Scholarly study reveals how badly Hillary screwed up campaign advertising

I never expected that academia, dominated by leftists, would so thoroughly discredit the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.  But a remarkably honest academic assessment of the role of television advertising in the 2016 presidential election has revealed some very uncomfortable truths for Democrats.  Published in the academic journal The Forum: A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics (PDF available here), the paper by three scholars collected and analyzed television advertising at all levels (national, local, cable) based on a database generated by ultra-P.C. Wesleyan University (The Wesleyan Media Project).

The first finding is no surprise.  Hillary had a huge spending advantage:

In contrast to prior cycles in which the balance of ads aired on behalf of the Republican and Democratic nominees was about even, Hillary Clinton's campaign (alone and with her allies) spent vastly more on campaign advertising than did Donald Trump's. And yet Trump won the election. Moreover, despite being ahead in the polls for much of the campaign, Clinton never saw movement in the polls that one might expect with such imbalances in campaign expenditures.

Remember that the mantra of Democrats, especially since the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, has been that money buys victories, and therefore the First Amendment doesn't really protect moneyed interests.  Or something (their position never made sense to me).  The three scholars[1] who authored the study warn against drawing the conclusion that money itself is unimportant.  Instead, they seem to point to the incompetence (my word, not theirs) of the Hillary campaign.

One might draw the inference, then, that advertising no longer matters in elections, an inference made believable in a "post-truth" media environment where a tweet can dominate a news cycle. We urge caution, however, in drawing that conclusion too quickly. As we will demonstrate (1) Clinton's unexpected losses came in states in which she failed to air ads until the last week and (2) Clinton's message was devoid of discussions of policy in a way not seen in the previous four presidential contests.

This last point is the real headline.  Hillary's main thrust was personal attacks, while Trump's main thrust was policy.  So do not expect the mainstream media to come anywhere near this conclusion, because it contradicts both the media narrative and liberals' self-image as thoughtful and Trump as a wild man.

For all of the talk of the unusual advertising campaign that Trump ran in 2016, his message strategy was more traditionally policy-focused. Ironically, it was the Clinton campaign that deviated sharply from the conventional playbook when it came to messaging despite following conventional norms in terms of volume, placement and targeting of ads. Indeed, only one in four Clinton campaign ads focused on policy, which is by far the lowest percentage we have seen since data from Kantar Media/CMAG have been available.

Neil Munro of Breitbart summarizes the dramatic numbers the study reveals:

The media narrative also ignored Clinton's far greater expenditure on TV advertising. In prior presidential campaigns, coverage by the establishment media has often bemoaned the scale and negativity of the campaign advertising, but according to the report:

Hillary Clinton's campaign (alone and with her allies) spent vastly more on campaign advertising than did Donald Trump's. And yet Trump won the election …

The Clinton campaign aired just under 200,000 ads at an estimated cost of just under $120 million during the last 9 weeks of the campaign, dwarfing the Trump campaign's 76,000 ads at a cost of $66 million. Clinton's advantage becomes even more stark when one adds in the almost 50,000 spots aired by Priorities USA Action, a pro-Clinton super PAC. There was some outside group spending on behalf of Trump, including the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, which aired about 10,000 ads on broadcast during the general election period …

Clinton's campaign also bought almost 300,000 ads on local broadcast and national cable outlets, plus almost 700,000 ads on local cable channels. In contrast, Trump's campaign funded less than 100,000 ads in both categories combined.    

So Clinton's campaign and her allies ran at least 1.25 million TV ads, compared to Trump's score of 186,000 ads.

The report is quite readable for an academic study.  This is one to carefully digest.  I must compliment the authors on their objectivity, and note for the record that the negative conclusions I reach are my own.  The conclusion of Hillary's incompetence is my own. 

[1] Erika Franklin Fowler, Associate Professor, Department of Government, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, USA; Travis N. Ridout, Thomas S. Foley Distinguished Professor, School of Politics, Philosophy and Public Affairs, Washington State University, Pullman, WA, USA; and Michael M. Franz, Associate Professor, Department of Government and Legal Studies, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME, USA.

I never expected that academia, dominated by leftists, would so thoroughly discredit the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.  But a remarkably honest academic assessment of the role of television advertising in the 2016 presidential election has revealed some very uncomfortable truths for Democrats.  Published in the academic journal The Forum: A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics (PDF available here), the paper by three scholars collected and analyzed television advertising at all levels (national, local, cable) based on a database generated by ultra-P.C. Wesleyan University (The Wesleyan Media Project).

The first finding is no surprise.  Hillary had a huge spending advantage:

In contrast to prior cycles in which the balance of ads aired on behalf of the Republican and Democratic nominees was about even, Hillary Clinton's campaign (alone and with her allies) spent vastly more on campaign advertising than did Donald Trump's. And yet Trump won the election. Moreover, despite being ahead in the polls for much of the campaign, Clinton never saw movement in the polls that one might expect with such imbalances in campaign expenditures.

Remember that the mantra of Democrats, especially since the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, has been that money buys victories, and therefore the First Amendment doesn't really protect moneyed interests.  Or something (their position never made sense to me).  The three scholars[1] who authored the study warn against drawing the conclusion that money itself is unimportant.  Instead, they seem to point to the incompetence (my word, not theirs) of the Hillary campaign.

One might draw the inference, then, that advertising no longer matters in elections, an inference made believable in a "post-truth" media environment where a tweet can dominate a news cycle. We urge caution, however, in drawing that conclusion too quickly. As we will demonstrate (1) Clinton's unexpected losses came in states in which she failed to air ads until the last week and (2) Clinton's message was devoid of discussions of policy in a way not seen in the previous four presidential contests.

This last point is the real headline.  Hillary's main thrust was personal attacks, while Trump's main thrust was policy.  So do not expect the mainstream media to come anywhere near this conclusion, because it contradicts both the media narrative and liberals' self-image as thoughtful and Trump as a wild man.

For all of the talk of the unusual advertising campaign that Trump ran in 2016, his message strategy was more traditionally policy-focused. Ironically, it was the Clinton campaign that deviated sharply from the conventional playbook when it came to messaging despite following conventional norms in terms of volume, placement and targeting of ads. Indeed, only one in four Clinton campaign ads focused on policy, which is by far the lowest percentage we have seen since data from Kantar Media/CMAG have been available.

Neil Munro of Breitbart summarizes the dramatic numbers the study reveals:

The media narrative also ignored Clinton's far greater expenditure on TV advertising. In prior presidential campaigns, coverage by the establishment media has often bemoaned the scale and negativity of the campaign advertising, but according to the report:

Hillary Clinton's campaign (alone and with her allies) spent vastly more on campaign advertising than did Donald Trump's. And yet Trump won the election …

The Clinton campaign aired just under 200,000 ads at an estimated cost of just under $120 million during the last 9 weeks of the campaign, dwarfing the Trump campaign's 76,000 ads at a cost of $66 million. Clinton's advantage becomes even more stark when one adds in the almost 50,000 spots aired by Priorities USA Action, a pro-Clinton super PAC. There was some outside group spending on behalf of Trump, including the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, which aired about 10,000 ads on broadcast during the general election period …

Clinton's campaign also bought almost 300,000 ads on local broadcast and national cable outlets, plus almost 700,000 ads on local cable channels. In contrast, Trump's campaign funded less than 100,000 ads in both categories combined.    

So Clinton's campaign and her allies ran at least 1.25 million TV ads, compared to Trump's score of 186,000 ads.

The report is quite readable for an academic study.  This is one to carefully digest.  I must compliment the authors on their objectivity, and note for the record that the negative conclusions I reach are my own.  The conclusion of Hillary's incompetence is my own. 

[1] Erika Franklin Fowler, Associate Professor, Department of Government, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, USA; Travis N. Ridout, Thomas S. Foley Distinguished Professor, School of Politics, Philosophy and Public Affairs, Washington State University, Pullman, WA, USA; and Michael M. Franz, Associate Professor, Department of Government and Legal Studies, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME, USA.

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