Welcome to FWIW, ACRONYM’s weekly newsletter breaking down digital strategy in the 2020 elections. Each week, we look at how campaigns are – or aren’t – leveraging smart digital strategies to drive narratives and reach voters. For what it’s worth, some of it might surprise you.
If you missed last night’s debate, you really didn’t miss much – Trump lied incessantly and tried to make every issue about himself, while Biden did his best to fact-check the president while also laying out his plans for the future. So today’s punditry is featuring a lot of “Trump didn’t make any major improvements with this debate, which is good news for Biden,” but here’s the thing: Trump can still win.
In this week’s FWIW, we look at how the campaigns are already banking votes, Snapchat spending on mobilization ads, and how Trump continues to throw everything at the wall in an attempt to eke out a win.
NEW POD ALERT 🎙
This week, ACRONYM CEO + Founder Tara McGowan sat down with Katie Paris, founder of Red, Wine, and Blue, a grassroots women-led organization mobilizing suburban women in Ohio and beyond to get involved in local politics and issue advocacy in their communities. In this episode, Tara and Katie talk about harnessing the power of suburban women, creating new momentum for suburban women, and channeling it into relational and social organizing suburban communities to GOTV for Biden-Harris. Check it out on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen.
2020, BY THE NUMBERS
Donald Trump’s re-election campaign has spent over $225.1 million on Facebook + Google advertising since the midterm elections. Joe Biden has spent $156.4 million advertising on those same platforms. Here’s how much each campaign spent just last week:
Less than two weeks to go before Election Day, the Trump campaign continues to run the familiar litany of lies and bad-faith attacks to juice up the president’s base as much as possible in their swing states on both Facebook and Google. China, the Supreme Court, and political violence remain dominant themes in the President’s Facebook ads.
FWIW, here are the rest of the top spenders on Facebook last week. (Looks like Lindsay Graham may be a little worried ):
Here’s what last week looked like in terms of Google advertising:
Each week, we’re breaking down Facebook spending in key presidential battleground states. Here’s how much the campaigns and major outside groups spent on ads focused on the presidential race from October 11th to October 17th:
ONE LAST WEEKLY ROUND-UP
Snap out the vote
As Democratic groups and campaigns focus on turning out their base in the final days of the Election, we’ve seen an increase in groups spending and targeting swing state younger voters on the platform. A flood of turnout among Millennials and Gen Zers in the right places has the potential to swamp Trump and elect Democrats up and down the ballot – but that’s only if they turn out.
So far this month the Biden campaign has spent over $420k on the platform, while the Trump campaign spent $0. For their most recent ads, the Biden campaign is targeting 18 to 34-year-olds in AZ, FL, MN, MI, NV, NC, PA, and WI. They’re leaning on content featuring some of Biden’s greatest hits, like his campaign launch speech, and also video of Kamala Harris from the VP debate.
With the exception of Mike Bloomberg, whose campaign spent around $1.3m on Snapchat this year, the Biden campaign is poised to be the largest political ad spender on the platform since the data’s been available.
Other outside groups on the left are jumping on the platform to give Biden a GOTV boost. NextGen, Latino Victory Project, Black PAC, Planned Parenthood Votes, Story Network Foundation, LCV Victory Fund, ACRONYM, PACRONYM, and more are all running Snap ads to mobilize younger voters and voters of color from Miami to Milwaukee. To further underline the GOP’s long-term problem with younger voters, Trump isn’t receiving any such air cover from groups on the Right.
Glad that’s over
Last night, we got a glimpse of what Trump thinks is his best chance at saving his prospects in Pennsylvania and Texas (and Oklahoma, for some reason): domestic fossil fuel energy. On the debate stage, Joe Biden committed to ending fossil fuel subsidies and transitioning away from oil dependency by 2035, two things he’s been running on since he won the nomination.
And, despite Biden’s insistence that he won’t ban fracking, the president’s campaign has been lying and saying that Biden will since at least May. Then, as now, they’re mostly targeting older folks in PA on both YouTube and FB with ads that rail against Biden’s climate-driven energy plan.
That said, the Biden campaign is also using digital ads to talk to voters in PA and elsewhere about his ambitious clean energy plan. In their ads, they’re targeting young voters in battleground states, but mostly in PA, about how consistently Trump has blocked action on climate change and how Biden plans on getting our country to net-zero by 2035.
And speaking of reaching young voters…
This week, the Biden campaign started using a new tactic to reach young voters through their FB ads: BuzzFeed. Through BuzzFeed’s FB page, Biden for President is running ads targeting young folks in battleground states like AZ, PA, MI, NC, NV, and WI featuring perfectly innocuous quizzes like the ones below. The quizzes themselves are hyperlocal while also educating young folks about young voters in the state.
We should note, though, that the Biden campaign isn’t the only group advertising through BuzzFeed – our friends at NextGen America have also started using the page to target young folks in swing states with pro-Biden ads.
Always be banking votes
GOTV is typically the short time period before Election Day where campaigns turn out in full force to knock doors and physically get their supporters out to the polls. However this year, with increased access to vote by mail, campaigns have been chasing ballots and banking votes for weeks. In fact, over 50 MILLION voters have already voted – an unprecedented amount 10 days out from Election Day.
To that end, both Trump and Biden have been using paid advertising on Facebook, Google, and elsewhere to urge their swing-state supporters to request or return their mail-in ballots, in addition to serving them messages to find their polling place for in-person early voting or Election Day.
BEFORE YOU GO…
That’s it for FWIW this week! Before you go, we have one more ask of you. As the general election heats up, it’s more important than ever for our friends and colleagues to stay in the know on what’s happening with the campaign. If you’re one of the over 14,000 people who enjoy reading FWIW each week, give us a follow on Twitter, and help get out the word by forwarding this email to two friends who care about democracy + the money that influences it.