help but talk politics.
So no one should count on him to stop posting political tweets.
“Some habits are hard to break lol,” Musk tweeted. “Maybe I should just get bulletproof shoes …”