Election 2020

National progressive group targets young Pa. voters in battleground ad blitz

The new ad, to air on SNL and Comedy Central, avoids anti-Trump messaging.

Way to Lead / YouTube

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A politically progressive group based in the Southwest is running a new ad to target young voters in Pennsylvania and other key battleground states in the final week of the election.

The Phoenix-based Way to Lead PAC made a $150,000 buy to air during Saturday’s Penn State college football game, as well as other millennial and Gen-Z geared television slots, including on Saturday Night Live, Comedy Central and Cartoon Network.

Designed by political consultants in the Philadelphia area, the 60-second clip focuses on issues like climate change, economic inequality and gun violence. It also borrows imagery from the Black Lives Matter movement, including a representation of George Floyd, whose death at the hands of Minneapolis police this summer helped spark a surge of social justice protests across the nation.

“We’re watching old ideas crumble,” the ad narrator says, behind the image of a falling Civil War-esque monument covered with graffiti that reads “colonialism” and “white supremacy.”

The buy is a small in the scheme of larger ad spending to support Biden and Trump. Combined, the campaigns and their allied PACs have spent over $716 million on television advertising throughout the race, according to NPR.

Notably, the ad does not mention Democratic candidate Joe Biden, despite its obvious appeal to liberal voters. Nor does it mention President Donald Trump. Way to Lead strategist Jenifer Fernandez Ancona said that was intentional.

“There’s been a lot of anti-Trump messaging out there and that’s what gets a lot of attention, but what we’re focussed on is positive stories that target a multi-racial coalition,” Ancona said.

“There aren’t that many undecided voters,” she added. “It’s more of a mobilization issue right now. We’re trying to inspire them and get them fired up about the issues.”


The ad does take broad jabs at the Republican party and the Trump campaign’s efforts to influence election laws in states like Pennsylvania. “This election, we can choose the nation we want to be,” the narrator says. “The Republicans know that — and they’re scared.”

Way to Lead PAC formed in September as an offshoot of Way to Win, a larger progressive political group co-founded by Ancona. It has spent over $85 million trying to mobilize liberal voters in key swing states who might otherwise stay home. Way to Lead’s mission is to support progressive candidates in down-ballot races in a dozen states, including Pennsylvania, by engaging voters “roughly under 40,” Ancona said.

After this weekend, the ad will also run in digital form, she said, showing up across the commonwealth until Election Day.

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