FWIW: Impeach Facebook

7 mins read

Welcome to FWIW, ACRONYM’s weekly newsletter breaking down digital strategy and investments across the political spectrum. Each week, we look at how campaigns are – or aren’t – leveraging smart digital strategies to drive narratives and win elections.

For what it’s worth, some of it might surprise you.

It’s been one month since news of the impeachment inquiry broke 🎂, and outside groups on the left and the right have launched new ad campaigns to target swing state voters and vulnerable members of Congress from both parties on Facebook. How is the digital battle for impeachment playing out on Facebook? We take a look in this week’s FWIW.   

But first…

2020 by the numbers

Donald Trump’s re-election campaign has now spent over $25.5 million on Facebook + Google advertising since the 2018 midterm elections. Last Sunday, the New York Times looked at what that massive spending means, and Democratic digital Twitter nearly exploded. 👀  At any rate, his campaign’s digital spending has decreased significantly after a massive anti-impeachment surge last month. 

You can find these charts + more at our FWIW digital spending dashboard here.

Pretty unbelievably, Tom Steyer spent over $1 million on Facebook and Google ads last week. 🤦🏻‍♂️That spike in spending coincided with his big debate stage debut. Pete Buttigieg also spent significantly more than usual last week – but we know it wasn’t on moisturizer

Other Democratic candidates spent their internet time on the Washington Post’s TikTok account, including Beto O’Rourke and Andrew Yang. Way to engage the youths, guys. 

Facebook made some changes to its Ad Transparency database this week, including the ability to filter between ads running on Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger.  🙌 We shared some of our initial thoughts on Twitter

Oh yeah, and I guess we have to note that Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan dropped out of the race yesterday. 🤐

Here are the top political spenders on Facebook + Google from October 13th to 19th:

On Facebook, Penzeys spices continued promoting their bizarrely long pro-impeachment Facebook post from their CEO 🌶 ️. Meanwhile, Priorities USA Action spent heavily on GOTV (get-out-the-vote) ads for local elections in multiple states.

Deep Dive: The Facebook impeachment fight heats up 🔥

It’s been exactly a month since news of the impeachment inquiry broke. While the President’s massive online advertising campaign seems to have subsided for now, outside groups on the right and left have been ramping up new Facebook ad campaigns to pressure members of Congress, mobilize the grassroots, persuade swing voters, and raise money. Here’s how it’s playing out:

In the past two weeks, groups on the left have begun to ramp up their Facebook ad spending + overall online engagement in support of impeachment. 

Groups like IndivisibleStand Up America, and MoveOn have taken the lead to engage their grassroots members and followers across the country to take both online and offline action in support of the impeachment inquiry. Indivisible has even launched a daily web show explaining the impeachment process to their members. 👏

Meanwhile ACRONYM and Need to Impeach have launched online ad blitzes targeting swing state audiences and applying pressure to specific members of Congress. ⤵️

On the right, several pro-Trump PACs have also popped up Facebook ad campaigns to defend the president and target vulnerable members of Congress (and even hit Mitt Romney). Here’s a 30-day snapshot of outside spending from anti-impeachment groups on Facebook:

Fringe right-wing group Judicial Watch isn’t exclusively spending their ad dollars on impeachment, but they are running a bunch of supporter acquisition ads on the issue and calling for an investigation of Adam Schiff. BUT Pro-Trump PAC America First Policies is running a much more serious, targeted ad campaign on Facebook opposing impeachment, including these in Florida registering new anti-impeachment voters:

The Presidential Coalition, a group founded by disgraced self-dealing Trump friend David Bossie, is apparently back in Trump’s good graces and has launched a new round of advertising this week – pushing Pro-Trump and anti-impeachment ads to voters in Virginia, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, among other states. 

And the Republican party establishment groups are leaning heavily into the issue and clearly coordinating messaging – using “Shifty Adam Schiff” as a punching bag to target freshman Democrats in swing House districts. A month on, we’re glad they finally all settled on a message strategy 😂, but somehow we don’t think this is it…

🚨 BONUS: Candidates in the Commonwealth 🔥

Virginia’s critically important General Assembly elections are just 11 days away, and the 2020 Democratic candidates for president are flying in to do their part in the final days before Virginians head to the polls. So far, Beto O’Rourke, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, and Pete Buttigieg have all done their part in highlighting and campaigning for VA down-ballot candidates.

One more thing… ➡️🤳 

That’s all for this week. But before you go, we have one more ask of you! ⚡️ If you enjoy reading FWIW each week, you’ll love the new #FWIWPod. Help us grow our following + spread the word! Forward this email to a few friends, and click below to listen to Episode 1 of the new FWIW podcast! 🎙🔥 Stay tuned for Episode 2, dropping next Thursday  👀

P.S. You can find this and other issues of FWIW here and read this week’s edition of FWIW Virginia at this link.

DemCast is an advocacy-based 501(c)4 nonprofit. We have made the decision to build a media site free of outside influence. There are no ads. We do not get paid for clicks. If you appreciate our content, please consider a small monthly donation.

ACRONYM is a nonprofit organization committed to building power and digital infrastructure for the progressive movement.

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