Hillary Pollster: $100,000 in Facebook Ads Didn't Torch Clinton's 2016 Hopes

Posted: Oct 19, 2017 1:10 PM

The 2016 election is over. Trump won. Hillary Clinton lost. And now she’s going on a rampage, blaming the FBI, James Comey, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Russia, the media, sexism, and misogyny for her election defeat. It’s all in her new book What Happened.  Well, you didn’t go to Wisconsin or Michigan, lady—that’s what happened, but I digress. Social media has now been brought into the mix, with desperate Clintonites saying that $100,000 worth of Facebook’s ads bought by the Russians upended our great experiment with individual freedom and liberty. I never knew our government’s institutions were that fragile (sarc.). Well, Hillary’s former pollster, Mark Penn, is calling bulls**t on this claim, noting that the majority of the ads ran after the election, and that you cannot buy a presidential race for $100k (via WSJ):

After an extensive review, Facebook has identified $100,000 of ads that came from accounts associated with Russia. Assume for the sake of argument that Vladimir Putin personally authorized this expenditure. Given its divisive nature, the campaign could be dubbed “From Russia, With Hate”—except it would make for a disappointing James Bond movie.

Analyzing the pattern of expenditures, and doing some back-of-the-envelope math, it’s clear this was no devilishly effective plot. Facebook says 56% of the ads ran after the election, reducing the tally that could have influenced the result to about $44,000. It also turns out the ads were not confined to swing states but also shown in places like New York, California and Texas. Supposing half the ads went to swing states brings the total down to $22,000.

Facebook also counted ads as early as June 2015. Assuming they were evenly spread and we want only those that ran the year of the election, that knocks it down to $13,000. Most of the ads did not solicit support for a candidate and carried messages on issues like racism, immigration and guns. The actual electioneering then amounts to about $6,500.


Then consider the scale of American presidential elections. Hillary Clinton’s total campaign budget, including associated committees, was $1.4 billion. Mr. Trump and his allies had about $1 billion. Even a full $100,000 of Russian ads would have erased just 0.025% of Hillary’s financial advantage.

I have 40 years of experience in politics, and this Russian ad buy, mostly after the election anyway, simply does not add up to a carefully targeted campaign to move voters. It takes tens of millions of dollars to deliver meaningful messages to the contested portion of the electorate. Converting someone who voted for the other party last time is an enormously difficult task. Swing voters in states like Ohio or Florida are typically barraged with 50% or more of a campaign’s budget. Try watching TV in those states the week before an election and you will see how jammed the airwaves are.

Again, we keep circling around the fundamental truth that Hillary Clinton was unpopular, unlikable, and did not resonate with voters. She was a bad campaigner with no message or agenda that gained traction with voters hence she lost. The fault for this loss is hers alone. Not anyone else’s—it’s all Clinton. Facebook didn’t upend her either. This is just the latest chapter in a saga with endless dead ends. It’s becoming embarrassing. Yes, Democrats—Hillary Clinton was that bad, which is why Trump is president and she isn’t—thank God for that.