February 08, 2016

“Nothing brings America together like…Bud Light.” Super Bowl 50 ads brought us some good laughs. And as we gear up for the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, we’d like to share our take on a few of the candidates’ latest political ads. 


Voters are responding more positively to optimistic messaging – they’re tired of the doom and gloom – but well-executed, pointed, attack ads are resonating too. Check out our analysis and voter dial responses to the ads below.







Chris Christie, "Strong and Clear," Grade: A

Christie’s ads and debate performances continually resonate with voters. He was on message, on point, and direct. But more than a few voters told us they’re sick of hearing him talk about being a prosecutor. He needs to bring more depth to the conversation and translate his strengths to better performance in the polls. 




Bernie Sanders, "America," Grade: A

An atypical ad for an atypical candidate. Sanders’ ad didn’t have any words, but voters said it “spoke for itself.” It’s one of the best ads we’ve tested from the Democrats all season. It’s optimistic, inspiring, and uplifting – and even critics said, “It made me want to like him.” 




Donald Trump, "Clear Difference," Grade: B

Trump has made some harder-hitting attacks throughout the campaign. This wasn’t his best – but he could certainly write a book called The Art of the Attack. He knows how to hit his opponents where it hurts. And as we’ve seen, Trump fans are hardcore. They reframed what could have been seen as a really negative ad, saying he’s “believable and passionate about what he wants to do.” 




Marco Rubio, "Good Deal," Grade: C

Endorsements can make a difference, but “that guy from Pawn Stars” didn’t move the needle for Rubio. Though Rubio’s ad was positive and didn’t bash the other candidates, it just didn’t work with voters, who were wary of a celebrity telling them who to vote for. 





Jeb Bush, "Jobs," Grade: C

Voters were dialing this ad up…until Jeb appeared on screen, and then they went back to neutral. His message may have been on point, but as a candidate, he’s just not inspiring voters.




Ted Cruz, "Cruz Commander," Grade: D

Voters were more supportive of Phil Robertson than Ted Cruz. And it reminded one voter of the Dick Cheney hunting snafu. That’s the problem here: what message are voters supposed to take away? What does this ad reveal about Ted Cruz? The ad did okay with Republicans, but it turned off Independents – and Cruz will need that support in the primary states where they can vote.




Hillary Clinton, "Real Progress Now," Grade: D

Hillary’s ad may be about “real progress,” but she framed everything in the negative. Voters found her rhetoric “harsh” and somewhat at odds with the “caring-for-you” camera shots. Both Democrats and Independents dialed her ad down. To muster new support, she’ll need to change her tone. Even a simple re-phrase can make a difference. Voters respond better to forward-looking statements like, “imagine a world where…” than “these ideas will never make it in the real world…” 



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