June 9th, 2016

An Uneasy State of “Grace”


Ace Metrix

New Priorities USA Anti-Trump Ad is Highly Effective Among Target Groups

Supporters of Hillary Clinton have launched a new missile at Donald Trump, and early signs are that the ad is hitting its mark.

The minute-long spot, “Grace,” is part of a $20 million Priorities USA media buy,  and is scheduled for wide release (Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, and New Hampshire.)

Featuring parents of a disabled child with spina bifida, the ad presents Chris and Lauren Glaros describing the blessings their handicapped child brings to their daily lives, and their shock at Trump’s mocking of a disabled reporter.  Lauren comments that “the children at Grace’s school all know never to mock her,” while Chris adds that the candidate’s behavior “showed me his soul, it showed me his heart, and I didn’t like what I saw.”

With Campaign ’16 essentially a race between two highly polarizing and to some, unlikeable, candidates, a #NeverHillary movement has taken root, and these Trump supporters will only dig in their heels in response to an ad such as this.  Our viewer verbatims from some such voters:

  • “This ad is nothing but propaganda. It’s attempting to make Donald Trump look like he hates people who are disabled. The commercial is using the Mainstream Media as its source, which is laughable because the Mainstream Media is very biased against Trump. These kinds of commercials are such an insult to anyone with half of a brain.”
  • “I believe the ad is true. It is unfortunate that a political candidate would make fun of the less fortunate but It also occurs to me that Hillary Clinton would support the parents if they decided to end this child’s life through abortion because of her disability.”
  • “Really stupid ad that takes what Donald Trump says out of context. What Donald says has absolutely zero to do with these people’s kid. For such a stupid ad, I think I am even more likely to vote for Trump.”

However, this ad is not trying to sway these voters.  With a sizeable group of women expressing a strong dislike for Hillary, there remain minds to be made up. Independents in general are also in play, as are Millennials, who were very strong supporters of Sanders and might need convincing to get over their distaste for their prior enemy. According to Republican consultant Rick Wilson, the ad is geared to professionals as well.  And within these groups, “Grace” is resonating.

The ad was the most Attention getting presidential ad of 2016 among women (742), Millennials (756), voters with incomes over $75K (748) – and Independents (715).  This ad drew more attention than the previously released and highly effective (Our Principles PAC) “Quotes,” which featured women reading Trump’s quotes about women.

Voter Group Ace Score Attention Credibility Impact
Independents 550 715 609 37
Millennials (18-35) 631 756 680 37
Women 601 742 653 34
High-Income ($75K+) 595 748 632 40

Grabbing attention is one thing, but to really convince voters, an ad also must be Credible, something at which many PAC-sponsored ads do not excel.  However, “Grace” also boasted the highest Credibility scores of the year among women and Millennials, the 4th highest among high-income voters, and the 7th highest among swing voters.

Not only did this ad make viewers stop and watch, but by using a non-tabloid production featuring real people expressing their experience, it successfully engaged viewers emotionally (similar to “Quotes”), to make voters believe in the message.

But, can this ad actually affect voting behavior?  At Ace Metrix, we measure the Impact an ad has upon voters by asking the question, “How does this ad change the likelihood that you will vote for this candidate?”  Based on a sliding scale from 1-100, a score of 50 indicates no real influence either way.  Negative/attack ads will often see Impact scores well below 50, meaning the ad influenced voters to be less likely to vote for the subject candidate.

“Grace” had its strongest negative Impact among women, and Millennials. “Grace” came in at #11 among all 310 political ads aired in 2016 on Impact among voters aged 18-35 (Impact: 37), many of whom are still yearning for Bernie and need to be convinced to vote for another candidate.  Among women (Impact: 34), it came in as the 15th highest.

So yes, this ad just might change a few of those undecided minds.  What remains to be seen is not only what the Trump-supporting PACs will respond with, but whether either of the candidates will get back to telling voters what they plan to do if they indeed do get elected as President of the United States. Our data shows that messages with concrete ideas and plans are what resonate strongest with viewers.




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