With the midterm elections slightly less than 6 weeks away, one cannot escape the barrage of political ads that will take place until election day, November 4th. If you like to watch television, particularly the morning and evening news, there is simply no escaping those non-stop and often corny/cheesy ads that try to get the voters attention. You know the ones where a certain candidate is labeled evil and anti-middle class because he or she happened to give a millionaire a tax break. Or perhaps an incumbent candidate is labeled a heavy tax and spend guy who cannot get enough of those needless pet projects. There is virtually no limits to what degree candidates will go to gain votes. Unfortunately, many of those ads are filled with crap and heavy in lies and half-truths. A person really should take those ads with a grain of salt and dig into candidates records and views on various issues. If an accusation or negative ad seems to be too unrealistic, it probably is!!
As a concerned citizen and voter, those ads mean very little to me. I already know a good deal about most of the candidates, and there is very little revealed that will surprise me or change my mind. In fact, I am willing to bet that many folks probably fall into the same category. More times than not, people vote for a candidate based on their party or in my case, I do not vote for a candidate of a particular party. I would even be willing to vote for an independent candidate if I was not satisfied with the choices. The ads pretty much target either those who are undecided, a small percentage, or those independent voters who probably make up about a 1/3 of all voters. So how can a person who is running for office get the attention and votes from this group using media such as television?
For a person challenging an incumbent, attack ads can be very useful in exposing the faults of the person in office. The incumbent has a record which can be picked apart and any challenger would be foolish not to attack that record. However, how would you as a challenger do things different? It is one thing to rip apart a candidate for his record, but what plan do you have that would separate yourself from the incumbent. For instance, if I was running against someone who is a big supporter of Obamacare, I would certainly go after that candidate for his support of that awful piece of legislation. But I would certainly want to have a clear-cut plan that would replace it and most important of all, ARTICULATE THAT PLAN TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC!! Given the short time that is allowed for a commercial, that plan has to be short and simple. Attacking a person is one thing, but when I see a candidate constantly attacking an opponent without mentioning any plan he or she may have makes for a very shallow ad.
An incumbent really has to focus in on his or her record and explain how their policies have really helped everyday ordinary people. I know some candidates who go around and brag about how they have helped poor people get health coverage, but how have you helped the majority of people? Are many folks paying higher premiums and deductibles because of your support for that bill? Another example is these incumbents who brag about job creation under their watch. Creating a bunch of low wage part-time jobs is not something that I would want to hang my hat on. I would feel much better about my policies if I helped open up an energy plant and thus many people got high paying jobs.
A huge bonus for any candidate is giving people the impression that you can work across party lines to get something accomplished. A candidate who does this is bound to be very effective. I saw a couple of ads from an incumbent senator who explained how he reached across party lines to get a piece of legislation passed. Although I would never vote for him, I truly respect him for coming up with a great ad that is sure to help him garner many votes.
A good ad will also focus strongly on a very key issue with many people and that is the economy. If I ran an ad, I would really stress how my policies could help many middle class families and put more money into their pockets. Sure there are other issues that are important such as foreign policy and immigration, but as one famous political person once said, “It is all about the economy, stupid”. Yes it is!! People pay attention and become engaged in politics when their pocket books are affected.
November 4th seems like a long ways away and those endless ads are sure to cause a number of people to throw stuff at their televisions! If a candidate or party is willing to spend thousands of dollars on a short 30 second ad or longer, why not try to make it effective? Sadly, many candidates seem to think that we are a bunch of stupid people at home who do not know any better. A good well produced ad talking positively about YOU!! can go a long ways in getting elected.