Larry J. Sabato's Crystal Ball
Export date: Thu Aug 22 17:49:33 2019 / +0000 GMT

Take two

Last week, we highlighted 1 10 classic or notable political ads that we thought 2014 candidates might consider studying (or “borrowing,” to use a euphemism for copying) for their upcoming campaigns. We then asked readers to respond with their own ideas. Five of the best suggestions follow, along with some words of wisdom from a seasoned political pro about the limits of political advertising.

“Spelling bee”

Description: Missing from our initial list were ads that dealt with the spelling of a candidate's name, which can sometimes lead to creative ads. For instance, former U.S. Rep. Ed Mezvinsky (D-IA) cut an amusing spot 2 saying that while voters might not be able to pronounce his name, they'd know where he stood on the issues (credit to @johndeeth on Twitter). Former Sen. Paul Tsongas (D-MA) also cut some good ads on his last name, among others. But here's our favorite suggested "name" ad -- Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) won an improbable write-in campaign victory in 2010 after losing the Republican primary, and she ran a delightful ad featuring kids at a spelling bee.

Who could use it: Any write-in candidate would do well to copy the Murkowski spelling bee ad, and someone with a hard-to-pronounce name might consider the Mezvinsky ad -- perhaps Iowa state House Rep. Anesa Kajtazovic (D). Kajtazovic is gearing up to try to follow in Mezvinsky's footsteps by winning a race for Iowa's First Congressional District, although she'd do well to avoid Mezvinsky's later history (he was convicted of fraud and served jail time in the 2000s). By the way, Mezvinsky used to be married to former Rep. Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky (D-PA), a one-termer elected in 1992 who was undone by voting for President Clinton's tax increases. Margolies-Mezvinsky is running in 2014 for the House seat being vacated by gubernatorial candidate Allyson Schwartz (D). The Mezvinskys' son, Marc, is married to Chelsea Clinton.

“Hey, Dad”

Description: @CTIronman, @rjprez2b and other readers pointed out this classic spot from ex-Sen. Scott Brown's (R-MA) surprising special election victory in 2010. In what became the enduring image of the campaign, Brown is shown driving his pickup truck across the state before coming home in the evening and being greeted by a “Hey, Dad” from his kids.

Who could use it: Maybe Brown could take his pickup truck over the border to New Hampshire if he actually makes his rumored but highly unlikely bid to return to the Senate by running there against Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D).

“Creating a buzz”

Description: Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) is now a national name after winning his second term, but he got his start running an underdog race in 2006 against Sen. Conrad Burns (R). In this ad -- suggested by @LindsayRBarnes -- Montanans are getting Tester's signature buzz cut, a sign he's “catching on” with voters. Notice that, in the ad, Tester notes his association with then-first-term Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D), who recently decided against a Senate bid of his own.

Who could use it: Emphasizing a connection to rural culture and values is a must for any Red State or district Democrat. The Brown and Tester ads are very similar, even though Brown was a Republican running in a Democratic state and Tester was a Democrat running in a Republican state. In effect, both ads attempt to localize and humanize their candidates.

“Home movies”

Description: Two years after Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-MN) won his surprising upset in Minnesota -- we highlighted Wellstone's YouTube Video: 3

;feature=c4-overview-vl&list=PL0DEC3DBE02CC1DD2">ads last week -- Russ Feingold (D-WI) used a similar style in his upset of incumbent Sen. Bob Kasten (R-WI). Several readers asked for the inclusion of this ad, which refers to Feingold as a regular guy who was "the underdog who is running for the U.S. Senate.”

Who could use it: Last week, we recommended that Rick Weiland (D-SD), another underdog running for U.S. Senate, check out Wellstone's ads. Feingold's 1992 campaign would be another one to study, even though Minnesota and Wisconsin have more of a liberal/progressive history than South Dakota.

“Demon sheep”

Description: This ad is perhaps more odd (or creepy?) than good, but it's certainly memorable. Republican California Senate candidate Carly Fiorina went after primary opponent Tom Campbell (R) for not being sufficiently fiscally conservative by reciting some aspects of his record. He is then depicted as -- yes -- a wolf in sheep's clothing, complete with weird, red eyes. (Thanks to @trogdor8768 for suggesting the ad.)

Who should not use it: Fiorina's ad did get a lot of attention, although it also attracted 4 "endless mockery on social media sites and from Fiorina's political opponents." Republican outsiders running against candidates with voting records might repeat the use of hard-hitting opposition research, but maybe not the "demon sheep."


We hope you've had as much fun as we have had with these TV spots. But as we conclude this segment for now, it is important to stress that clever ads are not always the key to victory. In fact, as our friend and U.Va. graduate John Lapp, a prominent Democratic TV consultant, notes: "I get a lot of candidates who think there is some magic potion to win, some lottery ticket. 'How do we go viral?' they ask. And I explain that going viral actually comes at a cost in terms of credibility as a candidate. There is no fast and easy way to win an election. Like most things in life, it requires discipline, hard work, and most of all, lots of fundraising." These are words to the wise among the Crystal Ball's readership.
  1. les/rinse-and-repeat/
  4. arly-fiorinas-demon-sheep.html
Post date: 2013-07-25 00:32:49
Post date GMT: 2013-07-25 04:32:49

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