Early in the general election, Trump hasn’t done much traditional advertising, but he has gotten into online advertising in a big way. His ads are uncomplicated billboards featuring his picture and a simple message such as, “Help Trump march towards Washington.”
These ads are not meant to win over Clinton voters or undecideds. They are not even designed to keep the candidate front and center and improve his “mental availability.” No need for that. Trump and his latest comments already lead every newscast and fill every comedian’s monologue.
People hesitate to support him because of doubts about whether he has the right temperament for the job. They notice that he amplifies any criticism of him or his candidacy by making the critic and the criticism front-page news. To attract those who aren’t already Trump fans, he’ll have to act presidential. If he acted as if he had the right temperament, people would believe it, and they wouldn’t even question his motive. So far, he can’t seem to act that way.
These online ads speak only to current Trump fans asking them to raise their hands, to be counted, and, ideally, to donate. The ads give Trump fans a little of the emotional benefit of supporting Trump—the visceral feeling that you are backing the toughest, meanest dog in a fight. Trump fans feel that it is about time conservatives and America, in general, started acting that way.
The ads help Trump locate his fans and help keep them in the fold. To win, Trump will have to do a lot more than that.