Political advertising on TV slowed down significantly at the tail end of primary season. May saw no new ads from the Trump or Clinton campaigns. Trump, with an unprecedented level of earned media, continued with a blank slate in June, while Clinton resumed with five fresh ads.
In June, the Bernie Sanders campaign aired one ad, and following the trend in previous months, it garnered the highest Ace Metrix score of the month, among candidate ads. Since the beginning of the year, Bernie 2016 ads have performed significantly higher than Clinton, Trump or super PAC ads.
This appeal comes largely from the Independent section of the electorate, which responded positively to the Bernie Sanders campaign.
Sanders ads beat the average Ace Score among Independents by 66 points. In an election year that has become a #Never Donald or Hillary contest, attracting those voters in the center will be both crucial and increasingly difficult.
Hillary Clinton now has Sanders in her corner, with the Vermont Senator set to appear at a rally with her in New Hampshire this week. As far as June ads, however, it is a Koch brothers ad that was most appealing to Independents.
“End the Divide,” the Koch spot, scored highest overall among all 327 presidential ads aired in 2016. It rated second to Sanders’ “Fairness” among Independent voters. Interestingly, the two ads addressed the issue of a growing wage gap and stratification in the American economy, pointing to what resonates best with those all-important swing voters.
Whether the success of the conservative Koch ad will translate to the top of the ticket, in a year where many down-ballot Republicans are wary of being associated with Trump, is another question.
The Sanders bump for Clinton is to be coupled with a heavily negative advertising strategy coming from both the Clinton campaign and pro-Clinton super Super PACs.
According to Ace Metrix, anti-Trump ads have a more negative slant than anti-Clinton ones. The impact scores among the anti-candidate ads, however, were almost identical.
Year-to-date, super PACs have aired a total of 147 TV ads, making up 45% of all ads. Bernie 2016 picked up 14% of the total with 44 ads, Hillary for America had 13% with 42, and Trump for President ran just 11 ads, making up 3% of the 327 total ads run this year.