By Michael Bastasch
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a Washington, D.C. audience that one reason she failed to effectively communicate with voters in key states because her campaign was so focused on policy.
However, a major study that looked at 2016 election ads found Clinton ran the least policy-focused campaign this century.
“I was not as adept or as quick to try and figure what is a better way for me to communicate,” Clinton said at an event at the bookstore Politics and Prose on Monday as part of the tour for her new book “What Happened.”
Clinton’s not alone in this belief. Conventional wisdom holds that Clinton ran a more substantive campaign, as opposed to the bombastic Donald Trump who had a more emotional appeal.
“You think you’re running one kind of campaign and you realize that the press is not covering the policy you’re putting out every day,” Clinton said. “They’re covering an empty podium.”
However, the conventional wisdom is wrong, according to a Wesleyan University study released in March. Researchers found that when it came to advertizing, the Trump campaign was more policy-focused than Clinton’s team.
Researchers with the Wesleyan Media Project looked at 2016 campaign ads aired from early June to election day, and they found more than half of Clinton campaign ads focused on the former First Lady’s positive personal qualities or Trump’s negative qualities.
Only about one-quarter of Clinton’s ads were policy-focused, compared to more than 70 percent of Trump’s ads. Only about 10 percent of Trump’s ads focused on personality traits of either candidate.
A little more than 10 percent of Clinton’s ads focused on both policy and personal traits, while around 15 percent of Trump ads focused on the same.
In fact, Clinton’s campaign ads were the least policy focused of any major presidential candidate so far in the 21st Century.
“Clinton’s message was devoid of policy discussions in a way not seen in the previous four presidential contests,” researchers reported in their study.
The study also found that “Clinton’s unexpected losses came in states in which she failed to air ads until the last week,” including Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Despite Clinton’s “overwhelming dominance of advertising” she failed to hit voters in key swing states and didn’t focus on her policies, which Trump did, according to the study.
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