Cities on fire. Rioters clashing with baton-wielding cops. Bodies stacking up in makeshift graves…. A trailer for the latest apocalyptic blockbuster? No, just some of the latest volleys on social media and television as the ad wars boil over between President Donald Trump, former Vice President Joe Biden and their often deep-pocketed allies.
So far, Trump has been the aggressor, reflecting his take-no-prisoners personality at a time when polls show him trailing Biden badly, experts say.
“Usually, we have an incumbent who’s in the lead, an incumbent who’s risk averse. Let’s just run out the shot clock,” said Travis Ridout, a public policy professor at Washington State University who studies political messaging.
“This time around, we’ve got an incumbent who’s way behind,” he said. “The incumbent has to shake up the race, and perhaps the best opportunity to do that is try to disqualify the challenger, try to throw some mud, hope that it lands, hope that the media will pick up on that.”