The Specter of Hillary Clinton Is Dominating the GOP's 2018 Campaign

This image was removed due to legal reasons.

A staggering number of TV ads in 2018 races across the country feature an old GOP enemy made new again: Hillary Clinton.


Between January 1 and April 24 of this year, 13,000 campaign ads have mentioned or featured a photo of the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, according to an analysis for USA Today by Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group published on Tuesday. 5,000 of those were all run in one race—Ohio’s Republican gubernatorial primary.

One such ad—used by Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor’s campaign—refers to her Republican opponent, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, as “DC DeWine,” and explicitly ties him to Clinton. From USA Today:

As a U.S. senator, “D.C. DeWine voted with Hillary Clinton 962 times” in six years, says one TV commercial from Taylor’s campaign. The Senate roll-call voice then reads out “Aye” for both Clinton and DeWine on immigration, spending and gun control bills.

GOP ads around the country echo the Taylor campaign’s use of Clinton. That’s desperate, Democrats said, accusing Republicans of pointing to a defeated presidential candidate to avoid talking about their party’s short list of accomplishments since they took control of Washington.

Desperate, certainly, but Republicans around the country know which way 2018's winds are blowing and are pulling out all the stops. It’s also politically smart, which is why national Republicans have made this part of their plan to beat back a blue wave. Clinton was a deeply unpopular presidential candidate, and her approval rating dipped below 30% in polling conducted last month—making her even less popular than Donald Trump.

USA Today notes that only former President Obama has appeared in more ads (House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is in third place, making an appearance in some 10,000 spots so far this year). It’s a sign that, particularly in the dirty business of politics, evoking Clinton is a tactic that’s not going away soon.