Could This Political Ad Topple Trump?

A similar ad from LBJ’s campaign during the 1964 election helped him defeat Barry Goldwater – Hillary Clinton’s campaign may be betting the same for the 2016 election.

By Rhonda FanningJuly 18, 2016 4:14 pm

The news during this Republican National Convention is, predictably, much about the Republicans, especially the presumptive nominee Donald Trump. But his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton is doing her best to remain in the minds of voters. A new web ad from Clinton’s campaign recalls a very similar ad from the 1960s.

The 1964 ad featured the same actor making a very similar “confession of a Republican” – that time about Barry Goldwater. This time it’s about Trump. But will it be effective?

Kirby Goidel, a professor and Public Policy Research Institute fellow at Texas A&M University, says this ad is in a context in which many people, Republicans included, have reservations about Trump in the White House.

“The Never Trump movement continues into the convention, which is really unusual in contemporary politics,” he says. “So it’s directed at those Republicans who still have some misgivings. It’s set and situated within the context of the Convention to really hit them at a time when Trump is trying to unite Republicans around the GOP banner.”

This ad isn’t intended for younger voters, Goidel says, because they may not make the connection to the earlier ad. Tallies suggest Clinton’s campaign is outspending Trump’s campaign 15 to 1 and Goidel says Clinton’s campaign has to spend more than Trump’s because of his estimated $2 billion in “free” media coverage.

“Trump is especially good at playing into controversy and making comments that get him picked up,” he says. “On the downside, a lot of his coverage is very negative. You can earn coverage that will offset the spending advantage that someone has, but you can’t guarantee that that coverage is going to be good.”The advertising advantage Clinton’s campaign has over Trump’s might be more of an advantage, Goidel says, if Trump were a traditional candidate.

“We’re more cynical,” he says, “but we’re also more partisan…. It’s very difficult to persuade once they are committed to a particular side. The real benefit of a campaign ad is to go after people who have not yet made a decision.”

Post by Hannah McBride.