For political campaigns online, style can matter as much as substance
In a tough national environment, playing it safe with online content often means losing
Debates are raging in Washington and on the Twitterverse about Democrats’ tenuous position heading into the midterm elections. Most punditry has focused on generic Democrats running against yet-to-be nominated Republican opponents, using hypothetical messages and targeting an undefined universe of voters. Should Democrats focus their messaging on saving Democracy? Should they be talking about COVID? Why aren’t we selling the Biden agenda? What about Trump!?
While those are important conversations to have about the substance of a candidate’s message on the campaign trail, I’d caution Democrats not to neglect the style of how they communicate their preferred message to voters. Especially when it comes to generating hype among voters online, style can sometimes matter as much as substance.
In this week’s FWIW, I’ll share why I think Democrats have no other option than to take big risks online. But first…
By the numbers
FWIW, here were the top political ad spenders on Meta platforms (Facebook + Instagram) last week:
Facebook advertising in Georgia’s competitive statewide races is heating up, with Stacey Abrams and Raphael Warnock far outpacing their Republican rivals in spending on the platform. Both campaigns are bringing their A games, with Warnock running slick vertical video ads captioned in Spanish, and Abrams continuing a boosted news push:
Abrams is also aggressively fundraising on the platform, and that’s due in part to Republicans in the Georgia state legislature considering a move that would prevent her from fundraising until April.
Meanwhile, here were the top-spending political advertisers on Google platforms last week, including YouTube:
On Google & YouTube, spending last week was down, but one interesting spender we noticed was the liberal advocacy group Advancing AZ. They recently launched an onslaught of video, search, and banner ads against Gov. Doug Ducey, who can’t run for re-election, but is considering challenging Sen. Mark Kelly in November. 👀
And FWIW, here are the top spenders on Snapchat political ads so far this year:
Midterm spending takeaways
The midterms are upon us, and we’re keeping a close eye on digital ad spending in key Senate, House, and Gubernatorial contests. For full access to the most comprehensive dataset of midterm digital spending, become a paying subscriber here. >>
Mark Kelly was the top-spending battleground Senate candidate on FB + Google ads last week (view Senate data).
Stacey Abrams was the top spending battleground Gubernatorial candidate on digital ads last week (view Gov data).
IL-14 was the most expensive swing U.S. House district race online last week (view House data).
New from Campaigner
The cyclical nature of politics means that campaign organizing programs typically disappear on the first Wednesday in November, but some are finding value in organizers remaining in their communities for the long haul. For this week’s Campaigner, we spoke with Daniela Michanie, Organizing Director for Rep. Ayanna Pressley, about her work leading long-term, “deep canvassing” programs in Boston. Read + subscribe here >>
For political campaigns online, style matters as much as substance
Debates are raging in Washington and on the Twitterverse related to Democrats’ tenuous position heading into the midterm elections. Most punditry has been unhelpful, citing generic Democrats running against yet-to-be nominated Republican opponents, using hypothetical messages and targeting an undefined universe of voters. Should Democrats focus their messaging on saving Democracy? Should they be talking about COVID? Why aren’t we selling the Biden agenda? Why don’t voters care about our accomplishments? What about Trump!?
While those may be important conversations to have about the substance of a candidate’s message on the campaign trail, we’d caution campaigns not to neglect the style of how they make themselves known to voters. In fact, when it comes to online campaigns for votes, style matters as much as substance.
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