Discover more from FWIW
Republicans double down on conspiracies
Also inside: Snapchat’s political summit & Secretary Pete’s viral moment
Republicans on Capitol Hill are on the verge of a full-scale rebellion against Speaker Kevin McCarthy, as they remain incapable of passing any legislation to avert a potential government shutdown in the coming weeks. Instead of focusing on that, several moments this week showed their party’s willingness to elevate fringe conspiracy theories online and off.
In this week’s FWIW, we’ll break down the wild journey of Jon Fetterman’s body double, how Pete Buttigieg shut down a Congressional climate denier, and a quick takeaway from Snapchat’s first-ever Political Summit. But first…
By the numbers
FWIW, political advertisers spent just over $8.1 million on Facebook and Instagram ads last week. These were the top ten spenders nationwide:
Progressive group Red Wine and Blue has launched a new advertising campaign taking aim at the conservative “parents’ rights” network, Moms for Liberty. The ads primarily target women in PA, OH, NC, MI, and VA.
There has been a collective freakout among progressive donors and operatives in recent months about the large network that Moms for Liberty has built, how it’s impacting down-ballot races, and whether or not it will be weaponized in next year’s presidential election. Just this week, Run For Something announced a major investment in school board races - a realm where Moms for Liberty has become very engaged.
Meanwhile, political campaigns spent $1.7 million on Google and YouTube ads last week. Here were the top ten spenders nationwide:
Pro-Biden Super PAC Future Forward USA Action was the top spending political advertiser on Google & YouTube last week. The group spent around $270,000 on video ads touting the Biden administration’s accomplishments, targeting MI, GA, AZ, PA, WI, and NV. Here’s one ad they're running:
…and on Snapchat, political campaigns and organizations in the United States have spent around $1.7 million on advertising in 2023. Here are the top ten spenders YTD:
Your 2024 digital dispatch
FWIW, here’s how much money the 2024 presidential candidates have spent on Facebook + Google ads to date (1/1 - 9/16):
…and here’s how weekly digital ad spending compares between the Trump and Biden campaigns:
Donald Trump’s campaign is running radio ads supporting striking UAW auto workers in what looks to be a part of his team’s pivot to the general election.
Hunter Schwarz found that one in five pieces of Trump campaign merchandise are indictment-related.
From around the internet:
The White House had a good tweet.
Former Obama Campaign Manager Jim Messina made an astute observation about Democrats’ over-performance in special elections this year
New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg is asking: “Where has all the Left-Wing Money Gone?”
Gov. Josh Shapiro is instituting automatic voter registration in Pennsylvania, which will no doubt have a huge impact on next year’s elections. The Keystone had an exclusive video interview with the Governor >>
Mike Lux and American Family Voices released a new report on voters who live in “Factory Towns” - and how some messages around Bidenomics could be persuasive to them.
Fetterman haters double down
Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) is progressing well with recovery from last year’s health issues, and his speech has noticeably improved in recent weeks. That’s unwelcome news for his haters at FOX News and in the right-wing online ecosystem.
Back in March, when Fetterman was leaving inpatient treatment at Walter Reed, conspiracy theorists online began to spread the rumor that somehow the 6’8” Senator had been *replaced by a body double.* This week, the bizarre, false accusations resurfaced, receiving millions of views on sites like Twitter (X) and making the rounds on the right-wing internet.
The Washington Post even published an in-depth analysis of why Fetterman specifically would be hard to find a body double for. Lol.
What we found more interesting is how Fetterman has been inoculating Americans against the claim. He and his staffers have used humor to make conspiracy theorists look like clowns, and his campaign is now selling “body double” merch.
A lot of this recent Fetterman hate is not a coincidence - he went viral by effectively mocking the House GOP’s impeachment news last week and is currently at the center of a Capitol Hill Faux Outrage Moment over changes to the Senate dress code.
Snap’s political landscape
Yesterday we stopped by Snapchat’s first-ever “Political Summit” in DC, where the company pitched political campaign types on the importance of reaching their user base and shared key stats on how people use their platform. Despite being a little less buzzy in the political space than Instagram or TikTok, over 100 million Americans still use Snapchat every month.
At the event, the company emphasized how users see its platform as a way to communicate primarily with close friends, and how they share more “real” or authentic content than they do on their more curated Instagram grids. Also, it’s not just for the kids - there’s a huge portion of Snap’s core user base who are aged 18-34 and ripe for political campaigns to communicate with.
Over the past five years, political advertisers (mostly on the Left) have experimented with Snapchat ads as a way to reach younger voters with mobilization or educational content. We’ve seen Democratic Presidential, Senate, and Congressional campaigns invest here, but Republicans have largely stayed away. “Republicans are actively missing out on millions of potential voters - many Independent and undecided - by not actively spending consistently on the platform,” one operative told us last year.
FWIW, here’s how much campaigns, nonprofits, and social good corporations have spent on these types of ads each year:
Spending on Snapchat remains very low compared to other social platforms like Facebook or Instagram, but in an election cycle like 2024 - where voters under 40 will be responsible for re-electing the President - it should be seen as a critical battleground for reaching people online.
One last thing: Secretary Pete vs. climate denial
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg testified before a Congressional committee this week, which gave Republicans plenty of opportunities to embarrass themselves and make a viral media moment out of it. The best exchange happened when Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) implied that climate change isn’t real and the weather is changing because it is “autumn.” Pete expertly made LaMalfa repeat his dumb comment three times for optimal effect. The video has been watched millions of times across various social platforms.
That’s it for FWIW this week! This email was sent to 16,821 readers. Help us reach more subscribers by forwarding this week’s issue to your colleagues!