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Trump’s Lost Summer: Focuses on Fox News, not Battlefield States



“I would be shocked if you don’t see that [Trump] Campaign in these larger battlefield states to have some level of demographic messaging of women in suburban urban areas where college graduate women have become such a problem. I think you will see it, but you haven’t seen it before, ”said Nick Everhart, a Republican media advisor.

“So far everything has been 20,000 feet, feed the base with red meat … messaging. The Trump campaign has always made it a top priority to get a narrative to the grassroots, “Everhart said. “Ultimately, you can’t build a house if you don’t have a solid foundation, and politically the GOP base is the foundation for the president.”

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Overall, Trump’s summer spending on national Fox News ads – more than 10 percent of the campaign’s total TV budget during that time and more than the rest of the cable advertising combined – has flagged a Trump-bottomed strategy despite the campaign According to interviews with more than half a dozen advertising experts and Republican strategists, the aim is to target suburbanites with swing voting. It reflects Trump’s impulse to focus on friendly groups rather than those who may not have supported him in 2016. And the advertising strategy raises additional doubts as to whether the free Trump campaign has used the hundreds of millions of dollars it raised efficiently over the past four years.

Another Republican media strategist questioned the campaign’s approach. The person said Trump needed a bigger exposure on entertainment channels to attract voters who don’t watch the news. “News channels are big in Washington, DC, but do swing voters see … news channels?” The strategist said, “Missing this audience is pretty big.”

Some note that there are reasons for Trump to maintain a significant presence on Fox News, including encouraging fundraising for the campaign and the fact that his base – Trump’s political touchstone – stays firmly behind him. With the largest audience on cable, Fox attracts some independent voters in battlefield states. And Trump’s digital operation spends unprecedented amounts of money on advertising on online platforms like YouTubethat are becoming a more powerful force to reach swing voters.

“The data shows that many independents watch Fox News. The first thing I always do is get the most out of Fox News,” said Brad Todd, a Republican media advisor. Todd also noted that during the coronavirus pandemic, “much of the current entertainment program will be repeated”.

“Fox News program is fresh,” said Todd. “Live sports are way down, so the latest content is currently available on the news channels.”

Coupled with the campaign’s recurring swing state TV commercials, the cost of national Fox News ads means a greater reliance on outside groups – including America First Action, the pro-Trump super PAC – to provide some coverage for the campaign to offer less diversified TV strategy of the campaign. Pro-Biden groups spent $ 156 million on television compared to $ 136 million on pro-Trump groups in June, July, and August, according to Advertising Analytics.

“The Trump campaign has been in key states in the country for years, connecting directly with voters on the successes of President Trump’s America First Agenda. We will continue to spread that message and the American people through Joe Biden’s destructive, socialist agenda inform on the ground and on the radio waves, “said the spokeswoman for the Trump campaign, Samantha Zager, in a statement.

In August, the Trump campaign announced that TV spending was on hold to review its strategy after Bill Stepien took over Brad Parscale as campaign manager. Last month, Trump’s senior adviser Jason Miller said the campaign “is now saving money and focusing a little bit smarter and a little bit more effectively on the states that vote early”.

Now, both Biden and Trump, as well as supporting outside groups, are dropping millions in new TV purchases as Labor Day marks the turn of the fall campaign season. Biden has booked (and counted) an additional $ 156 million in ads by election day, while Trump has reserved $ 151 million so far. The two campaigns are matched nearly dollar for dollar in television advertising in a number of swing states.

The GOP election office Public Opinion Strategies wrote In 2019, more than half of Fox News audiences identified themselves as Republicans or Conservatives. People using Fox News as their primary news source were three times more likely than the average American adult to say that Trump’s coronavirus response was excellent Pew Research Center Found earlier this year. And while Trump’s approval rating was 46 percent in an NBC / Wall Street Journal poll in May 2019, the president’s rating among Fox News viewers was 73 percent.

The Trump campaign “keeps talking about its intensity with its grassroots, but they clearly pay for it,” said another Republican strategist, who allowed anonymity to openly discuss the issue. “To what extent are you paying for this intensity to the detriment of a swing audience?”

The cable advertising of the Biden campaign was more diverse. He spent $ 2.3 million on CNN national purchases and $ 1.8 million on Fox News in the past three months, according to Advertising Analytics. But more than two-thirds of the Democratic candidate’s cable purchases were aimed at local markets, while Biden’s campaign ran specific ads targeting local issues or specific populations.

“The Biden campaign is running an Obama 2012-type campaign that uses hyper-targeted wired messaging to drill down to specific states and regions rather than macro-level news advancement,” Everhart said.

Examples of the strategy include ads in Ohio and North Carolina, employment centers for Goodyear after Trump condemned the company for its diversity training. Biden ads for seniors dealing with the coronavirus pandemic were run specifically in Florida, including in the Villages, the massive retirement community.

After the 2012 campaign, analysts took note of the Obama campaign’s cable strategy and predicted it would be a must-have for future campaigns. But Trump spent little on local cable – less than 10 percent of the $ 18.3 million his campaign spent on cable in June, July and August. And some of what Trump spent on local cable aired in Washington, DC, a far cry from voters in the major swing states of 2020.

The Trump campaign may rely on their digital advertising to target the battlefield state’s key voters. Trump’s campaign spends far more than Biden online, and the strategy would in part mimic the President’s 2016 campaign when it was televised, but make up for it with uninterrupted coverage from the news media and a robust digital advertising campaign.

“Their digital strategy is diverse and they cater to all audiences who need them, including suburban women, younger voters and independents,” said Eric Wilson, a Republican digital strategist. “You certainly do a lot of list building. But a lot of persuasion also goes to an important audience. “


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