Case Study

AMERICAN BRIDGE: Trump Defector Videos


The American Bridge strategy was to provide “permission to defect” to large numbers of 2016 Trump voters where Trump carried each of the Frost  Belt states by less than 1 percent in 2016. Through personal, authentic testimonies from relatable voters, the mission was to persuade voters who were on the fence to fully embrace voting against Trump in 2020. According to fivethirtyeight, Biden won Michigan by 3 points, and Pennsylvania by more than 1 point, and Wisconsin by less than 1 percent. 

American Bridge needed to find real votes, who reflected the perspectives and lifestyles of others who were compelled to vote for Trump in 2016. They hired Field Strategies to develop the community organizing model that would find, film, and organize Trump defectors willing to tell their story through TV and Digital media to the rest of their state. 

Strategy & Tactics

FS developed a program from whole cloth, but based on several cycles of our own work pioneering in-field video organizing. We collaborated with BlueLabs on modeling that predicted probabilities of finding Trump defectors in counties and down to the precinct and individual voter level. We worked with Dixon-Davis media to refine scripts that optimized our ability to record in-field videos that would serve as effective auditions for further production. In all, we played an integral role with the American Bridge team over the course of 18 months, collecting 218 videos in the field and increasing efficiency all the way through the Georgia run-off elections for US Senate.

Janie Burd: TV Ad & Digital Ad: Janie Burd has lived in the same house in Derry, PA since 1938. Janie’s biggest concern is healthcare because of a stroke from six years ago. She believes that Trump is incapable of empathy and has never experienced “small town America.” She thinks he sees regular people as “riff raff,” and is not capable of understanding the burdens that healthcare costs put on working families. She would like to see him face the “same uncertainty for just a week .”

John Trussoni: TV Ad & Digital Ad: John is retired who grew up in a dairy farm and is one of thirteen children. John felt Trump did not keep his promise for the working class, failing the average American that supported him. John spoke on his family’s woes with his son and daughter suffering the most financially. John said their hardship caused a ripple effect as he stepped in to assist his children.


It worked. While many video subjects did not pass stringent vetting criteria, over 40 identified and organized by FS in the field, were used in targeted digital and TV. Among those with the greatest impact, were Janie in PA and John in WI. In all we knocked 121,331, contacted 23,051 voters, and identified 439 defectors. The defectors went through an additional touch where we converted 49.6% of defectors with compelling life stories into video testimonials.