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.
For what it’s worth, some of it might surprise you.
No one disputes the fact that turning out women voters is crucial to any Democratic candidate’s path to the nomination – and ultimately the White House. With a historic field of women running in the Democratic primary, next year’s contests could see an unprecedented number of women turning out on primary day. So which campaigns are making a priority to target female voters online this early? What types of messages are they pushing, and which do they think will resonate with women in key states? We take a look in this week’s FWIW.
2020 by the numbers
Donald Trump’s campaign has now spent $14.7 million on Facebook and Google advertising since the midterms. His campaign was up this week with dozens of fundraising and email acquisition ads around Mueller’s testimony on the Hill.
Tom Steyer was once again the biggest digital spender on the Democratic side last week – this time spending more than the Trump campaign. Since launching his bid two weeks ago, he’s already spent more than 11 of the Democratic candidates on the platforms, including Tulsi Gabbard and Michael Bennet.
Kirsten Gillibrand also continued to spend heavily on Facebook advertising last week, primarily with fundraising ads to help her meet the fall debate donor threshold. She also began running the first ads of her campaign mentioning impeachment. Several weeks ago we pointed out how few candidates had put money behind pro-impeachment messaging to date:
… And here are the top political ad spenders on Facebook and Google from July 14 – July 20:
Deep Dive: Who’s reaching women online? 🤷🏼♀️
Last week, we noted that Donald Trump’s campaign began organizing online around their “Women for Trump” launch, a pink and purple branded effort to bring more women aboard the Trump train. It’s something he’ll clearly need to invest in given his recent approval ratings among women voters. 🙄The launch made us wonder how the two dozen Democrats running are engaging women as a specific audience online.
In April, Open Secrets conducted an analysis of which of the 2020 Democratic campaigns had the most itemized donations from women donors. It found that Kirsten Gillibrand was the only 2020 candidate to have received over 50% of her donations from women. With Biden’s entry into the race since then, as well as both Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren’s recent surge in the polls – those numbers could have clearly changed.
The feminist vote
That said, Kirsten Gillibrand has attempted to lean-in hard to the feminist bloc of Democratic primary voters, embracing the fight over abortion rights, and very clearly telling the New York Times that “this is my space.” In most of her recent ads, she’s been pushing messages about how she’s the strongest fighter for women, pushes back against Trump’s misogyny, and even started featuring legendary feminist activist Gloria Steinem in her fundraising ads:
She’s got a plan
In a move that’s very on brand for her detail-oriented campaign, Elizabeth Warren’s team is running ads pushing detailed messaging on what she’d do to improve women’s lives – from overturning the Hyde Amendment, to promoting her plan to raise wages for women of color. The below ads have run nationwide, exclusively targeting women voters.
A play for female caucus goers
Elizabeth Warren may have a plan, but Kamala Harris has a strategy. Kamala Harris’s campaign is making a very targeted play online for women voters in Iowa. She’s running multiple Facebook ads exclusively targeting women in the state, boosting positive articles and profiles from women-focused magazines like Glamour, Vogue, and Marie Claire (a digital advertising best practice we at ACRONYM ).
What are the men up to? 🤷🏼♀️
While a majority of the candidates both male and female have run ads around reproductive rights, some have gone farther pushed policies and messaging online around other issues important to female voters. Andrew Yang has been promoting his appearance on The View, specifically highlighting how his push for a Universal Basic Income would empower women.
…and Bernie Sanders, who’s campaign usually targets their ads broadly and nationally around his economic schtick, has targeted mostly women with the below ads around raising teacher pay nationwide to at least $60,000/year:
BONUS: Trump Straws 🥤
If you haven’t seen it yet, the Trump campaign is selling Trump-branded plastic straws online, following a tweet by his campaign manager about how paper straws disintegrate in your mouth. It may seem kitschy and reactionary, but they’ve already sold out once and the straw debate is just the type of cultural flashpoint Trump loves to use to energize his base. Imagine if all those Democratic campaigns looking for 130,000 small dollar donors sold a similar piece of viral merch to get them over the finish line instead of those selfie video pleas… just sayin.
One more thing… 🤳
That’s all for this week. But before you go, we wanted to let you know that our team is hiring! Help us find the best and brightest at the intersection of politics, advertising, tech, and media here