Former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump. (Graphic via Tania Lili for COURIER)
Former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump. (Graphic via Tania Lili for COURIER)

Coronavirus handling is at the heart of new messaging to air in a national pandemic hot spot.

[This article is updated to reflect a Wisconsin TV ad buy from a pro-Trump political action committee.]

The Democratic National Committee on Thursday launched a new television ad campaign in the Green Bay-Appleton media market, a day after Buzzfeed News reported President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign is cancelling millions of dollars worth of ads in several midwestern swing states including Wisconsin.

The opposite approaches less than a month before the election highlighted how the presidential race has become more of a challenge for the incumbent as he battles a virus he has bragged about downplaying.. Trump won Wisconsin by fewer than 23,000 votes in 2016, but he has trailed Biden in every poll of voters in Wisconsin for several months. Trump is similarly underwater in other swing states that helped propel him to the White House, such as Michigan and Pennsylvania.

The new Democratic ad, called “Had Enough?”, does not specifically mention Wisconsin. Instead, it focuses on Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic that has left more than 210,000 dead and nearly 7.5 million infected in the United States. In a press release, the DNC did not give an exact cost on the new Green Bay-Appleton ad buy but said it is six figures.  

Tom Perez, DNC chairman, noted in the release how severely Wisconsin has been affected by the pandemic. “Every day, Wisconsinites are paying the price for Donald Trump and Mike Pence’s incompetence and total failure to respond to the coronavirus,” Perez said in a statement.

On Wednesday, Wisconsin reached 1,415 coronavirus-related deaths and 138,896 confirmed cases, according to the Department of Health Services.

Meanwhile, Trump appears to be ceding the Midwestern airwaves to Biden in a baffling strategic move. Between Wisconsin and Michigan, Trump’s campaign canceled $2 million in ads since September, according to Buzzfeed News. 

The amorphous nature of political advertising, however, does not preclude the possibility that the ads sponsored directly by the candidate will be offset with ads sponsored by well-funded and ambiguously named outside groups.

(In fact, less than 24 hours after this article was first published, The Hill reports that the Trump-supporting America First Action PAC has announced a $3 million ad buy in the Green Bay, Milwaukee, and La Crosse TV markets.)

Biden led Trump 46%-41% in Wisconsin in a Marquette Law School poll released Wednesday. A Detroit News/WDIV-TV poll released Monday found Biden up 48%-39% in Michigan.

According to CNN, the President’s re-election campaign also recently canceled $2.5 million worth of ads in Ohio, which he won by 8% in 2016, and $820,000 worth of ads in Iowa, which he carried by 10% in 2016.

A CBS/YouGov poll last weekend found Trump and Biden were tied at 47% each in Ohio, and a New York Times/Siena College poll conducted in mid-September found Biden leading Trump 45%-42% in Iowa.