The Wal-Mart Moms of 2016

The Clinton campaign’ ad strategy is simple: show clips of Donald Trump talking. That’s it and it’s brilliant because Donald Trump has a hard time attacking an ad of himself. The decision has proven to be one of Clinton’s most effective tools. For example, Hillary Clinton continues to attack Donald Trump with the ad “Mirrors.” In the video, young girls look at themselves in mirrors a for his treatment towards women. And why wouldn’t Clinton? Despite her recent FBI email controversy, Trump’s Twitter attacks, fat-shaming, sexual assault and rape accusations tug on voter’s emotions, which is more effective than any email will ever be during an election.

Donald Trump’s behavior has not only cost him a majority of the female vote, but a recent New York Times poll illustrates how his comments have a much bigger impact than originally calculated. Released November 4th, a New York Times poll, showed findings from 332 teenage girls from two high schools, one in a liberal city and the other in a conservative small-town.

Forty-four percent of the girls stated they would vote for Clinton if they were of age, while fifteen percent stated they would vote for Trump. All of the teenage girls had heard Trump’s comments about women and forty-two percent said he had affected the way they thought about their bodies. One girl stated, “That hits me hard when people like Trump say people who are skinnier than I am are too big. It makes me feel extremely insecure about myself.”

While these girls cannot vote this coming Tuesday, their family members can. Mothers may be influenced if they see their teenage daughter questioning her worth or shaming her body. Middle-class, suburban mothers have proven to be key swing voters for decades, but the pressure to secure the middle-class mom vote is even higher.

Wal-Mart Moms

These swing voters are best known by their stereotyped label given in each election cycle by pollsters. For example, they were known as the soccer moms of 1996, and security moms and Nascar dads of 2004. Neil Newhouse, of Public Opinion Strategies, first coined the term for the voting group in 2007 and described the voters as a “mix of ethnicity, white, minority, and they’re living on the edge of the economy. When the economy catches a cold, they catch the flu…They’re trying to make ends meet and figure out if they can pay for piano lessons for the kids or gas for the car.”

As expected Wal-Mart Moms are still the key swing voter group for 2016 and are estimated to take up 14 to 17 percent of the electorate. Wal-Mart Moms helped push Obama to victory in 2008 and 2012 but voted Republican during the midterms. They are the voting group both candidates are fighting for and may decide the outcome of this election. That’s why the responses from the teenage girls in the New York Times poll is so important. Wal-Mart Moms traditionally vote on family issues, and when a teenager shows the possible consequences before the election is even over, that is cause for concern for the Trump campaign.

A Plea for Future Generations

Hillary Clinton has attempted to appeal to the Wal-Mart Moms since the start of the general election with her economic policies, middle-class tax cuts, and debt-free college tuition plans. However, given the unpredictable nature of the 2016 campaign, her ads have created a new dimension, intersecting the values seen in ‘Wal-Mart Moms’ and contrasting them with Donald Trump. Her “Mirrors” ad ends with a black screen displaying a single question: “Is this the president we want for our daughters?”

In an ad of similar style titled “Role Models,” young children are seen watching Trump’s controversial rhetoric and behavior on television. The ad then cuts to Hillary Clinton at a rally delivering these words to the crowd,

“Our children and grandchildren will look back at this time, at the choices, we are about to make, the goals we will strive for, the principles we will live by, and we need to make sure that they can be proud of us.”


1 Tweet: 12 Staffers


1 Tweet: 12 Staffers

It is safe to say Hillary Clinton has not had a good weekend. The days following FBI Director James Comey’s decision to re-investigate emails related to Hillary Clinton’s personal server, Clinton’s campaign has been furiously sending out social media posts reiterating her positions and attacking Comey and her opponent Donald Trump. In light of a new email chain released by WikiLeaks detailing how it took 12 staffers, 12 hours, and 10 drafts to compose a tweet about minimum wage, one can only imagine the work being put in by staffers after the Comey surprise.

Fight for 15

12 staffers, 12 hours, and 10 drafts. Sounds crazy, right? However, in today’s election, a tweet can cost voters. The Clinton campaign is still using Donald Trump’s 3 AM tweets about Alicia Machado to attack his moral character, instability, and fitness to serve as commander and chief.

In April of 2015, low-wage workers and child care workers nationwide demanded minimum wage be raised to 15 dollars an hour and people worldwide demonstrated their support on social media platforms by using the hashtag #fightfor15. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Chief of Staff reached out to the Clinton staff in hopes they would show support for increasing wages for underpaid workers. The Clinton campaign was in a tight position: seize the opportunity to appeal to middle and working class voters, or risk sounding off-policy. The camp decided the middle and working class vote was worth it but apparently, forming the right words was harder than imagined.

Over twenty emails with various drafts were exchanged between 12 staffers including Campaign Chairman, John Podesta, Chief Strategist, Joel Benenson, and Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri.

Different versions of the desired message included:

#1 – “Every American deserves a fair shot at success with a true living wage. I stand with fast food workers in the #fightfor15. -H”

#2 – “Every American deserves a fair shot at success with a true living wage. I applaud fast food workers in their #fightfor15. -H”

#3 – “With corporate profits at record highs, it’s time for a real raise for all working Americans.”

#4 – “Every American deserves a fair shot at success with a true living wage. I stand with fast food workers in the #fightfor15. -H”

#5 “Every American deserves a fair shot at success. Fast food & child care workers shouldn’t have to march in streets for living wages #Fightfor15”

#6 “Every American deserves a fair shot at success. Fast food & child care workers shouldn’t have to march in streets for living wages.”

#7- “Every American deserves a fair shot at success. Fast food & child care workers shouldn’t have to march in streets for living wages. -H”

#8- “Every American deserves a fair shot at success. Fast food & child care workers shouldn’t have to march for living wages. #fightfor15 –H

#9- “Every American deserves a fair shot at success. Fast food & child care workers shouldn’t have to march in streets for living wages. -H”

#10- “Every American deserves a fair shot at success. Fast food & child care workers shouldn’t have to march in streets for living wages. –HRC”

* The final tweet never ended up on Clinton’s Twitter page but was tweeted from an “unofficial” account, Clinton News.

Clinton’s Disconnect

So there you have it. Finally, a behind-the-scenes look into Clinton’s media pages, but it makes you wonder, is the Trump Campaign dealing with the inefficiency in tweeting seen in the email chain above? Probably not but whether or not that benefits them is another story. However, the email chain reveals two other pieces of information besides the communication team’s inefficiency. First, Hillary Clinton is not writing the tweets despite the attached ‘H.’ Second, to prevent an attack from the opposition, staffers immediately delete the two words that would connect Clinton with her media followers, “I stand.”

If Clinton drafted her own tweets and used language that made her messages more personal, maybe she wouldn’t be perceived as cold, robotic, and unapproachable. Her distant and disconnected persona has not helped her gain supporters, and that image can only hurt worse when combined with another FBI investigation.


Clinton’s Silent Majority

03oped-jumboThe Silent Majority: From Nixon to Trump

The “silent majority,” a term coined by President Nixon has been described from a speech Nixon made on November 3, 1969, as, the idea that there are two kinds of Americans — the ordinary middle-class folks with the white picket fence who play by the rules and pay their taxes and don’t protest and the people who basically come from the left.”

In Nixon’s era, he used the term to gain support for his plan to end the Vietnam War. Nixon, during a time of racial conflict and anti-war protests, targeted middle-class white Americans who felt forgotten. Similarly, Donald Trump used this same rhetoric to gather his base during his 2016 run for office. In 2015 while campaigning, Trump tweeted:




When traditionally used, the term’s racial undertone calls on the disparaged white middle-class who have been silenced by the growth of minority populations. In the same way, the “silent majority” is often linked to Trump supporters and in doing so, highlights the racial tension present in the country. However, a recent Vox article demonstrates another interpretation. Rather than highlighting the racial aspect often used with the expression, the article uses the “silent majority” to describe the hidden voters. The “silent majority,” as Vox writer Mattew Yglesias describes, “America is facing another silent majority election—one in which the story has been all about Trump’s supporters but the victory will go to Clinton’s.”

The New Silent Majority

Yglesias reasons the outcome will be because “the new silent majority is quiet,” describing the new majority as minorities and women. In recent years, the middle-class has become even more diverse, and Clinton’s policies appeal more to minority and working class families than Trump’s. While Trump maintains the white working class vote, they are no longer the majority.

Despite this, minority and women voters have not made the same impact on the media as the typical ‘Trump voter,’ and there is less energy in Clinton’s voting base compared to Trump’s. In a sense, Nixon’s majority is now the noisy majority. The conservative, white middle-class voter has garnered much more attention than anyone on Clinton’s side.

Despite Trump’s base taking over the spotlight this election cycle, Yglesias projects that Clinton will come away with a victory. He argues that just like in the primaries when it seemed like all the excitement was for Bernie Sanders, Clinton pulled through with overwhelming high numbers. Her voters might not be in your face and loud, but they are out there and in big numbers.

While evidence proves Clinton is winning the minority and women vote, and while it is true a ‘typical Clinton voter’ hasn’t had the media attention given to a ‘typical Trump voter,’ to say Clinton is going to get the silent majority vote is far-reaching. In fact, it is Clinton who should be fearing the silent majority, that is, the silent majority in its original form. It seems much more logical to think a voter would go silent during the election and not tell anyone they were voting for Trump. Voters are more likely to stick to their party than vote for the opposing side. Clinton is more successful convincing conservative middle-class voters not to vote for Trump than she is telling them to vote for her. Clinton may have a new silent majority, but she still needs to worry about the silent voter creeping in on election day and voting for Trump.

Measuring the Middle-Class

aptopix_dem_2016_clinton-jpeg-0df2e_c0-212-4878-3056_s885x516Defining the Middle-Class

What does ‘middle-class’ mean in America? For a term so widely used, it is almost impossible to define and measure. Is it a measure of income or wealth? Is it living paycheck to paycheck or is it material comfort and economic security?

In 2014, the middle-income range for a household of three varied from $42,000 to $126,000. A Pew study reported that the median net worth of middle-class families in 2013 rose 2.3% from 1983. Interestingly, the median net worth of upper-class families more than doubled, while lower-class families median net worth dropped almost 20%.

Shifting Demographics

However, these statistics suggest the middle-class is shrinking, with the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. Middle-class families are part of a demographic shift and families are experiencing new struggles as a result of income inequality. As the demographic landscape continues to shift and diversify, how will our presidential nominees define their message to ‘middle-class’ voters?

Voters tend to categorize issues by subject matter. For example, middle-class voters can categorize their key voting issues into three groups: workplace relations, personal issues, and family issues, including their safety. Regarding policies, this may translate into immigration reform, national security, tax cuts, healthcare reform, or paid family leave. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have targeted middle-class voters by appealing to these three categories.

Donald Trump’s Message to Middle-Class Voters

Donald Trump has branded himself as a candidate for the white, particularly male middle-class voter. He capitalizes on the fear of white middle and working class voters who feel disempowered by the growing racial makeup of the United States. By doing so, his strongest rhetoric with voters is with workplace relations. Donald Trump attracts voters by advocating a revamp, or tear-down of a globalized, multicultural system and ‘America first.’ Trump has structured his entire campaign on the prospect that he will ‘Make America Great Again,’ an appeal which promises to restore America back to a time where minority groups were silenced, and the white middle class was strong.

Hillary Clinton’s Message to Middle-Class Voters

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has taken a different approach and is targeting family issues as her main appeal to middle-class voters. Her latest ad, titled Measure, promotes Clinton’s policies designed to help children and families. The positive ad shows young kids measuring their growth on a wall, playing sports, and interacting with friends and family at home and school.

Measure Ad:

Clinton asks, “How do we measure greatness in America? The height of our skyscrapers? The size of our bank accounts? No. It’s measured by what we do for our children.”

The ad highlights Clinton’s educational policies, which advocates adequate and accessible schools and debt-free college. Clinton states, “It will be my mission to build a country where our children can rise as high as their dreams and hard work take them.” The Measures ad is just an example of Clinton’s appeal to family issues for middle-class families. Hillary Clinton frames her rhetoric to be positive and family-centered, suggesting that instead of defining success on small, materialistic scales, we should define success through our children.

Hillary Clinton promotes a nation where the success of our children defines the success of the nation. With this measure, by having a nation created out of the dreams of our children, opportunities become limitless. That’s the pitch. A nation built by and for families.

Far Removed


“Kind of far removed.”

Surprise! It’s October, which means the election is heating up with leaks and new revelations designed to cause political mayhem. This election cycle’s ‘October surprises’ have not only brought chaos, but they have also wreaked complete havoc for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign. While the Trump camp is suffering, Clinton has not gotten off easy with WikiLeaks releasing new emails from the Clinton campaign. Emails? You’d think voters would be sick of that by now, but the emails reveal Clinton admitted to Wall Street firms that she is “kind of far removed” from the middle class.

Same Story, Different Audience

The opposing side has promoted this message as a negative comment from Clinton, one that illustrates Hillary Clinton’s lack of appeal to middle-class voters. However, when looking at Clinton’s full statement, her message is consistent with what she has been saying throughout the campaign. Clinton’s middle-class upbringing and her professional experiences make her empathetic to middle-class struggles and capable of fixing them. The leak only reveals that Clinton uses both personal and professional experiences to influence her policies and reach various audiences. This rhetoric is in her speeches to Wall Street firms as well as her speeches on the campaign trail.

Clinton’s full statement to investment banks highlight her childhood in Illinois, “We had solid middle-class upbringing. We had good public schools. We had accessible healthcare. And now, obviously, I’m kind of far removed because of the life I’ve lived and the economic, you know, fortunes that my husband and I now enjoy, but I haven’t forgotten.” Hillary Clinton consistently highlights her middle-class upbringing on the campaign trail, just as she did to Wall Street investment bankers. It’s a tool that not only puts her at an equal level with voters, but it also shows she’s on their side. Clinton argues that someone who has experienced middle-class hardship is far more likely to work to end it, compared to someone who has lived a life of luxury.

Clinton’s Weakness: Being a politician

If nothing else, the leak portrays Hillary Clinton as a typical politician, which seems to be the worst thing one can be in the current political environment.  Russell Berman of The Atlantic noted the emails, “Capture a candidate, and a campaign, that seems in private exactly as cautious, calculating, and politically flexible as they appeared to be in public.” Clinton’s campaign is marked by her inability to connect with voters, particularly middle-class voters. The WikiLeaks emails do not appear to reveal the personal information one expects to find with email leaks. The leaks only play into Clinton’s private and cautious persona.

Clinton addressed her public image in a recent Humans of New York piece stating, “I know that I can be perceived as aloof or cold or unemotional, But I had to learn as a young woman to control my emotions. And that’s a hard path to walk. Because you need to protect yourself, you need to keep steady, but at the same time you don’t want to seem ‘walled off.’” Despite her honesty, Hillary Clinton still struggles to appear authentic and relatable, particularly with middle-class voters.

Coming full circle: Clinton’s Policies

In recent weeks, Clinton has focused on her middle-class upbringing, using rhetoric similar to that in the email leak, to connect with voters. Her attempts in the first and second debate performances portray her as one who has endured middle-class struggles. Clinton targets middle-class voters by advocating policies that attempt to fix Obamacare and make college affordable and debt free. This strategy seems fitting after reading the leaked email in which Clinton states her middle-class upbringing allowed her ‘accessible healthcare’ and ‘good schools.’ Clinton’s policies reflect her history, but the only missing piece for many middle-class voters is the ability to see her as an average American. Only time will tell if Clinton can persuade voters, but in the meantime, Republicans will continue to portray Hillary Clinton as a ‘corrupt politician.’

What Matters to Voters 

While “October surprises” have been no cakewalk for Hillary Clinton, it is clear that her opponents will use anything to discredit her. This is true even when the ‘facts’ like the leaked email comment stated above show that Clinton has been consistent in using her middle-class upbringing to highlight the fact that she, “hasn’t forgotten.” The Republican nominee, now ‘unshackled‘ from his own party, may continue his combative and divisive tone in an attempt to profit from Clinton’s ‘October surprise.’ However, if the past few days are any indication, it appears that Trump’s camp would rather continue the war against the GOP than save their campaign from imploding. With Clinton’s email leak, and Donald Trump’s sexual assault video coming out at the same time, it begs the question: Which issue will resonate the most with voters? Especially among middle-class voters, a group high in family and women voters, one would guess sexual assault takes precedence.

Hook, Line, and Sinker


Hillary Clinton may be a part of the so-called ‘establishment,’ and a ‘Washington insider,’ but in the world of campaigning, her messaging and marketing strategies make her seem like an outsider. Although catchy, “I’m With Her,” “Breaking Down Barriers,” and “Stronger Together” lack the clear, consistent, and concise message of, “Make America Great Again,” that attract much of Trump’s white working and lower-middle-class base. However, Clinton’s messaging was polished and precise at the first Presidential Debate when she attacked Donald Trump’s financial record and economic plan for deceiving and exploiting the middle class. She may have trouble with her marketing strategy, but on debate night it was clear: Clinton believes Trump just wants to, “Make the Rich Richer.”

Trumped-Up Trickle Down

With all public communication, Clinton has trouble projecting ethos and her campaign’s changing message only makes it harder for voters to connect, especially voters late in the deciding process. However, during the Presidential Debate last Monday, Clinton combined her strengths in policy and her experience as a public servant to sling shots at Donald Trump in an appeal to the economic struggles and experiences of the middle class. In doing so, she also may have used one of her most powerful phrases yet: “trumped-up trickle-down.”


Middle Class Roots

The first question of the debate addressed the economy, an issue that draws many voters, both working and middle class, to support Trump. Clinton focuses on the middle class, highlighting policies and tax cuts that will assist the middle class. She compares them to Trump’s plan which she refers to as “trumped-up trickled-down.” She points out their differing economic views as being the result of both candidates’ upbringings. She comes from a middle-class family and Trump, from a more privileged background. She uses a personal story about her father, an effective strategy in political campaigning, to distinguish the two candidates. Clinton compares Trump, someone from a privileged and wealthy family who, “started his business with $14 million, borrowed from his father” to her father, “…a small-businessman who worked really hard.” This is effective because it joins Trump to his own trumped- up trickle-down economics which Trump does little to rebut.

Trump: A History of Deception 

One of Clinton’s best moments in the debate was her attack on Trump’s tax returns and his exploitation of the economic crisis in the early 2000’s. Clinton pressed Donald Trump hard on his tax returns, pointing to past records which show he paid nothing. Trump replied, “That makes me smart.” She also uses a tactic consistently employed by the Clinton campaign: using Donald Trump’s own words against him. This time, she quotes him talking about the housing crisis back in 2006 saying, “Gee, I hope it does collapse because then I can go in and buy some and make some money.” Once again, Trump takes the bait saying, “That’s called business.” Clinton immediately pounces citing, “Nine million people- nine million people lost their jobs. Five million lost their homes. And $13 trillion in family wealth was wiped out.” Clinton is not only discrediting Donald Trump but she’s pulling at the strings of families who suffered during that time, many of whom are undecided, and many of whom originally backed Trump for his economic success.


So why was Clinton’s debate appeal to the middle-class effective? She brought real solutions to the table and consistently showed how Trump’s strongest appeal, his business record, takes advantage of disadvantaged middle-class families.


Why is this significant? It’s one of the few issues from the debate still being discussed and one of the few issues that has gained traction since the debate. Yesterday the New York Times leaked pages from Donald Trump’s 1995 tax records revealing he declared a $916 million loss on his income tax returns. The NY Times and a hired team of tax experts weigh in that the deduction could have allowed him to dodge federal income taxes for a whopping 18 years. The new findings bring further skepticism on his ‘successful businessman’ image and bring further doubt on Trump’s ability to grow the economy and work for middle and working class families. As Clinton said in the debate, “If he’s paid zero, that means zero for troops, zero for vets, zero for schools or health.” Simply put, if he hasn’t upheld his civic duty to help these groups in the past, what evidence is there that he will in the future? From a marketing perspective, only time will tell if Clinton’s message will reach voters, but it is certainly causing problems for the Trump campaign.