Would Trump win again one year on?

Donald Trump was elected as President of the USA on 8th November 2016 and has had a controversial first year in office.  If he were to run again one year on, would he win? An election taking place in Virginia 364 days after Trump’s victory will give us a good idea.

It’s a year since Donald Trump shocked the world and won the US Presidency. Highlights of his term so far include trying to ban people from Muslim-majority countries from entering the USA, defending white nationalists protesting in Charlottesville, withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement and travelling to the brink of nuclear war with North Korea.

Given Hillary Clinton won the popular vote and the consistent chorus of public outrage surrounding the current Presidency, it’s easy to assume that if another contest took place on the anniversary of the 2016 election, the Democratic candidate would end up in the White House.

That assumption is being put to the test in an election taking place on Tuesday 7th November to decide the next Governor of Virginia.

A bit of background on Virginia: it is historically a swing state; George W. Bush and Obama both won it twice; Hillary Clinton won the state by about five percentage points in 2016; and there is no incumbent as governors in Virginia can’t hold office for consecutive terms.

The Republican Party candidate, Ed Gillespie, has totally aligned himself with Trump’s agenda and the Democrat candidate, Ralph Northam, is from the Clinton (as opposed to Sanders) wing of his party.

Like Trump in ‘16, Gillespie is campaigning on the issue of tax cuts, job creation and reducing illegal immigration.  He has argued for the conservation of Confederate-era statues and complained about “sanctuary cities” (a city that limits its cooperation with the national government effort to enforce immigration law).  And he has relentlessly attacked his Democratic opponent.

Gillespie is hoping that by sticking closely to Trump’s Presidential agenda he will encourage a high turnout amongst conservative voters.

Northam is campaigning on abortion rights, the environment and is attacking his opponent as being a reactionary running a nasty, racist dog-whistle campaign.

The Democrat has more money to spend, has run more TV ads than his opponent and will be hoping to turnout the democratic base and add enough undecided women and ethnic minorities to beat his Republican opponent.

Again, this feels very familiar.

The race is seemingly too close to call with different polls showing widely different results; some have Northam with a double-digit lead and others have Gillespie just edging it.

Strategists in Washington D.C and beyond are watching the race closely. The result will give a good indication as to the mood of the electorate and will provide useful intel as to how to play mid-term elections in 2018.

And looking further ahead, if another Clinton-style candidate fails to succeed, it could influence perspectives on what type of nominee stands a chance of beating Trump in 2020.

Cautious Clinton campaign sticks with creative that’s moving the dial

iQ Media have released a report analysing the ad spend of the official Trump and Clinton campaigns over the last 30 days.

The data shows that, unsurprisingly, the candidates are focusing their spend on local TV stations (rather than national networks) in battleground states.  It also shows that, as I wrote last week, Trump is outspending Clinton the final weeks of the campaign.

One thing that jumped out to me was the fact that Trump is airing a number of different TV commercials at a relatively similar weight, whilst Clinton is only really pushing one.

hillary-clinton-media-spend
Clinton campaign focus spend on one TV ad
trump-media-spend
Trump is running a number of ads at roughly equal weight

This indicates to me that Trump is varying his message depending on the political context of the state (you can get a flavour of his ads here), but Clinton’s campaign feel they’ve landed on a piece of creative that is moving the dial.

The spot, called ‘Mirrors’ (below), uses Trump’s own words to portray the Republican nominee as having a negative attitude towards women and asks voters “is this the President we want for our daughters?”

The power of the creative comes from the authenticity with which the cultural insight – that young women are often put under huge social pressure to look and behave in a certain way – is brought to life.

Despite the fact that it has over 5 million views (the most popular film on her YouTube channel),  it will come as a surprise to some that her campaign isn’t varying the copy from state to state; in 2012 there was huge amounts of hype around the way the Obama campaign varied their ads depending on events and the demographics of the viewer.

But the Clinton campaign’s research must show that ‘Mirrors’ is working and therefore, in a typically cautious way, they’ve decided not to take a risk on other creative.

 

 

Two weeks until polls close – Trump launches last minute ad-blitz

It’s two weeks to go until polls open in the US and I’ve written an article for Campaign about how Trump is trying to close the gap with a last minute ad blitz.

You can read the piece here, which includes a reel of his latest adverts and an analysis as to why it might be effective.

People with five bucks against Trump

Crowd funders against trump

Crowd funders against trump hillary

A copywriter named Louis Wittig from advertising agency Grey has started his own super-pac-with-a-difference.  He describes the organisation as a collection of people “who find Donald Trump so absolutely annoying that we just have to do something about it.

Their plan is to raise small amounts of money from like-minded Americans using crowd-funding platform GoFundMe and use the cash to run advertisements that campaign against Trump.

To get the ball rolling, they’re initially trying to raise $1530 to run a press ad in one of New Hampshire’s biggest newspapers two days before the New Hampshire Primary.

The ads he’s prepared (examples above) are brilliantly written and are art directed in a refreshing modern way.  And. more importantly, the whole idea of a ‘people’s super pac’ is just awesome.

 

Ted goes after Trump

One of Sen. Ted Cruz’s Super Pac’s (supportive but independent campaign groups) has released a new ad aggressively attacking Trump’s record on abortion.

The footage is taken from Trump’s appearance on TV news programme ‘meet the press’ in 1999.

Subsequent to that interview, in 2011, Trump renounced those views, but that hasn’t stopped Ted Cruz’s supporters going after him.

There’s a big evangelical voter base in Iowa that seem to be moving away from Cruz (and Carson) and towards Trump.  This is clearly Cruz’s attempt to stem the flow.

Trump has also come under fire for not being a ‘proper’ conservative, given his previous record of donating to Democratic candidates – including Hillary Clinton – and mixed form on immigration.

This ad, as well as appealing to evangelicals, is trying to remind those voters who have a nagging suspicion about Trump’s true intentions, that he could be the sort of candidate who says one thing in the primaries before tacking to the centre ground in the run-off for the White House.

Creatively, it’s simple but very effective.  It has all the stalwarts of quality political communication: intellectual clarity, provocative imagery and good ol’ fashioned repetition.

Scott Walker: Instagram teaser campaign for logo release

 
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has decided to unveil his presidential campaign logo piece by piece over the course of nine days on his Instagram account.

It has certainly created some noise around his candidacy, which is fairly impressive given 12 Republicans have already declared that they’re seeking the nomination.

The campaign deciding to make a big deal out of their logo might seem like a big and unnecessary risk, as design and branding is famously subjective and ripe for ridicule.

However, the real risk is that his candidacy announcement is completely ignored. By taking a risk he’s made sure that people are at least talking about him. Very smart.

Chris Christie re-elected and shows the way for Republican Party

Chris Christie was last night re-elected as New Jersey governor with a 60-39 per cent win over Democrat Barbara Buono.   The result is significant as New Jersey is a Democrat state (it voted for Obama over Romney by a margin of 18 points) but the Republican candidate won the day comfortably.

Early data shows that Christie drew substantial support from moderate and independent voters, something which the Republican Party have struggled to do on the national stage.

The accepted wisdom amongst most commentators seems to be that whilst Christie is a social conservative and economic liberal (i.e. a typical Republican) he didn’t let cultural issues didn’t come into play; there were no dog whistle politics and race didn’t come into it even tacitly.

The ad I’ve included above shows former NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal endorsing Christie; not many Republicans can claim black, West Coast, sporting celebrities amongst their advocate base.

Christie’s record is also notable for the fact that he worked with Democrats such as president Obama on bipartisan issues; this is unlike the stubbornness and bloodymindedness that has been said to characterise much of the current Republican Party leadership.

Chris Christie is now seen as a front-running candidate for the Republican nomination for the White House race in 2016.  Christie didn’t shy away from that fact during his acceptance speech stating:

“I know that if we can do this in Trenton, New Jersey, maybe the folks in Washington should tune into their TV sets, and see how’s done”

Indeed.