Thursday, August 27, 2020

Trump Campaign Goes Off the Air During Critical Part of Campaign

What is going on?  Trailing badly in the polls with early voting in many states only days away, the re-election campaign of Donald Trump has decided to stop advertising in several battleground states.  Politico reports:

Donald Trump is getting pummeled on the TV airwaves, alarming Republicans and prompting the president’s allies to plead for outside help.  

August has been a blowout: Trump has been outspent on TV more than 2-to-1 over the past month, according to the media tracking firm Advertising Analytics. And in the past two weeks, Joe Biden is outpacing the president more than 5-to-1.

The shortfall comes at a pivotal moment in the campaign, with Biden essentially monopolizing TV advertising in key battlegrounds before the start of early voting. Trump

Jared Kushner

has ceded the airwaves in Michigan and Pennsylvania, where he’s gone dark in August. In Wisconsin, Trump has been outgunned more than 8-to-1.  

The president is not slated to be on the airwaves anywhere during the final week of the month, as Republicans hold their convention.

It’s a jarring turn of events for a reelection effort that has long promoted itself as a financial powerhouse and until recently had a heavy TV presence. And it’s exceedingly rare to see a sitting president go dark so close to an election. But the Trump campaign has seen its long-standing cash advantage over Biden dwindle to just about $20 million, according to the most recent financial disclosures, even as Biden pours money into commercials.

Politico proceeds to report on the Trump campaign's explanation for its strategy:

Trump aides say they have decided to focus their spending on the post-Labor Day final stretch of the campaign and say they see little reason to advertise during the national conventions, which are receiving widespread coverage. Biden’s campaign spent $16 million on TV during his convention week, and is on track to spend more than $14 million during this week’s Republican confab.  

It "makes little sense to blow donor money on ads during convention weeks, when all of the national media is focused on the candidates anyway," said Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh, who argued that Biden's advertising barrage was to designed to compensate for his relatively light public schedule.   

The Trump campaign's explanation for going dark just days away from the beginning of voting in many states makes no sense.   Getting free news coverage is not a reason to stop running campaign commercials.  Just the opposite is true.  Campaign commercials can be used to highlight and emphasize the news coverage people are seeing about the campaign.  Paid and earned media work together by reinforcing the message the campaign wants to get out.

I can only think of two reasons for the Trump campaign going dark during this critical portion of the campaign - it is having money problems (perhaps too many campaign dollrs being redirected to Trump companies?) or the person in charge of Trump's campaign, Jared "The Secretary of Failure" Kushner, has no idea what he is doing.  Probably a combination of both.

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OOP's short takes:

  • Will someone explain to me how removing high-speed sorting machines in favor of postal employees doing hand-sorts helps makes the Postal Service more efficient?  I'm not one of those who blindly worship the Postal Service and think it shouldn't be reformed.  I also think bringing in an outsider to enact reforms is a good idea. But Postmaster General's Louis DeJoy's defense of removing the sorting machines makes no sense.  In fact, he did not have an explanation. 
  • With all due respect to Congresswoman Katie Porter, I don't care that DeJoy doesn't know the cost of mailing a postcard.  We ought to care that significant changes were made to postal services operation and even DeJoy doesn't know who ordered them.  Shouldn't we be investigating that?
  • I think with a different candidate, a "law and order" message might have resonance.  The trouble is Trump, as a man who has open contempt for both the law and order, is the worst possible messenger.
  • Is it too late to cancel the MLB season?  I had such high hopes with the changes to the roster my Reds made this year.  Turns out they still stink.

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