Many of the leading Election 2016 candidates love to draw lines between themselves and their opponents. Some of the major differences between these candidates – besides their policies – are their campaign strategies.
All of the top Election 2016 candidates try to shape their campaigns to attract different types of voters. Many of these strategies have already proven successful, propelling some of these most popular candidates to the top of the polls. Other leading candidates are adapting to address weaknesses in their campaign strategies.
Here’s a look at the tactics Election 2016 candidates Trump, Cruz, Clinton, and Sanders are using to grab the nomination.
Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump is the most aggressive of the Republican pack. He’s frequently on the attack, yet insists that he only attacks when provoked.
He shares a mutual contempt with the media, but uses it often to his own advantage. Trump’s command of the media is a result of his abrasive, candid personality and deliberate positioning. Whenever the cameras are on, Trump puts on his best show.
Trump gets 25% more media attention than the rest of the GOP field combined, according to the New Analytics Company. Trump has also received more airtime than the entire Democratic field combined, according to The Washington Post.
Trump’s campaign “ads” consist of Instagram videos posted to his Twitter account. And speaking of Twitter, Trump loves the social media platform. He boasts over five million followers on his Twitter handle.
Trump appeals to anti-establishment Republicans frustrated with a lack of action from their elected officials. Trump has spent a nominal $2 million on his campaign, according to an MSNBC report in October. He’s funding his campaign with his own money and donations and has not taken any money from special-interest groups, according to Politico.
Trump frequently boasts about his “great energy” and “stamina,” saying that he averages four hours of sleep per night. He notes that this kind of drive is what is needed in the White House. On Dec. 12, Trump released his health report on Facebook, where his doctor wrote that he would be the “healthiest individual ever to be elected as president.”
Social media and the collective mainstream media have given Trump incredible exposure to voters this election season. And whenever that attention seems to wane, Trump unveils another controversial policy. His most recent one was about temporarily banning Muslims from entering the United States. Minutes after his campaign released this policy, the media’s attention was refocused back on Trump.
Trump relies on ad-hominem attacks to take down his opponents. Consider his “low-energy” epithet he attached to Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush. That seemingly harmless slight stuck with Bush, who has been mired in the single digits in all polls. The media hounds are always eager to lap up Trump’s name-calling. In fact, they helped spread Trump’s low-energy comment about Bush (frequently including it in headlines).
Another example of this strategy was when Trump called Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio a “lightweight.” Trump meant the term to deride Rubio for his youth and political inexperience. Again, it was a seemingly innocuous insult, but one that has stuck with Rubio for most of the Election 2016 race.
Continue reading for an in-depth analysis of the other leading Election 2016 candidates’ campaign tactics.
Campaign Strategies of Other Leading Election 2016 Candidates
Election 2016 Candidate Campaign Strategies: Ted Cruz
Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz has stayed in Trump’s shadow for much of the Election 2016 race. He has remained neutral about many of Trump’s policies, and at times has even publicly supported the front-runner.
Cruz lacks the brazen, dominant appeal of Trump, who draws swarms of intrigued voters to his rallies. But Cruz could scoop up any Trump supporters who dart for a more composed candidate. Cruz appears to be trying to have Trump’s anti-establishment image without all of the controversy.
Cruz’s clandestine approach has allowed him to avoid being publicly targeted by Trump. This, however, is beginning to change as Cruz gains momentum in the polls. A recent Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll had Cruz at 31%, 10 percentage points higher than Trump. Trump has already tweeted negatively about Cruz several times since the poll’s release.
Cruz shines in a debate setting. He is widely considered one of the best speakers and debaters in the Republican field. In fact, he won numerous debate awards while he was at Princeton, according to The National Journal. In the final Republican debate on Dec. 15, Cruz sparred with presidential candidate and fellow senator Marco Rubio over the topic of illegal immigration. Cruz’s oratory skills were tested, but many thought he presented himself well against Rubio, who is also a skilled debater. Cruz, however, did come under fire by many media organizations for citing some allegedly inaccurate statistics. One questionable statistic in particular was about illegal immigrant deportations by past presidents.
One of the major groups Cruz aims to attract is evangelicals, according to Politico. Evangelicals make up 57% Iowa’s GOP caucus voters, according to Breitbart, which is how Cruz plans to win over the state during the primaries. Cruz has formed a “national prayer team,” where those that sign up receive weekly emails from Cruz’s campaign requesting prayers, according to Politico.
Election 2016 Candidate Campaign Strategies: Hillary Clinton
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton doesn’t have to do much to position herself for the Democratic Party nomination. She’s running in a field with two opponents and is already seen by most Democrats as the top Election 2016 candidate for their party. Clinton has double-digit leads in most polls against Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders – who is in second place.
With this in mind, Clinton is already focusing on the White House. Clinton, unlike Trump, loves to talk about policies. Her website lists a total of 24 in-depth policies, ranging from the economy to campus sexual assault. She uses her political experience as one her main selling points. She appeals mostly to moderate Democrats and liberals. As an establishment candidate, Clinton has many super PACs supporting her presidential bid and is well-funded.
One of Clinton’s main problems is her public image. In a Quinnipiac University poll released in August, voters were asked the first word they associated with Clinton. The most popular responses were “liar,” “dishonest,” and “untrustworthy.” Clinton is still receiving negative attention from the private email servers she kept as secretary of state. The aftermath of the 2012 Benghazi Attacks also weigh heavily on Clinton’s reputation.
Clinton has taken several steps to address this problem. She has appeared on “Saturday Night Live,” the “Tonight Show,” and other late-night programs to show her more personable side. Clinton often makes it a point during these shows to poke fun at herself. According The New York Times, Clinton is now planning larger events and backyard parties to showcase her informal side.
Election 2016 Candidate Campaign Strategies: Bernie Sanders
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders started out his campaign with big rallies filled with passionate progressives and liberals. One of his rallies had nearly 20,000 attendees, according to The New York Post. Sanders appeals to voters concerned about wealth and civil inequality in the United States. The self-described democratic socialist has had no trouble capturing the attention of young Americans and the working class. Voters ages 18-29 prefer Sanders over Clinton by 58%, according to a McClatchy-Marist poll in November.
Now, Sanders has shifted his campaign strategy to smaller, more intimate settings. He sees the enthusiasm he built in his campaign’s early stages as lasting, so the small gatherings will be about persuading voters he can win. In addition, Sanders has appeared on shows like the “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” to introduce himself to a broader spectrum of voters.
Sanders, like Trump, has no sanctioned super PACs supporting his presidential bid. He has crowd-funded his entire campaign through his official website.
If he doesn’t snag the Democratic nomination, Sanders is positioning himself well for the vice presidency, many political analysts believe.
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