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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Reactions to the Anti-Trump Ad

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the issue's role in presidential campaigns.   In this campaign, a number of posts have discussed Trump's support for the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism.  He also has a bad record on disability issues more generally -- including his shameful mockery of a disabled journalist.

A previous post showed an ad highlighting this incident.  More reactions:

Greg Sargent at The Washington Post:
The ad is running in seven swing states — Ohio, Virginia, Florida, Colorado, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Iowa — and it’s backed by a $4 million buy for its first week, as part of a broader $20 million buy between now and the conventions.
Note that this ad doesn’t merely show footage of Trump mocking the reporter. It shows a family with a disabled daughter discussing how hurt and shocked they were to see him abusing someone with a similar disability.
The spot is another sign that Democrats think they can render Trump unacceptably toxic before a general election audience by relentlessly spotlighting his profound cruelty — as displayed by Trump himself. This strain runs through much of the evolving Democratic critique of Trump and, more broadly, of Trumpism. In one early tell, the Clinton campaign released a web video recapping footage of Trump calling for mass deportations and a ban on Muslims, and linking those to his vow to revive torture and take out terrorists’ families. More recently, Elizabeth Warren’s big speech pillorying Trump focused hard on his suggestion that he relished making a profit off a housing crash, but crucially, she argued that his own quotes revealed his cruel, cavalier attitude towards the millions of people who would be badly hurt by it.
Sarah McCammon at NPR:
Whether or not these ads persuade voters to cast ballots for the Democratic nominee, they can have another effect. Some political science research suggests that well-timed and well-crafted negative ads may be effective in reducing turnout among would-be supporters of the candidate who is attacked.
"Everything we do is designed to do both. Obviously it's a negative ad, so this is more about defining Trump than turnout amongst Democrats," Priorities spokesman [Justin] Barasky said. "You can't do one without the other."
He said they are "under no illusion that Republicans are going to cross over and vote for Hillary Clinton" in large numbers. But the superPAC believes that some Republican voters, as well as a substantial number of independents, are "troubled by the things that Donald Trump has said and done throughout the course of his campaign and his career" and could be persuaded, at minimum, to abstain from casting a ballot for him. 
Eric Levitz at New York:
The fact that Priorities USA has decided to focus its early anti-Trump messaging on his misogyny and apparent mockery of the disabled signals the Democrats' desire to play for a landslide: For the party's base, Trump's racist statements and discriminatory policies are likely more salient than his imitation of Kovaleski's arm. But white suburban women who lean Republican may find his sexism and cruelty toward the physically infirm more discomfiting. Or so Trump's Republican rivals seem to have thought.
Steve Benen at MSNBC:
Democrats no doubt understand that they need to avoid a garbled, overly complicated message. They don’t necessarily need a bite-sized label like “Little Marco” or “Lying Ted,” but if Dems try to pitch voters on the idea that Trump is an unprepared, dishonest, racist ignoramus with ugly controversies in his personal and professional life, who’ll endanger the country with misguided ideas about the economy and foreign policy, it might not resonate. Effective messaging needs to be more focused.
And so the Priorities USA ad suggests Democrats will go in a more straightforward direction, effectively making the case that Trump is a bad person who says and does monstrous things.