Here’s What Experts Are Saying About Clinton’s Advertising Strategy

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter
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Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton appears confident in her ability to win two of the most pivotal swing states in the country – so much so she pulled television advertisements at the start of August – leaving some questioning whether it is premature for her to be so self-assured in winning Virginia and Colorado.

The pause in ad buys was made public shortly after GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump took a hit in the polls following a number of controversial statements critics dubbed political blunders. This gave the former first lady an edge in the polls, which several experts say prompted the Democratic presidential hopeful to change her line of attack.

The Clinton camp’s transparency about pulling the ads was a controlled decision meant to deliver a message, according to a partner at a large Republican consulting firm who requested anonymity.

“She doesn’t have to pay for the ads until the week before, so take it as a signal, she’s trying to make a public signal about the fact that she’s polling that well that she’s cancelling them now,” the source told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Who is that signal intended for? Is it going to be intended for the press, saying ‘I’m so far ahead I’m not even competing,’ that’s one signal. Signal number two could to super PACs and everyone else she can’t talk to individually saying, ‘Hey, I’m pulling out, you probably shouldn’t be spending much there either.'”

Clinton is being strategic in how she allocates her funds after reviewing internal polling data, allowing the campaign to focus on contentious battle ground states like Pennsylvania, Arizona and Georgia, according to Gary Nordlinger, president of political consulting firm Nordlinger Associates and adjunct professor at George Washington University’s school of political management.

“You can go back on the air as easily as you pulled off the air when you have highly defined candidates like Secretary Clinton or Mr. Trump, keeping advertising is not particularly effective,” he told TheDCNF. “It might be more effective in driving your base out to vote – she’s probably thinking I’ll spend my money closer to the elections when it is more effective.”

Despite Clinton’s remarkably low favorability rating, experts say she has been successful in attracting key demographics thus far.

“They [the Clinton campaign] would not be pulling out unless they have seen multiple indicators that this one is currently safe, it could swing back – but right now spending additional money won’t gain you anything,” Nordlinger told TheDCNF.

“Those people are probably thinking to themselves ‘we’ve already gotten all the females in the suburbs, we’ve already gotten all the moderate Republicans that live in Northern Virginia, this isn’t moving anymore – all that’s left are hard Republicans that would never vote for Hillary.’ There’s no one else to get, which is astounding, it really shows the state of this campaign,” the source continued.

In comparison, the source said the Trump campaign is going to have to be a lot more tactical if it wants a shot at winning in November. The candidate has yet to spend one dollar on television ads since primary season.

“I don’t believe that Trump’s campaign is thinking at all strategically. I don’t think they are having the conversations you have about the electoral map, I don’t think that’s happening,” the source said. “I don’t where the money is going – they theoretically had a big raise in July, so shouldn’t you be going and booking ads?”

But Nordlinger said the race isn’t over yet. He noted that despite Trump’s primary opponents dumping large amounts of money into ads ahead of the general, he still managed to win the nomination largely due to his ability to generate media buzz.

“Trump has clearly had a tough two or three weeks, but you know, the presidential debate on Sept. 26 could play a major factor,”  Nordlinger told TheDCNF. “I think particularly after 2008, Hillary Clinton is way too smart to be counting her chickens before they hatch.”

“Eighty-plus days is an eternity in an election,” he added. “You cannot rule the guy out, take a look at Hillary Clinton’s negatives, who knows what kind of emails will come out as I say eighty plus days is an eternity in an election.”

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