With prominent Republicans pulling their support for the Republican presidential nominee, down ballot races have become even more crucial. Many Republicans are worried about a potentially historic loss in the majority they hold in the House of Representatives, and there are several contentious Senate races underway in states such as North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire that could have similar implications. As down ballot candidates try to navigate the fallout around the Republican presidential nominee, it is vital that Democrats and Republicans think of new and creative ways to activate supporters and sway potential voters in their favor.
One of the ways to achieve this specificity is using data to directly pinpoint advertising dollars to areas where there are a high percentage of swing voters. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz proved the value of targeted messaging when he defeated Presidential candidate Donald J. Trump in the Iowa caucus using informed ads that addressed local issues, such as firework bans and traffic cameras. Now it is local and state candidates who are making use of data to reach voters as in the case of Karen Jacobs, Democratic candidate for the Texas House of Representatives. A major reason she has made use of digital advertising is the mismatch between broadcast television territories and where her potential voters live. It is more efficient for her to target these voters using digital advertising or targeted cable advertising instead of expensive ads on broadcast television that will be seen by many voters who cannot even vote for her.
Tight races for the House and Senate can take lessons from Sen. Cruz and Ms. Jacobs, who proved that campaigns at both the presidential and local level can benefit from targeted digital and cable advertising. Rep. Barbara Comstock in northern Virginia is only one of many Republicans facing a tough re-election bid. She will need to reach the set of voters that are unfavorable to Trump, but still might favor a Republican on a down ballot race. Broadcast television ads for Rep. Comstock's race are seen by voters in three states and the District of Columbia and most of these voters cannot vote for Rep. Comstock. Instead, targeted digital and cable advertising have the potential to reach specific voters efficiently and allow candidates to avoid wasteful spending of campaign funds that can be used for other aspects of the campaign.