Sen. Bernie Sanders’ TV advertisements are the most effective of the 2016 presidential election cycle. That is according to an in-depth study conducted on how individuals of different political inclinations relate to various presidential ads.
Not only does Sanders have the single most effective ad, Bernie 2016 has seven of the top 10 ads among the full sample of respondents. Rounding out the top 10 most effective ads are a Carson America spot, a relatively ancient Draft Biden ad and an ad placed by Kasich for America.
The study, conducted by Ace Metrix, had a sample of 500 respondents for each ad. Respondents rate the ads on a scale of 1-100, picking a particular score for each of a variety of terms used to represent different persuasion actions.
These range from a “seek information” score, measuring to what extent the respondent was interested in learning more about the candidate after watching the ad, to an “attention” score, quantifying whether the respondent was attentive to the spot.
When analyzing the individual political parties, a different picture emerges. Respondents who “always” vote Republican rated a Sen. Ted Cruz ad as the most effective, with Donald Trump’s “Great Again” a close second.
Among respondents who “always” vote Democrat, Sanders’ ad, “The Bottom 100 Million,” is rated most effective, with Hillary Clinton’s “Get Ahead” coming in second.
Crucially, there are noticeably fewer super PAC ads on the Democratic side than from the GOP -- highlighting both the larger GOP field and the heavy reliance that Republicans have on PACs.
So far this cycle, conservative super PACs have spent $156.7 million compared to a measly $5.8 million spent by liberal and other PACs.
The data become more telling when we look at how Independents have rated the ads. Sanders is way ahead in this voter block, with six of the top 10 ads. In the study, “Independent” also includes voters who lean either liberal or conservative, showing positive reactions to Sanders throughout the left and across the center of the political spectrum.
Neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump come close to the top 10 ads among Independents, hinting to difficulties both face when trying to convert undecideds and Independents to their cause.
With regards to messaging, Mark Bryant, VP of politics and advocacy at Ace Metrix, told Marketing Politics Daily that the most successful Democratic ads did not focus on the candidates themselves, but rather spoke of broad ideals and general themes.
On the other hand, Bryant noted, GOP respondents react best to ads emphasizing anti-radical Islamist and anti-ISIL messages.
The results may bode well for Bernie Sanders. They show an opening among Independents, which could help him to usurp Hillary Clinton in the race for the nomination. Though, in that case, Michael Bloomberg may be waiting in the wings.