Not that this is a subtle thing. In her speech Tuesday night during which she claimed the mantle of presumptive nominee, Clinton made that appeal explicit.
“This election is not, however, about the same old fights between Democrats and Republicans. This election is different,” she said after polls closed in New Jersey. “It really is about who we are as a nation. It’s about millions of Americans coming together to say, we are better than this. We won’t let this happen in America. If you agree, whether you’re Democrat, Republican or independent, I hope you will join us.”
That same evening, Politico reported that Clinton’s team was buying ads directing Facebook users to a pointed domain: RepublicansAgainstTrump.org. The site collects contact information from visitors, promising a “free Republicans Against Trump sticker” for anyone who takes “the pledge,” which concludes: “He does not speak for me and I will not vote for him.”
Our Rebecca Sinderbrand noticed something about that domain. Early last month, the New York Times reported that the Clinton campaign was planning to reach across the aisle, under the rubric of “Republicans for Hillary.”
May: Republicans for Hillary. June: Republicans Against Trump.
The campaign owns both versions of the domain. The against-Trump version was purchased on May 27 (using a dot-org address because the dot-com was already in use). The for-Hillary version was first purchased in November 2012, and the information for it was updated most recently in November. They could have used either! They went with “Against Trump.”
A few days after Trump won the Indiana primary and his opponents dropped out, we noted that dislike was shaping up to be a strong motivating factor this year. More than 80 percent of Republicans held strongly unfavorable views of Clinton in a March Washington Post-ABC News poll and nearly as many Democrats had a strongly unfavorable view of Trump a month later. In our most recent poll, released last month, 17 percent of Republicans held strongly unfavorable views of Trump.
More to the point: Nine percent of Republicans said they’ll vote for Clinton and would never consider Trump vs. 1 percent who could vote for Trump but picked Clinton. Which, if we ignore margins of error, would suggest that “Republicans Against Trump” is about nine times as effective a message as “Republicans for Hillary.”
The beauty of the modern political campaign, of course, is that campaigns can target specific messages to specific people better than ever before. So if the Clinton campaign can figure out you’re a Republican and hate Trump — say, by cross-referencing Facebook party identification with membership in a group called “Never Trump” — it can hit you up with a link to its new site.
If the campaign is not sure, it can play it more optimistically. Bringing us to a new report from Fortune indicating that the campaign will launch a “Together for America” effort, overseen by prominent Republicans who will endorse Clinton in the spirit of her speech from Tuesday. Come together! Vote Clinton! And so on.
It’s important to remember that Clinton’s goal here isn’t necessarily to get Republicans to vote for her. It is, at least, to get Republicans uninterested in voting for Trump. Switching a voter from your opponent to you (“Republicans for Hillary”) is a plus-2 for your campaign (them minus one, you plus one), but getting one of your opponent’s voters to give up (“Republicans Against Trump”) is still good. If Clinton can gather information about disaffected Republicans and remind them how much they hate Trump on Nov. 8, that’s better than nothing.
On May 4, search interest in “Republicans for Hillary” peaked on Google. May 4, of course, was the day after the Indiana primary and the day John Kasich dropped out. On May 5, “Republicans Against Trump” peaked. If Clinton can get interest in one or both of those topics spiking again in early November, she’s in good shape. Which one? She couldn’t care less.