If you felt like you were subjected to an inordinate amount of pro-Trump ads during the presidential campaign and don’t live in one of those miserable battleground states, then there’s a good chance you watch a lot of NCIS or The Walking Dead. Apparently, the Trump campaign’s marketing people determined that those two shows are the most popular among people whose political opinions line up with Trump’s favorite issues, so they purposefully aired ads highlighting those specific issues during NCIS and Walking Dead. That’s according to Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who explained in an interview with Forbes how the Trump campaign used data when it came to targeting campaign ads, and he specifically highlighted those two shows by name.
Kushner goes even further than that, though, suggesting that NCIS viewers really hate the Affordable Care Act and that Walking Dead viewers are really “worried about immigration.” The NCIS connection there probably has to do more with demographics than the show itself, which is to say that the sort of people who typically watch NCIS also typically vote Republican. But the Walking Dead thing is a bit more interesting. Perhaps people who are worried about immigration are drawn to The Walking Dead for narrative reasons, like there’s something appealing about a TV series where diverse Americans band together under the brave leadership of a police officer to protect their homeland from a rampaging horde of others who seem to have appeared overnight and now inhabit every corner of the United States.
However, that reading ignores the fact that the zombies on The Walking Dead aren’t foreign invaders, they’re just other American men and women who happen to look a little different and have different values than the brave police officer and his friends. Sure, shambling around in ratty clothes and eating brains may seem weird and scary, but that doesn’t mean they really pose any threat to the core American values that the main group of survivors represents. Also, the show has proven over and over and over again that humans are bigger monsters than the zombies, so we’re not sure how that fits into these dueling metaphors.
Trump won the election either way, so maybe Walking Dead viewers are just easily frightened by email-related scandals.