But the Wisconsin effort, notable for both its approach and its scale, seems to have found some success. From February to May, the advocacy group Opportunity Wisconsin, with help from a progressive advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C., called the Hub Project, managed to do remarkable damage to Trump’s standing with a group of persuadable voters. The effort sought to identify voters who took a favorable view of Trump’s record on the economy but who might still be receptive to alternative perspectives, then spent weeks targeting them with messages arguing that the economy was actually not working for Wisconsin, and that Trump’s policies weren’t helping.
“The most impressive thing is that they clearly had some effect in changing how people think about Donald Trump, and that’s just really difficult to do,” says David Broockman, a political scientist at UC Berkeley who studies persuasion. “For a real program to have effects on what people think about Trump in the field, not an artificial setting like a focus group, is quite impressive. There’s very little I’ve seen this election cycle that has found that.”