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Almost half of Americans have seen a political ad mentioning AOC


  • Forty-four percent of Americans and registered voters say they’ve seen a political ad featuring Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, according to recent Insider polling. 
  • The freshman congresswoman is being mentioned in political ads to motivate voters by politicians across the spectrum, including by the president. 
  • Notably, the ads motivated liberals and conservatives at relatively similar levels.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.


Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York won her Democratic primary in June with nearly 75% of the vote in her safe blue district.

But Ocasio-Cortez’s political appeal is being tested far beyond the Bronx and Queens.

Politicians across the country and the political spectrum are juxtaposing or aligning themselves with Ocasio-Cortez and her progressive politics in their campaign ads. About 44% of Americans and registered voters have seen an ad featuring or mentioning the freshman congresswoman, according to recent Insider polling conducted over SurveyMonkey Audience.  

About 15% of registered voters said they saw an ad featuring AOC and were “more inclined to vote for Republicans” after seeing it, while about 14% saw one and were “more inclined to vote for Democrats.” Sixteen percent saw one and said it wouldn’t affect their vote. A third of respondents said they hadn’t seen any such ads, 8% said they don’t watch political ads, and 14% said they hadn’t seen one, and even if they had it wouldn’t affect their vote. 

Notably, the ads motivated Democrats and Republicans at relatively similar levels. About 45% of “very conservative” voters, 39% of “moderately conservative” voters, and 21% of “slightly conservative” voters said they were inclined to vote for the GOP after seeing the ads. On the flip side, 37% of “very liberal” voters, 25% of “moderately liberal” voters, and 16% of “slightly liberal” voters said they were more inclined to vote for Democrats. 

A Trump campaign ad links Democratic nominee Joe Biden to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders.

A Trump campaign ad links Democratic nominee Joe Biden to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Screenshot/Donald J. Trump for President

A champion and a bogeywoman

President Donald Trump and his reelection campaign have long attempted to tie Ocasio-Cortez’s political brand and policy proposals to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. 

And in some of the most conservative states and districts across the country, Republicans are using Ocasio-Cortez as a bogeywoman and symbol of the so-called “radical” socialist left. Ocasio-Cortez’s name, image, and policies have been used in several competitive GOP primary races, in which candidates positioned themselves as the most pro-Trump and anti-left option. 

“AOC wants to plunge us into Communism — she is clueless about how capitalism even works,” Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene, a QAnon supporter who last month won the GOP primary runoff in a deep-red Georgia district, said in a campaign ad

Greene has featured Ocasio-Cortez and other progressive freshman congresswomen, including Reps. Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley, in several social media posts. On Friday, Facebook removed an image Greene posted of herself holding an assault rifle next to images of Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, and Tlaib. The social media giant said the image violated its policy on “violence and incitement.” 

Lauren Boebert, a far-right Republican nominated for Congress in Colorado’s third district, ran explicitly as an anti-AOC candidate, tying GOP incumbent Rep. Scott Tipton to “left-wing lunatics.”

“Scott Tipton cosponsored HR 6467, teaming up with AOC and her squad to give Boulder a bailout,” one of her ads said. 

Both Greene and Boebert will likely win the general elections in their conservative districts and become Ocasio-Cortez’s colleagues next year.

Running in a similarly competitive Senate primary in Tennessee, Republican Bill Hagerty flashed an image of Ocasio-Cortez’s face in a campaign ad as the narrator says, “The Washington liberals have wanted to impeach President Trump since day one of his presidency. They know they can’t beat Trump at the ballot box, so they’re trying to steal the next election.” 

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is featured in an ad for Sen. Ed Markey's reelection campaign.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is featured in an ad for Sen. Ed Markey’s reelection campaign.

Screenshot/Ed Markey for Senate

Ocasio-Cortez has somewhat eclipsed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as the right’s bogeywoman. While Pelosi was mentioned in more than 130,000 House and Senate campaign ads during the 2018 cycle, she’s been mentioned in just 44 ads during the 2020 cycle, Politico reported Friday. The GOP may have dropped their attacks on Pelosi in part because Democrats took back the House — flipped 41 seats — in 2018.

For her part, the 30-year-old democratic socialist has leveraged her massive social media following and influence on the left to endorse and campaign for fellow progressives.

Sen. Ed Markey leaned heavily on Ocasio-Cortez’s support to win his competitive Massachusetts primary against Rep. Joe Kennedy on September 1. Markey ran as the more progressive Democrat in the race, touting his work with Ocasio-Cortez on the Green New Deal and positioning himself as a fighter for a younger, grassroots left. 

Ocasio-Cortez cut a 30-second ad for Markey, while the senator featured her prominently in another ad that went viral. 

But Democrats looking to win independent or right-leaning voters have stayed away from Ocasio-Cortez — and in at least one recent case, touted their opposition to her policies. 

Democratic Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, who represents a rural purple New Mexico district, noted in a recent campaign ad that she voted against “AOC’s fracking ban bill.” 

INSIDER conducted a SurveyMonkey Audience poll on a national sample August 7-8. We had 1,150 respondents and a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

SurveyMonkey Audience polls from a national sample balanced by census data of age and gender. Respondents are incentivized to complete surveys through charitable contributions. Generally speaking, digital polling tends to skew toward people with access to the internet. SurveyMonkey Audience doesn’t try to weight its sample based on race or income. This survey had a total 1,150 respondents, a margin of error plus or minus 3 percentage points with a 95% confidence level.

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