Gary Johnson and Jill Stein trail in public opinion polls
But their TV ads have an effect on viewers
Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson may have had a rough 24 hours following comments he made regarding the Syrian city of Aleppo, but third party candidates have managed to have some good luck with at least one audience in a recent poll.
A survey from the advertising assessment firm Ace Metrix asked people to watch and rate political ads from presidential candidates from across the spectrum, and the results revealed the ones in support of Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein appear to be some of the most effective ads in this election.
The company asked more than 500 people in an online panel to watch and rate ads on a number of criteria – such as whether they believe the ad’s claims and whether it impacts who they’ll vote for – as the company has for each ad released in this year’s presidential campaign.
Survey-takers at the center of the political spectrum rated Stein’s minute-long ad, titled “Terrible,” the most effective political ad released in August, according to the Ace Metrix data.
The spot lays out a central plank of her platform: “A green new deal will create 20 million jobs, halt climate change and make wars for oil obsolete.”
Several of the spots draw contrasts with front-runner candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. For example, Johnson’s running mate, Bill Weld, says in one ad: “I think of him as Honest Johnson and he would never ever ever tell something to the voters that he didn’t think was true.” Stein begins one of her ads speaking into the camera: “Donald Trump says despicable things. But Hillary Clinton has a terrifying track record.”
While the data shows the ads capture the attention of independent voters, they have limited releases. Stein spent only $189,000 to air her ad for a few days in early August. Johnson’s campaign only began airing television advertisements this week, and has reserved around $464,000 of ad time this month.
For comparison, Clinton’s campaign has spent an average of $7.5 million per week on general election television advertising, according to ad spending data from Kantar Media/CMAG.
The Ace Metrix survey shows the second-most effective spot among participants who are independents and those only loosely tied to a political party in August was produced by the pro-Johnson group Purple PAC.
“One candidate offends everyone,” the narrator begins, referring to Trump, and “the other will say anything to get elected.”
In contrast, “Gary Johnson supports social tolerance, free enterprise, and a sane foreign policy.”
Centrist reviewers said the ad broke through by grabbing their attention, for its relevance and because it drove them to learn more about the candidate.
An ad released this week by Johnson’s campaign also scored above-average marks in an Ace Metrix panel.
“Been There” – the ad with the “Honest Johnson” line – centers around Johnson’s running mate describing his trust and respect for the man at the top of the ticket, even calling him “almost painfully honest.” Survey takers noted the ad provides them with credible information about the candidate.
Ace Metrix asks survey participants to classify themselves as either independent, leaning towards a party, mostly voting for a party, or always voting for a particular political party. The data used in this piece includes voters who self-identified as independents, leaning Republican, or leaning Democratic.