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With Trump Running ‘Unopposed’ in Pa., Democratic Groups Spend Millions on Ads to Counterattack

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Donald Trump Make America Great | With Trump Running ‘Unopposed’ in Pa., Democratic Groups Spend Millions on Ads to Counterattack | Featured

Feb. 20–The Democrats running for president are mostly focused on each other, with their campaigning and advertising largely concentrated in whichever state holds the next Democratic primary.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump is free to hold rallies and run ads in key states including Pennsylvania expected to decide the 2020 election.

He’s running “unopposed,” as the experts put it, and that’s a big disadvantage for Democrats.

With a half-dozen Democrats having a plausible shot at becoming the Democrat nominee and that scenario potentially extending for months, it’s likely Trump won’t lose the advantage anytime soon.

With that in mind, a pair of Democrat-supporting super PACs are trying to offset the advantage, buying millions of dollars worth of ads in Pennsylvania and a small handful of other swing states.

One of them, American Bridge, this week announced $10 million worth of ad buys in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, with the Pennsylvania ads beginning Wednesday in more rural parts of the state.

A similar group, Priorities USA, recently announced a campaign of ads in those three states as well as Florida and Arizona. The campaign will include TV commercials and digital ads on platforms such as YouTube, Hulu and Pandora.

Priorities USA noted Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee have hundreds of millions to spend on ads and “it is imperative that they do not have the airwaves to themselves before a Democratic nominee is selected.”

American Bridge said its effort will have a special focus on rural, working class voters in Pennsylvania. That includes TV spots featuring a Pennsylvania voter who voted for Trump and says he won’t do so again.

“With a wide-open Democratic field and a potentially months-long nominating process, we need to take the fight to Donald Trump right now. We will continue to elevate the voices of local voters hurt by the president’s failed policies and broken promises and up the ante to deny Donald Trump the swing-state margins he needs in 2020,” American Bridge President Bradly Beychok said in a news release.

The news release also said, “Over the past months, American Bridge has undertaken a massive and unprecedented effort to strategically target the voters Donald Trump needs most in battleground states.”

Beginning in November, American Bridge had already spent about $4 million on TV, radio and digital ads in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. It boasted that in 2019 it outspent Trump’s campaign and super PAC in the three states.Trump’s total margin of victory in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan was only about 80,000 out of 14 million cast, as he narrowly flipped the three states which had long histories of supporting Democrats for president.

The two political organizations say their research shows working class voters can be swayed against Trump by focusing on his handling of the economy, health care, Medicare and Social Security, and by highlighting what they call Trump’s “broken promises.”

In 2016, Trump won Pennsylvania by about 44,292 votes — less than one percent — out of about 6.2 million cast.

“We don’t have to win all of these voters back. We don’t even have to win a majority of these voters back,” American Bridge political director Sacha Haworth told POLITICO. “We just need to be able to peel off enough of his supporters within this swath of voters to deny him the White House in 2020.”

Meanwhile, Trump’s campaign believes there are Pennsylvania voters inclined to supporting Trump who didn’t vote in 2016. It is working to reach and sway them with highly-sophisticated tactics, much of it involving social media. The Trump campaign has received much attention for its practice of requiring people who attend his rallies to register and provide cellphone and email contact information, enabling the campaign to target them with ads or contact them directly through election day.

His campaign also uses rallies to find unregistered voters and sign them up.

Priorities USA said it plans to spend $150 million on ads in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Florida prior to the Democratic National Convention, which begins July 13 in Milwaukee.

That includes $5.9 million in TV ads in Pennsylvania beginning March 17.

More from PennLive

When it comes to Pennsylvania politics, we should be addicted to hope — John Baer

Listen to the latest episode of PennLive’s new political podcast Battleground Pa. on your favorite app including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Podcasts. Battleground Pa. examines the changing political climate across the state leading up to November 2020.

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