Skip to main content

Screen capture of attack ad against Sherrod Brown
Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown has been slammed with Super PAC negative ads, but to what effect?
They're going to throw millions of unregulated dollars against President Barack Obama.
In an ad entitled "Too Much," focused on President Barack Obama and energy prices, the outside group Crossroads GPS is going on air for a week on broadcast and cable in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia, with a total buy costing $1.7 million, per POLITICO's James Hohmann.
That's Karl Rove's outfit, and don't be surprised if they end up spending over $100 million in such attack ads before this thing is done—and that's not including every other shadowy GOP billionaire-funded front group.

Still, how much impact can these negative ads have on Obama? There is probably no human being more over-exposed on the planet than Obama, and how many people are sitting around waiting for ads to tell them what they think of him? People either love him, hate him, tolerate him and may or may not vote for him, or don't care for him and may or may not vote for Romney. No one is sitting around undecided on how they feel about the president.

But that's all conjecture. Let's look at an actual race in which these shadowy groups have already spent millions—the Ohio Senate race.

There is no candidate in this nation, except for presidential contenders, who has faced more Super PAC-funded negative ads than Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown. At last count, he's faced $5.1 million in such attack ads from the US Chamber of Commerce ($2.7 million), the 60 Plus Association ($1.4 million), others like Rove's Crossroads GPS.

Now keep in mind that unlike Obama, Sherrod Brown isn't a household name, not even in Ohio. He's a freshman Senator, at his most vulnerable reelection effort—his first. These are the kind of races in which negative ads have the most impact, helping define candidates in voters minds.

So what have those millions done to Brown's numbers? Here's a poll composite of the state, excluding Rasmussen's numbers:

Ohio Senate poll trendlines
Essentially, Brown has gone from a 13-point lead in the polls last September, to an 11-point lead six months later. Meanwhile, Republican challenger Josh Mandel flatlines in the mid-30s—never a good place to live even if you can seriously damage the incumbent, which they haven't.

Keep in mind that while Brown has weathered this onslaught, he has done so with no outside support. Allied groups are still sitting on the sidelines, wondering if Brown will actually hit the danger zone. He hasn't thus far.

Of course, this one example isn't proof of anything, but it is suggestive—if a massive negative ad blitz has done little to dent a relatively unknown freshman senator's standing with voters, how exactly will a massive negative ad blitz dent the standing of a universally known politician like Obama? (And let's not even get into DVRs and shifting media consumption patterns that further reduce the impact of those ads.)

My prediction right now—the Super PACs won't have a perceptible impact on the presidential race. Their effect in Senate races should be stronger (notwithstanding the Ohio example), and they'll likely have a huge impact in House races (where candidates are little known, and voters have little interest in getting to know them). Also, we can't ignore the effect those ads had in the GOP primary—but remember, it took well over $100 million to drag Romney over the line against 4th-tier shit candidates like Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.

(And let's not forget how well that effort worked out for Romney himself, sporting record-low favorability ratings for a major party nominee.)

But the prez? They can sink hundreds of millions of people trying to turn him into the boogeyman they think he is at Fox News, but people have already made up their own minds.

The only question was wether the GOP would put up someone they might like more than Obama. They didn't. Not even close.

Originally posted to kos on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 04:34 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site