Study Finds Lincoln Project Ads Were Hilariously Ineffective


The Lincoln Project was one of the hottest stories of the campaign season. If you didn’t believe it, just ask them.

The group of former Republican operatives who made sure you all knew they were Very Concerned about President Donald Trump was the go-to story of the campaign season for media types looking for conservatives who were dissatisfied with Trump. Nominally led by strangely married shuffling cadaver George Conway (and a few other anti-Trump grifters) before his daughter’s TikTok activity led him to step away, The Lincoln Project’s TV ads were everywhere during the campaign season.

Not that they made a difference, apparently.

According to The Daily Beast, “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 Daily Beast reported Wednesday.

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“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.”

But who wouldn’t have been persuaded by stuff like this?

Reed Galen with The Lincoln Project “didn’t dispute the conclusions.”

“In fact, he said they made sense. He noted that his group’s ad strategy was not meant to be one-dimensional — that they released spots with little fanfare in swing states in addition to those that they trumpeted to great effect on social media,” The Daily Beast reported.

“We were pretty clear from the get-go about the lanes of our strategic outreach. The first one, which made the most noise, was for the audience of one. That was the stuff directed at Trump, the campaign, the White House and the family,” Galen said.

“The stuff we knew would distract them, make them angry, make them fight internally, make him fire Brad Parscale, sue us, whatever it was so their attention was pointed elsewhere,” Galen said.

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“The second one, is a lot of the stuff we did in Electoral College states, a lot of times we didn’t even release it on Twitter. But we understood, nobody better than us, that Twitter was a bullhorn that from our perspective drove what we did against Trump, sometimes into his head, and sometimes into the narrative that the press was observing and creating, and gave our 2.7 million people on Twitter the energy they craved.”

Rick Wilson, another Lincoln Project official, told CBS News the group was going after “independent-leaning men, those college-educated Republicans, the suburban Republican women.

“We understand where these voters are, we understand who they are and how they think. And Lesley, it’s a game of small numbers. I mean, Donald Trump won this election by 77,000 votes in three states,” he said.

And they were successful, right?

“Our takeaway is that we as political operatives or people online on Twitter a lot, aren’t necessarily a good judge of what is persuasive,” Nick Ahamed of Priorities USA said.

But wait — wasn’t The Lincoln Project indicative of Republican dissatisfaction with Trump?

The media loved this interpretation, but it remains very much [citation needed].

The primary reason this group got any sort of oxygen was because of George Conway, whose loathing of his wife and her boss made for a fun story and overrode the fact he was a half-embalmed “Weekend at Bernies” case with less charm than the titular corpse. As it turned out, they ended up doing absolutely nothing of substance — but it was all hilarious, right?

No? Oh well, it served its purpose. Or not, but whatever.

The Lincoln Project is now trying to resurrect the Republican Party in its own image. All of this might make sense if it had actually made some kind of substantive difference to begin with.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture