A study has shown that The Lincoln Project’s ads actually had a negative impact, something which I noted on my blog a month ago and at least 6 months ago on the Stellar Parthenon BBS.
As long as I’ve known of the Lincoln Project, I have maintained that it has two purposes:
- Enriching its principals.
- To embrace and extend the Neoliberal capture of the Democratic Party.
It comes as no surprise then that this enterprise actually had negative utility on the matter of delivering votes to the Democratic Party. That was never its purpose:
At various junctures during the 2020 campaign an attack ad would pop online that had observers on Twitter buzzing about how devastating for Donald Trump it would be. Except, more often than not, the ads weren’t effective, at least not for the nominal point of the election: persuading on-the-fence voters to back Joe Biden.
That’s the conclusion the Democratic Party’s top super PAC reached after doing analytical research into a handful of spots that went viral on Twitter.
The PAC, Priorities USA, spent a good chunk of the cycle testing the effectiveness of ads, some 500 in all. And, along the way, they decided to conduct an experiment that could have potentially saved them tons of money. They took five ads produced by a fellow occupant in the Super PAC domain—the Lincoln Project—and attempted to measure their persuasiveness among persuadable swing state voters; i.e. the ability of an ad to move Trump voters towards Joe Biden. A control group saw no ad at all. Five different treatment groups, each made up of 683 respondents, saw one of the five ads. Afterwards they were asked the same post-treatment questions measuring the likelihood that they would vote and who they would vote for.
The idea wasn’t to be petty or adversarial towards the Lincoln Project, which drew both fans and detractors for the scorched-earth spots it ran imploring fellow Republicans to abandon Trump. It was, instead, to see if Twitter virality could be used as a substitute for actual ad testing, which took funds and time. If it turned out that what the Lincoln Project was doing was proving persuasive, the thinking went, then Priorities USA could use Twitter as a quasi-barometer for seeing how strong their own ads were.
But that didn’t turn out to be the case. According to Nick Ahamed, Priorities’ analytics director, the correlation of Twitter metrics—likes and retweets—and persuasion was -0.3, “meaning that the better the ad did on Twitter, the less it persuaded battleground state voters.” The most viral of the Lincoln Project’s ads—a spot called Bounty, which was RTed 116,000 times and liked more than 210,000 times—turned out to be the least persuasive of those Priorities tested.
The Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) and the useful idiots at MSNBC who were so enamored of of these ad campaigns were suckers for a group of con men.
The lesson to be learned here is beware of Republicans bearing gifts.