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Brian Mark Weber / Oct. 2, 2020

Teflon Trump Not Damaged by Attack Ads

Try as they might, leftists and disgruntled "conservatives" can't seem to ding him.

There’s always a lot of Monday-morning quarterbacking the day after a presidential debate. Everyone has a strong opinion about who won, who lost, and whether any minds were changed. But we all knew what the so-called political experts would conclude: Donald Trump is rude, aggressive, and unpresidential.

Ho-hum. Tell us something we haven’t heard before.

After all, these are the same “experts” who said Trump couldn’t win in 2016. And they’re pulling out the same playbook again in 2020.

Yet Americans are real people living with real problems. They don’t care much for eloquence in a president if they can’t pay their bills or walk safely down the street. And no political pundit will convince them otherwise.

That’s why Trump was the real debate winner.

No matter the issue, Trump was able to claim credit for getting things done, and he looked strong (if too obnoxious) while doing it. All Joe Biden could muster is “I’m not Trump.” And whenever Trump pushed him for details, the former vice president balked, stammered, and obfuscated.

Even worse, Biden called the sitting president of the United States a “racist,” a “clown,” and told him to “shut up.” Now that’s unpresidential.

Since Democrats have nothing to offer, it’s no wonder that groups like The Lincoln Project push ads that are nothing more than scurrilous personal attacks on Trump. These ads generate broad support and enthusiasm on the Left, but do they work in convincing Main Street voters to consider the Democrat alternative?

Vox’s Peter Kafka writes that some Democrats think “the Lincoln Project is at best a sideshow, doing things other campaigns have done and are doing that will have minimal impact on the 2020 election.” Kafka adds that some Democrats worry that the “project isn’t really meant to help Democrats but to do something else. Though they don’t know what that is.”

Doesn’t seem like a winning strategy.

Moreover, Vanity Fair’s Peter Hamby writes about another outfit called Fellow Americans that was “launched without public fanfare in early 2020 to develop a data-driven testing model for campaign ad making — to prove which messages actually move the needle against President Trump with important groups of voters.”

According to Hamby, there’s only one problem: “Ads that directly attack Trump, using his voice, news clips, or even just his face, have the effect of turning off not only persuadable voters, but also the Democratic-base voters whom Joe Biden needs in November.”

This is why the anti-Trump attacks ads don’t seem to be working for Democrats. It’s one thing to attack your opponent. After all, politics ain’t bean bag. It’s another thing if you have nothing to offer voters yourself. On any of the big issues, Biden clearly doesn’t have a plan — not a realistic one that isn’t chock-full of transparently unbelievable “free stuff” anyway. All he’s got is the tired old “I’m not the other guy” schtick and a few attack ads.

If 2020 turns out anything like 2016, Democrats may wish they had actually come up with some ideas instead of focusing on empty and infective attacks on Trump while running from their own record.

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