FWIW: She’s got a plan

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.

The Iowa Caucuses are less than two weeks away, and depending on the day, polls have been all over the place. Next Friday we’ll have a final, in-depth analysis of the online battle for Iowa, but before we start plowing through the calendar of primaries and caucuses, we wanted to take another candidate-specific deep dive – this time into Elizabeth Warren’s campaign. LFG. 

But first…

Launching next week!

Next Thursday we’re launching The Senate FYI, a brand new newsletter tracking the digital battle for control of the U.S. Senate. Each week, we’ll break down digital spending in the most competitive Senate races and spotlight the issues or narratives that are trending around the country. FWIW, the Senate is flippable in 2020. Be one of the first to subscribe here, and watch your inbox for our first issue dropping next week.

2020, by the numbers

Donald Trump’s re-election campaign has spent over $36.3 million on Facebook + Google since the 2018 midterm elections. His campaign unveiled plans for a new organizing app in development this week, despite potential opponents like Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders already having their own supporter engagement tech in place for months.

On the Democratic side, Michael Bloomberg spent more on Facebook + Google last week than any campaign has ever spent in a seven-day period. 

The vast majority of his ads on Youtube are biographical and aimed at introducing himself to voters, and on Facebook he’s promoting his own candidacy with ads on issues ranging from vaping, to gun violence and climate change. As far as we can tell, only about 5,300, or 13%, of his ~39,000 Facebook ads mention ‘Trump.’

Here’s last week’s spending totals compared to the rest of the field. 

As the primaries are finally (and fast) approaching, the leading candidates are flooding voters’ news feeds in Iowa and the other early states with positive news stories and persuasive, emotional video ads making their case:

Although the race is neck and neck, the WSJ pointed out today that the candidates are saving their attacks for Trump. FWIW, here are the top spenders on Facebook + Google last week. 

…and here’s total candidate spending on Snapchat so far this cycle:

Deep Dive: She’s got a plan

From the start, Elizabeth Warren’s campaign has relied on digital strategy, organizing, and investment to propel her campaign to top-tier status. She launched her campaign with Obama digital guru Joe Rospars as her Chief Strategist, and the campaign has taken an all-of-the-above approach to online engagement. From selling merch, to sharing selfies, *hundreds of plans*, pics of Bailey, and beers with Bruce, the Warren campaign has been *very online* from the get-go.

Although she’s recently been lagging in the polls, she’s been down before, and with positive noise around the NYT endorsement earlier this week we’re not counting her out just yet. Alex Thompson at POLITICO also noted today that after Bloomberg, she likely has the largest campaign staff in the field – over 1,000 staffers across the country.     

Ad Spending

Since launch, the Warren campaign has consistently been a top-tier spender on Facebook and Google advertising, totaling over $10 million spent since launching her campaign. That’s twice as much as the Biden campaign, and about the same as the Sanders team. 

Here’s some of their keywords in ads on Facebook:

Call Time 🤳

Regardless of the outcome of this primary, Elizabeth Warren’s campaign has introduced several new tactics that will very likely become a staple of modern digital campaigns. Above all else, her authentic, fun, sometimes emotional small donor call-time videos are a genius tactic for raising money on sites like Facebook. Expect these to be used up and down the ballot moving forward:

Snapchat + Instagram 📸

A clear part of her strategy has been to target liberal, younger voters and voters of color on platforms they use the most. More than most, her campaign has done a great job at using video ads on platforms like Snapchat and Instagram to reach that critical demographic. 

Only a handful of presidential candidates have spent much money on Snapchat, but Warren’s team has continued to use the platform to reach young African American supporters (among other groups) with ads around gun violence prevention, white nationalism, and criminal justice reform. Last month, we pointed out their campaign was targeting students at specific HBCU’s on Snapchat. 


…and lastly, like Bernie and Biden, the Warren campaign *does* have a mobile app for organizing supporters, which is a mobile version of their ‘All In For Warren’ site. That said, it’s somewhat clunkier and harder to use than those of her competitors. 

BONUS: Tired of the tweets

Shameless plug alert: As part of its #FourIsEnough digital advertising campaign, our affiliated political action committee PACRONYM has launched a new set of videos highlighting local voices of Americans exhausted by the President’s chaotic behavior. Give em’ a watch + a RT below:


That’s all for FWIW this week! But before you go, we have one more ask of you! We’re trying to recruit the best + brightest to join our team, so if you know any talented, passionate geniuses, send them our way! Oh, and forward this email to a friend, and follow us on Twitter!

Originally posted on Another Acronym. Re-posted with permission.

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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