As part of our 2020 election strategy, America’s Voice has conducted polling in five target states including (1) North Carolina, (2) Texas, (3) Georgia, (4) Florida, and (5) Arizona. The purpose of the polling is to determine how candidates, campaigns, and other advocacy groups should discuss the issue of immigration with persuadable voters in swing states.
Our 2020 election ad campaign is a series of Facebook ads designed to test the messaging our polling suggested would be the most effective in these states to provide our trainees with tangible ideas for how to run ads and talk to voters.
We ran a total of 5 ads in North Carolina, with language testing on three. Our messaging was based off of a general poll prepared by GSG with our North Carolina toplines and benchmark. These polls suggested that a message of unity around the pandemic with real policy solutions would move voters to the left. Voters cared most about the pandemic and rejected racist rhetoric, especially if it was perceived as scapegoating as a means of avoiding policy solutions.
Our test audience is somewhat left-leaning voters in North Carolina, ages 18-65. We did not narrow down any additional testing based on location or gender, but there is evidence in our polling that women in non-rural areas would find these ads most appealing.
The purpose of this ad was to create a predominantly negative narrative around how Senator Tillis has handled the pandemic and to associate his policies with Donald Trump.
“Americans need healthcare, a strong economy, and real safety measures during the pandemic. Instead of finding solutions, Senator Tillis has used xenophobic and racist messaging to divide our state. Vote Senator Tillis out this November.”
This ad did well for several reasons. While it was a negative ad about a candidate, it did not inherently attack the candidate’s character and rather focused on the fact that there are many issues Americans are facing due to the pandemic that Tillis has not acted on. This ad did not dwell on immigration policy, but tied in our ultimate objectives with the bigger picture at hand. This is in line with our state findings which suggest Americans are focused on the pandemic, are rejecting scapegoating, and want real solutions.
Other factors which should be weighed include the fact that this ad was bright and aesthetically pleasing. It was also short and easy to understand without much policy background.
All of Us
The purpose of this ad was to create a predominantly positive feeling of unity around the pandemic, and to call on voters to reject racist scapegoating many GOP candidates have employed.
“America is strongest when we work together. It’s time to stop the racist and xenophobic rhetoric from politicians like Senator Tillis. Vote together this November and vote Senator Tillis out.”
This ad was a close second to our “Magic Ad.” It is also a predominantly positive message that focuses on unity above GOP division and distraction. It does not mention the pandemic specifically, but it was designed to associate the election with the crisis. Our polling also suggested that voters in North Carolina responded well to messages of banning together to beat this pandemic, which is likely why this ad did well.
Again other factors to consider include that this ad was short, colorful, and optimistic.
The purpose of this ad was to combine the narrative that Senator Tillis has attacked immigrants during the pandemic when many immigrant workers are essential to keeping us afloat during the crisis.
“Immigrant workers are working hard to fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. But Trump and Senator Tillis are trying to deport immigrants and keep them out of the country. They want us to think immigrants are bad for America, so we won’t think about how bad Republicans are at their jobs. Don’t be fooled.”
This ad was incredibly straightforward and the only graphic we tested. Although it was still focused on immigration policy, it was clearly designed to make voters think of healthcare and the pandemic, which is likely why it did better than our other ads that focused more on immigration policy.
Because this ad is a graphic, it is possible that it had a higher number of impressions simply because people did not have to watch it until the end.
What’s on the Ballot?
The purpose of this ad was to create a predominantly negative feeling towards the incumbent and mention DACA specifically and family separation, the issues that poll most positively in immigration.
“Senator Tillis has done nothing to stop Trump’s cruel and inhumane immigration policies like family separation or the termination of DACA. It’s time to vote out senators who support policies rooted in xenophobia and racism. Vote Senator Tillis out this November.”
This ad did poorly for reasons that are not completely clear. However, it was also our most “policy-heavy” ad in that it not only mentioned immigration, but got more into the policy weeds of what exactly is at stake. This was also our most negative ad and did not focus on the pandemic at all, which could be a contributing factor to its somewhat lower performance.
It should also be noted that this ad was not as colorful or upbeat, which could have caused it to suffer in the algorithm.
Attacking Immigrants During a Pandemic
Like the graphic above, this was a negative ad which sought to tie immigrant labor to combating the effects of the pandemic. It was an attack ad that focused on immigration policy and called for unity.
“We’re going to get through Covid-19 — but only if we look out for one another. Instead of fighting for all communities, Senator Tillis has been running ugly, anti-immigrant ads that demonize our neighbors. This fall, say NO to Senator Tillis.”
This was our least successful ad. Although it focused on unity during the pandemic, it did not focus on concrete policy results to solve the crisis. Instead it called for Tillis to stop attacking immigrants, which might have been a more popular message if it wasn’t the sole attack.
This ad did not include music which could have suppressed it in the algorithm.