Can Targeted Digital Content Sap Trump’s Battleground-State Support?


Top Photo: This time, precise targeting was just a test.

Regular readers know that I’ve been advocating for Democrats to launch long-term persuasion campaigns to reach people inside the Fox/Limbaugh/Breitbart bubble. Absent field outreach, paid advertising or the intervention of a friend, most white voters in the kind of environment I grew up in (East Texas) won’t encounter a progressive idea in an undistorted state in the course of their everyday lives. Democrats don’t get the chance to make their case, much less seal the deal.

In this week’s Campaigns & Elections column, I look at work by Priorities USA and American Bridge to use hyper-local content and good targeting to answer the millions of dollars the Trump campaign has already spent online to rile up his base voters this year. The two Democratic PACs will reach out in battleground states, in part to rural areas, and will highlight the local effects of Trump policies via news stories, video testimonials from peers of the targeted voters and other content designed to peel off Trump’s support at the edges.

No Democratic campaign or organization can truly make up the huge advantage a captive (and closed) media environment creates for Republicans, but Priorities and American Bridge are at least trying to make sure that Trump’s campaign doesn’t go unchallenged in battleground states between now and the Democratic convention. Of course, if an Elizabeth Warren or Joe Biden wraps things up earlier than expected, they might be free to dive into digital persuasion as early as next spring.

Still, breaking people out of the bubble takes time — years instead of months of consistent and repeated contact — and no one on the Democratic side seems to be planning in those terms. But if the Left continues to let Fox and Friends set the tone of political discourse unanswered in Trump country, we’ll keep getting whupped in state-level elections across the nation. For more, read the C&E piece about Priorities USA and American Bridge, then check out my earlier exploration of a model for long-term persuasion in hostile territory. Let me know what you think.

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