Attack Ads Don’t Hurt Donald Trump!

I am not a Trump supporter, but this story in the Washington Post made me laugh: “Attacks on Trump just make these voters like him more.”

It was the most brutal attack ad run against Donald Trump, and it was tanking. Twenty-nine voters, all of whom supported or used to support Trump, watched retired Air Force Col. Tom Moe not so subtly compare the Republican front-runner to Adolf Hitler.

“You might not care if Donald Trump says he’s going to round up all the Hispanic immigrants, because you’re not one,” Moe said onscreen. “You might not care if Donald Trump wants to suppress journalists, because you’re not one. But think about this: If he keeps going, and he actually becomes president, he might just get around to you.”

Frank Luntz, the Republican media consultant who had put together this focus group, watched the dials turn down. On a scale of zero to 100, the ad’s effectiveness never got above 20.

It is noteworthy that the group contained people who no longer supported Trump and the attack ads still didn’t make them hate him.

It gets better.

Next up was a lengthy compilation of Trump’s attacks on his fellow Republicans, over a pumping, distracting drumbeat. “He sweats more than any young person I’ve ever seen,” Trump said of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Carly Fiorina talked like a “robot.” Ben Carson was “pathological.” Jeb Bush had “no money” and was “meeting with Mommy and Daddy” for support.

The dials turned higher — because the audience was laughing along with Trump.

“It was like his greatest hits,” said Tiffany Alm, 43, a stay-at-home mom had moved to the D.C. area from Wisconsin. “It’s Donald Trump, and it’s entertaining.”

Frank Luntz is so clueless. He (like the rest of the media and the Republican Establishment) thinks that these quotations are an embarrassment to Trump when they are actually the reason why he is popular. Newsflash: most grassroots voters hate most of the Republican candidates. Of course they are going to appreciate it when someone mocks them. Why didn’t Luntz predict this reaction?

“Normally, if I did this for a campaign, I’d have destroyed the candidate by this point,” Luntz told a group of reporters when the session ended. “After three hours of showing that stuff?”

With only two exceptions, the three hours of messaging, venting and friendly arguments revealed the roots of Trump’s support. Participants derided the mainstream media, accusing reporters of covering snippets of Trump quotes when the full context would have validated him. They cited news sources they trusted — Breitbart News was one example — to refute what they were being told.

Republican consultant Rick Wilson said, “They’re still going to have to go out and put a bullet in Donald Trump.” If he meant that metaphorically, then Luntz shows that all they can fire are blanks.