The 2016 election is (finally) almost over, and we're reaching the point where people actually get to vote on the candidates, not just hear about them. But in this last week, there are still those last-ditch efforts by campaigns to get their message out. That means, of course, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump's final campaign advertising pushes, hoping to get that last edge that convinces voters to make the right choice.
After more than a year of campaigning, from primary races to the vitriolic general election, from the presidential race in swing states and national pushes to little local races with candidates few have heard of, this has been a crazy year for campaign ads. We all may be getting tired of the never-ending election, but after all this, I may actually miss the strange word of political ads. From the primaries to the general election, Americans have witness a slew of advertisements, perhaps played ad nauseam if you live in Ohio, Pennsylvania, or another swing state. Below are some of my favorites from this long and wild election — the best, that tug at the heart strings, the worst, that fail miserably, and the weirdest, that left me just wondering what to think. I've included down-ballot races, as well, so you can partake in the enjoyment and/or horror that's been witnessed coast to coast.
1. Hillary Clinton - "Role Models"
2. Hillary Clinton - "Mirrors"
I'm counting both of these together since, although they came out several months apart, they feature a similar style and message.
These two devastating and emotional ads, one from right at the beginning of the general election, in July, and the other, as part of a closing argument in September, highlighted a core tenet of Clinton's message about Trump — his rhetoric has coarsened our culture, serves as a bad model for children, and does not befit a president. By focusing on just Trump's words with the reactions of children (and specifically young girls in the second ad), the ads make Trump's issues bigger than just him.
3. Ted Cruz - "Machine Gun Bacon"
Gun culture is a powerful thing in a Republican primary, and Ted Cruz wasn't going to let anyone look more gun-crazy than he. So, it wasn't just enough to shoot a gun. He had to taste a gun. "In Texas, we cook bacon a little differently than most folks," Cruz says. Now, I'm not a Texan chef, but I'd assume that no one recommend this as the most effective cooking method.
4. Jason Kander - "Background Checks"
Missouri Democratic senate candidate Jason Kander took a different path in talking about guns in this striking (and, let's be honest, a little terrifying) ad. He manages to look strong even as he fights for gun safety, and with his easy confidence, he quickly shot to national attention despite running as a Democrat in a deep red state — and Kander might even win.
5. Save The Day PAC - "Important"
Every election, we get the usual parade of celebrities telling young people to vote, often in front of a white background. This ad, written and directed by Avengers director Joss Whedon, mocks that, while obviously being part of it. And Clinton even told People magazine that she'll hold Mark Ruffalo to his promise to go full-frontal on screen in his next movie if she becomes president.
6. Donald Trump - "Ab ki Baar Trump Sarkar"
I'm still not convinced this is a real ad, but since Buzzfeed has interviewed the head of Trump's Indian-American Advisory Council about it, I guess it is. Not only is it weird to see Trump reaching out to Hindus (and even speaking Hindi with his Queens accent!) but it's edited like a middle schooler trying out iMovie for the first time.
7. Gerald Daugherty - "Please Re-Elect Gerald"
In this campaign season, it's nice to be reminded that most people working in government are public-minded civil servants who care about their community's issues. Gerald Daugherty's wife complains that that seems to be all her husband cares about in this hilarious ad where she hopes to help him be reelected as Texas' Travis County commissioner. This ad went viral, getting so popular that Gerald and his wife even cameoed in another ad with a similar concept.
8. Lindsey Graham - "How To Destroy Your Cell Phone"
Way back in July 2015, Trump was doing his kooky thing and publicly released the cellphone number of Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of his primary rivals. Graham responded not with anger at Trump, but at that poor innocent cellphone.
9. Donald Trump - "Dangerous"
Trump put out the most intensely negative ad I've ever seen with this recent spot. Not only does it juxtapose Clinton with images of ISIS terrorists (which isn't really anything new for political ads), it centers on the clip of Clinton collapsing from pneumonia at the 9/11 memorial, something Trump claimed he'd not exploit. It's pretty explicit in its claims that Clinton is too physically weak to protect the country.
10. Bernie Sanders - "America"
Even in the midst of 2016's relentless negativity, one of the most effective ads of the whole campaign may have been its most positive. Bernie Sanders' wordless, hopeful "America" ad played into his campaign's hippy-nostalgic roots with Simon and Garfunkel, and was one of the few that suggested a brighter tomorrow.
11. Save The Day PAC - "Verdict"
This ad goes straight to the heartstrings, focusing on immigrants, unable to vote, but knowing their lives hang in the balance. By showing them paying rapt attention but unable to express themselves, this ad works hard to convey how this vote could most affect people who can't affect it.