Nevada Dems Work To Boost Digital Ads Ahead of 2020 Race

Party Looks To Regain Advantage Lost With Trump's 2016 Win

Associated Press
September 23, 2019 - 6:36 am

Carmen Murillo/Getty Images

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — As Democrats race to outpace President Donald Trump’s aggressive online operation ahead of the 2020 election, the left’s largest super PAC touched down in Nevada this week to help local advocacy groups sharpen their internet presence.

The training, a four-day boot camp where participants learn how to create and post ads on Facebook, YouTube, Google searches and more, was conducted in Las Vegas by Priorities USA, the biggest outside group in Democratic politics.

Democrats had a technological edge during the Obama years, but that shifted in 2016, when Trump’s campaign heavily outspent Hillary Clinton’s online.

Trump’s targeted Facebook ads are credited with driving voters in critical Midwest states to the polls. And Brad Parscale, who ran Trump’s digital operation in 2016, has been promoted to manage the president’s re-election campaign in 2020.

Not only will control of the White House and Congress be up for grabs next year, but down-ballot races for governor and state legislatures across the U.S. will elect those overseeing the redrawing of state and congressional maps after the next U.S. Census. The redistricting can cement a party’s political power for the coming decade.

With so much on the line, Priorities USA is gearing up by offering training this year in Georgia, Florida, Colorado, New Hampshire, Ohio and Nevada, focusing on the labor and advocacy groups that form an activist army for Democrats.

During a training session Wednesday, Priorities’ Peter Anich walked the group of about 20 people through the placement of a Facebook ad.

As an example, Anich used Facebook’s ad manager to show how an ad can be shown to a very specific audience. He demonstrated the creation of a hypothetical ad that would be seen on Facebook by people who’ve indicated on the social media site that they work at the Olive Garden restaurant and have an interest in unions — and live in New Hampshire.

“There’s so many things that you could possibly select,” Anich said, adding the social media giant allows ad buyers to also isolate the ad’s audience by gender and whether they’re using Android devices (which tend to cost less than Apple products and are more likely to be used by those with lower incomes).

Robert Cabrera, a digital organizer with Make the Road Nevada, a nonprofit that advocates for working-class people and immigrants, said Wednesday that he’s created some Facebook ads before but wanted to learn how to use other mediums and make sure his online ads reach the right people when they try to promote the state’s presidential nominating caucuses or advocate on an immigration issue.

“If we do a digital ad, we want to make it as optimized as possible so we’re not just blowing away the little resources that we have,” he said. “I don’t want to cast a broad ad and not reach our target demographic.”