Welcome to FWIW, ACRONYM’s weekly newsletter breaking down digital strategy and investments across the political spectrum. Each week, we look at how campaigns are – or aren’t – leveraging smart digital strategies to drive narratives and win elections.
Being stuck at home for another week it may have made it seem like the world around us is frozen in time, but the race for the White House continues to heat up. Bernie Sanders ended his campaign, and the Trump campaign + the RNC have begun more aggressively defending the President for his failure to respond to the global pandemic. We’ll take a look below.
2020, by the numbers
Donald Trump’s re-election campaign has spent over $50.6 million on Facebook + Google advertising since the 2018 midterm elections. Joe Biden has spent $15.5 million advertising on those platforms since launching his campaign.
Here’s how much each candidate spent last week:
…And overall, here are the top 10 political campaign and organization ad spenders on Facebook last week:
The Biden campaign slightly outspent Trump on Facebook last week. The large majority of his ads on the platform were for fundraising – trying to fill up his campaign war chest as he begins to build his general election campaign. Ads launched yesterday declare him the ‘presumptive nominee’ after news broke that Bernie Sanders ended his campaign:
Meanwhile, here’s how much political campaigns and groups are spending on Google & YouTube advertising:
As you can see – the Trump campaign dramatically outspent Biden (by 10x) and others on Google last week. Their hundreds of ads are a mix of video, static images, and search ads pushing everything from surveys on the border wall to petitions for Chuck Schumer to resign, but with little mention of the national health crisis impacting every single American today. 🧐
The Weekly Round-up:
Once the front-runner, Bernie Sanders ended his campaign this week after his delegate path narrowed and the primary pretty much shut down due to the global pandemic upon us. In both 2016 and 2020, his campaign streamlined digital tactics to reach supporters and voters online in as many places and platforms as possible. From a massive online grassroots fundraising operation to live-streamson sites like Twitch, supporter organizing in Facebook groups, a strong mobile app, and a bomb-throwing campaign newsletter, his campaign knew they had to keep their die-hards engaged, and they did so every day online.
In the end, campaigns are about addition, and the math just wasn’t there this time around, but the movement the Bernie campaign built online over the years isn’t going anywhere. This WIRED piece is a must-read on how his team used the internet to transform political campaigning in 2020.
Trolls gonna troll
Once eager to run against the Democratic Socialist, the Trump campaign obnoxiously started blasting out ads, tweets, and text messages highlighting Bernie’s departure from the race. For months, they’ve ran ads and videos tying all Democrats to “radical socialist agenda”, and have done so with Biden as well:
His first campaign ads to go up on Facebook yesterday also mention Sanders dropping out, in a set of ads trolling former Bernie supporters to “join the winning team.” Note: There’s no evidence they’re actually targeting Sanders supporters with these fundraising ads, and if they were, wouldn’t be particularly effective.
New ads, who dis?
After weeks of silence on the issue of coronavirus, the Trump campaign and the RNC have begun to show their cards in terms of their defense of the President’s failed response to the crisis.
This morning, the RNC announced a $1 million digital ad buy to defend the President against attacks, after their blessed SuperPAC, America First Policies, dropped the ball. Here’s one of their bare-bones ads, although their digital team forgot to put captions on the video:
Meanwhile, the Trump campaign has been cranking out videos slamming Biden and re-writing history of Trump’s response. These have yet to go up as ads on Facebook or YouTube, but at least one seems produced with TV in mind.
…and if there’s one pivot on this crisis that the Trump campaign is eager to take, it’s escalating their messaging war against China. This particularly striking video, released yesterday, continues to bait Democrats into defending China and positions Joe Biden as one of the country’s defenders.
BONUS: A night at the movies 🍿
Our political action committee, PACRONYM, released a new video last night comparing President Trump’s failed leadership to famous characters with failed judgements in cinema. Give it a watch + share:
One more thing… 🤳
That’s all for FWIW this week! We hope you stay healthy and sane, and continue practice social distancing! But before you go, we have one more ask of you! Follow us on Instagram! In this absurd time of quarantine, we have a little extra time on our hands, so we’ll be sharing new videos + content there as this crisis continues to play out online. Plus, we’ll be going live with a special guest next week, so give us a follow to make sure you get the alert!