Is Linking Candidates to Donald Trump or Gov. Malloy an Effective Strategy? | Connecticut Public Radio

Is Linking Candidates to Donald Trump or Gov. Malloy an Effective Strategy?

Oct 31, 2016

This year, politicians and political action committees have spent millions of dollars connecting Republican candidates to Donald Trump, and Democrats to the policies of Governor Dannel Malloy.

Below is a TV ad from the conservative super PAC Grow Connecticut.

Linking a political opponent to a controversial politician higher up on the ballot is a time-honored political ploy. But the tactic backfired last week.

A digital ad linking Trump with Dr. William Petit, a Republican candidate for state legislature, was widely condemned by both Republicans and Democrats. The ad read, “Stop Donald Trump and Republican William Petit’s attack on women and families.”

Petit was the sole survivor of the 2007 home invasion in Cheshire that took the lives of his wife and two children.

The ad was quickly pulled, and the head of the union responsible for the ad has since resigned.

Quinnipiac University Political Science Professor Scott McLean said the lesson from the Petit ad is that campaigns must do their research.

"You have to have some sort of evidence to substantiate this, and make this a persuasive claim," said McLean. "Sometimes it's like the little boy who cried wolf. If you say every candidate is tied to Donald Trump, it doesn't ring true."

Still, McLean expects voters will continue to see both Democrats and Republicans utilizing the strategy in the days leading up to the election.