Like every election since television became ubiquitous in most households, TV ads have been a staple of the election in 2016.
The three most-aired swing-state TV ads of the 2016 presidential cycle portray the divisiveness and negativity pervasive throughout the election. The Political TV Ad Archive and PolitiFact compiled a list of the most-aired presidential ads in the largest markets in the key swing states.
Of the top 10, only three were pro-Donald Trump ads -- a direct result of Trump’s late arrival to TV advertising. They are:
1. The pro-Clinton super PAC ad “Dante,” run by Priorities USA, highlights Donald Trump’s comments about a disabled New York Times reporter. Dante, a 17-year-old from Nevada, tells the story of his own battle with physical and medical ailments. He has a strong response to what Trump said and did. “I don’t want a president who makes fun of me,” Dante says. “I want a president who inspires me -- and that’s not Donald Trump.”
Ads like this hit home. In an election with two of the most disliked candidates in living memory, many voters are choosing to vote against, rather than for, candidates.
“Dante” aired 15,156 times, mostly between mid-September and mid-October, with a few airings last week. The highest incidence of the ad was found to n Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Denver, and Cleveland, with a less robust presence in Boston, Raleigh, Tampa, Milwaukee, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and San Francisco.
2. While Donald Trump did not have a strong advertising presence on TV, compared to Hillary Clinton, his “Do You Really Need To Ask?” ad comes in at second on the list.
It starts with Clinton asking why she is not 50 points ahead of Trump in the polls. In response, the narrator, taking license to muddle truths responds: “Maybe it’s because the director of the FBI said you lied about your email. Or maybe it’s because your policies have allowed ISIS and terrorism to spread. Or maybe it’s because you called Americans ‘deplorables.’”
The ad successfully points to many of Clinton’s pressure points with voters -- her emails and that her time as Secretary of State coincided with the rise of the Islamic State. (ISIS actually began in 1999.) Again, Trump’s top ad in battleground states focuses on his opponent’s shortcomings, adding to the acrimonious nature of the election.
“Do You Really Need To Ask?” aired 13,479 times, peaking in early October. The biggest markets for the ad were Boston, Denver, Las Vegas and Cedar Rapids. Smaller air totals were found in Tampa, San Francisco, Phoenix, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Raleigh, NC.
3. The Hillary Clinton campaign ad “Silo” reminds voters of Trump’s erratic behavior and the utter lack of appropriate experience he has for the job of president.
“I would bomb the shit out of them.” “I want to be unpredictable.” “I love war.” All Trump quotes that are cut into the ad after Bruce Blair, a former launch officer, talks about the gravity of having usable nuclear weapons. “The thought of Donald Trump with nuclear weapons scares me to death. It should scare everyone,” warns Blair.
Playing off the widely held view that Trump is unfit for office, particularly in light of the awesome military power he would possess, “Silo” aired heavily in swing states.
The ad aired 13,342 times, from early October through the most recently recorded day (Nov. 4), primarily in Phoenix, Las Vegas and Philadelphia. There were also heavy airings in Boston, Raleigh, NC, Cleveland and Cedar Rapids, with fewer showings in Woodbridge, VA, Milwaukee, Denver and San Francisco.