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Wesleyan Media Project: Republican Candidates Embracing Trump At Record Rates

AP Photo/John Minchillo
President Donald Trump waves to the crowd during a rally, Saturday, Aug. 4, 2018, in Lewis Center, Ohio.

A new study by the Wesleyan Media Project finds Republican candidates are praising President Donald Trump at record rates in their advertising for November’s midterm election.

Michael Franz, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project, said the study is their first look at national broadcast and cable television advertising for the 2018 midterm and they’ve found even a few red state Democrats are speaking positively about Trump.

“There’s some strategic embracing of Trump or at least ignoring of trump on the Democratic side, depending on who you are talking about,” he said, “And then there’s more embracing of Trump on the Republican side than what we’ve seen in the past.”

Franz said this is in stark contrast to the last couple of midterm elections.

“No Democrats in the same time period that we are examining in 2010 and 2014 embraced Obama in ways like Republicans are embracing Trump this time around,” Franz said. “So he’s a very polarizing figure and to see the high approval mention by Republicans is quite something.”

Franz said there are some regional differences in the extent to which Trump is embraced.

“So a place like Connecticut, located in the Northeast, is likely to have a more moderate set of Republicans than say some other places across the country," he said, "Trump would not be the person that would invoke the same sort of embracement, as he would in say southern states.” 

The Wesleyan study also looked at campaign advertising on Facebook. There Trump is also a central figure – he’s mentioned positively in over one-fourth of GOP ads, and negatively in one-third of Democratic ads.

The study finds that the hot button issues on Facebook for Republicans were immigration, gun policy and taxes. While Democrats favored talking about the GOP health reform and to a lesser extent about taxes.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.