Like Paul, I’m puzzled why House Dems seem to think “investigating Trump” and “health care messaging” is some kind of zero-sum game. Part of this, I would guess, is the retrospective tautology narratives that develop after every election. You know the drill: 1)political campaigns are like tennis matches where outcomes are determined by the actions of the players, 2)therefore the losing candidate must have run a worse campaign that their opponent, and 3)everything the losing candidate did was therefore bad tactically and/or strategically. But of course, elections are not like one-on-one sporting events but complex events in which the identity of the candidates and the choices they make have only a marginal influence, and it is silly to assume that because a candidate lost everything that candidate did was suboptimal.
With respect to 2016, a lot of Dems seem to have bought this kind of syllogism from the Hot Take Industrial Complex: 1)Clinton’s ad campaign was mostly negative ads about Trump; 2)Clinton lost [an election in which almost everybody was vastly over-certain about her winning]; 3)therefore going negative against Trump doesn’t work. The problem is that it isn’t true:
In our book, @vavreck, Tesler, and I showed that HRC’s ad buys at the media market level were positively correlated with her county-level vote share, controlling for Obama’s vote share in ’12, Obama and Romney’s ad buys, and a variety of other factors.https://t.co/mwhHsH5rV7— John Sides (@johnmsides) February 17, 2020
For more on these experiments, see @vavreck, @seth_j_hill, and @aecoppock: https://t.co/lTXXmumPwR
Of course, the effects are arguably not large, but that is typical for televised advertising in presidential general elections.— John Sides (@johnmsides) February 17, 2020
Hitting Trump hard with a candidate who has higher personal approval ratings and gets more fairly treated by the media — bars that would be almost impossible not to clear — is a perfectly sound strategy! It would be very unwise not to talk about Trump being a deranged lifelong crook because Clinton lost. And as I’ve said before and surely will again, Identity Crisis is absolutely critical reading if you want to understand the 2016 elections.
In related news, Bloomberg’s money is a big reason why he’s getting traction, but it’s also true that the content of his ads had been very shrewd, and the other candidates have left an opening by spending a lot more time debating the minute details of legislative plans that have a 0% chance of being enacted by the next Congress than talking about how terrible Trump is.
[PC]: Check out Will Stancil’s thread on this (h/t eli b.)