November 1, 2016
In these final days of the presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have been doubling down on ads that focus on strengths in their own characters and records and deficiencies in each other’s, according to a search of political ads airing in key battleground state markets tracked by the Political TV Ad Archive. Despite all the fracas in the news, in ads the revived email scandal is not a major theme at this point.
The review looks at presidential ads that have aired since October 28–the day the news broke that FBI director James Comey was investigating a trove of emails pertinent to his probe of Clinton’s use of a private email server. It hones in on ten key TV markets, all of which also include key Senate races: Boston, MA/Manchester, NH; Cedar Rapids, IA; Cleveland, OH; Denver, CO; Las Vegas, NV; Milwaukee, WI; Phoenix, AZ; Philadelphia, PA; Raleigh-Durham, NC; and Tampa, FL.
The top airing ads by the Trump and Clinton campaigns were already in wide circulation before the Comey bombshell dropped last week, although in most cases they are are quite new, clearly crafted as closing arguments in the campaign.
For example, this ad from the Clinton campaign, began playing on October 25 across Boston, Cedar Rapids, Cleveland, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Raleigh-Durham, and Tampa, totaling more than 875 airings. The narrator: the dulcet-toned actor Morgan Freeman, who begins by invoking the nation’s children, saying that they are “looking to see what kind of leaders we choose.” He then compares Clinton’s virtues with Trump’s flaws: “Will it be the one respected around the world? Or the one who frightens our allies and emboldens our enemies?” He does not name Clinton or Trump directly, but photos are shown of the two as he speaks. At the very end, he mentions Clinton’s name.
Meanwhile, Trump’s top ad airing across all the markets being tracked, beginning on October 19, starts with criticism of Clinton as the ultimate Washington insider. “Hillary Clinton won’t change Washington. She’s been there 30 years. Taxes went up. Terrorism spread. Jobs vanished. But special interests and Washington insiders thrived.” Trump, however, “will turn Washington upside down, day one.” The closer: “A vote for Donald Trump is a vote for change that makes America great again.” The ad has aired more than 2,260 times and counting, by far the most of any paid ad by the Trump campaign in recent days.
Clinton, however, has an arsenal of other ads that are airing, many featuring bipartisanship and some featuring Republicans who have decided to support her campaign. This one, which began airing October 25, features General John R. Allen, identified as a four-star general. He says he served under both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. “I believe Secretary Clinton really understands the threat of the Islamic state poses to the United States and the American people.” It has aired more than 795 times so far.
Another new ad from the Clinton campaign focuses on her record in promoting policies benefiting families and children. Clinton says: “I believe families deserve quality education for their kids, child care they can trust and afford, equal pay for women and jobs they can really live on,” and “Kids and families have been the passion of my life, and they will be the heart of my presidency.”. This ad began airing in tracked markets on October 25, and has played more than 600 times so far.
Meanwhile, some outside groups are sponsoring ads getting big air play in recent days. Priorities USA Action, a super PAC supporting Clinton, is sponsor of this negative ad featuring clips of Trump saying outrageous things. “Bomb the *#@#4% out of them.” “I moved on her like a $#@$#.” “Such a nasty woman.” It has aired more than 295 times and counting in Cleveland, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Raleigh-Durham, and Tampa.
The NRA Institute for Legislative Action has recently revived this ad in the Denver market, where it has more than 75 times since October 26. In the ad, a woman identified as Kristi M., says she fought back against an attacker with her pistol. “Every woman has a right to defend herself with a gun as she chooses. Hillary Clinton disagrees with that…Donald Trump supports my right to own a gun.” Earlier, this ad played predominantly in Cleveland and Raleigh-Durham.
Trump has been the only presidential candidate on the air in Denver recently. In addition to the NRA’s ad above, his ad attacking Clinton as a Washington insider has been playing since October 20. Clinton has not aired an ad in Denver since July, but has recently bought some spots, according to this report in the Denver Post.