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Advertising imbalance, p. 171, The Gamble, Sides & Vavreck
One of the main building blocks in the Beltway media's "Dems in disarray" theme for this year is that Republican outside groups, especially the Koch brothers-linked Americans for Prosperity, are out to a huge lead in running TV ads. AFP alone has outspent the main Democratic outside groups (Senate Majority PAC and House Majority PAC) in early advertising in competitive congressional races by an over 2-to-1 ratio, and that's before factoring in ad spending by the more establishment-flavored outside groups like American Crossroads or the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

That's been going on for a while, though, and you'd think that things would steadily be getting worse for the Democratic Senate races, in the same way that the constant drip-drip of water steadily erodes anything. The odd part is, the Democrats' poll standings aren't getting worse, and as Markos pointed out several times in the last month, in selected cases they're actually getting better. The Kochs and friends aren't getting the bang for the buck on their spending that they'd expected; they're spending and spending and not moving the needle.

There are lots of possible explanations for that; for one, presidential approval numbers have ticked up a bit in recent weeks, probably thanks to better economic news and strong ACA enrollment numbers. That might rub off on overall Democratic fortunes, but not in any profound way; Obama approvals have only increased from the low-40s to the mid-40s. And another possibility is that some of the AFP's more notorious ads have simply fallen apart under media scrutiny, most notoriously the anti-Obamacare ad starring Julie Boonstra in Michigan, which might blunt their impact somewhat.

But there's a better explanation, one that's apparent to people who've quantitatively studied the effect of TV ads: They just don't work, or more accurately, they work for only a short period of time. Their effect on overall poll numbers is small and, more importantly, the effect starts wearing off almost immediately. AFP and their allies can juice the poll numbers a bit by keeping ads on constant rotation, but as soon as they take their foot off the accelerator, the races quickly revert back to the mean. Over the fold, we'll look at the arguments and the numbers behind these claims, drawing primarily on one of the best retrospectives of the 2012 election, The Gamble by John Sides and Lynn Vavreck.

If you haven't read The Gamble, it's well worth your time to do so; most significantly, it's an antidote to the usual breathless but anecdotal post-campaign write-ups like Game Change. In fact, it's almost a direct rebuttal to books like Game Change, because, as Sides and Vavreck methodically demonstrate throughout, there really aren't any game changing moments in a presidential campaign; the alleged game changers don't do much beyond causing short, small fluctuations within a narrow band of polling. The trajectory of that narrow band instead depends on a handful of data like economic conditions, presidential approval, and incumbency. Debates don't matter, gaffes sure as hell don't matter and ads matter only to the extent that neither side can surrender the airwaves—and if both sides advertise thoroughly and competently, it's largely a wash.

Sides' and Vavreck's research drilled down to look at polling in individual media markets to see how polls in markets where one candidate was advertising more compared with polls in markets where both candidates were advertising in parity. They found that a candidate with a 100-GRP advantage in a market (about one more ad per capita more than the opponent aired) could expect to gain almost an additional point of vote share, compared with a market where the ads were evenly matched.

So that's clear evidence ads work, right? Well, you have to think in terms of the point of diminishing returns. One percentage point is so small an advantage that it hardly matters, except in a super-close election. In addition, there were two further problems: one, there were few markets where, at any moment, one candidate had gone dark and the other was advertising hard; this happened only around 20 percent of the time in any given media market. The second problem was that the ad effects rapidly disappeared.

We found no statistically meaningful impact of ads aired the five days before the respondents were interviewed. Only the ads aired on the day closest to the interview mattered. Most of the effects of the ads were gone within a day, consistent with what other studies have found. This fact decay meant that any boost from an advertising advantage was a very temporary one. And because neither candidate had a consistent advertising advantage, day in and day out, it was not surprising that the polls were so stable. (p. 130)
So apply that knowledge to the situation this year, where in many markets, we currently have AFP or other GOP groups advertising, while the Democratic Senate candidates and their allies are saving their powder, most of the time. Where AFP is running its ad blitzes, if a pollster happens to show up that day, it'll register. But it'll only register to the extent of pushing the margins a point or two in the GOP direction ... and if a pollster shows up some other time when AFP doesn't have the ad accelerator floored, then the effect doesn't show up at all. That would go a long way toward explaining the status quo remaining (or small Democratic gains) in the key Senate races. And when the battle is fully joined after Labor Day, with Democratic candidates and Democratic outside groups spending constantly on ads, that temporary, sugar-shock GOP advantage won't return.

If you want to see an illustration of those principles at work, look back up at the chart at the top of the article. It's a little hard to initially interpret, but the range of gray dots for each day is the ad spending in each media market. The trend lines are the national averages of each of those markets; the fact that the trend lines constantly hover around the "no advantage" midpoint shows how the two campaigns repeatedly fought to a draw on advertising on average, even though there could be big disparities in individual markets. They also add a few arrows pointing to periods where there was a bigger-than-usual move in the polls. Notice, though, how those arrows point to days when the ads were near parity. The poll movement (which, except for Romney's post-first debate bounce, were small anyway) doesn't correspond with big moves in advertising.

One other detail you might notice is that Romney's campaign had a small lead in ads in the closing weeks. You might think that that, indeed, gave Romney a one- or two-point boost at the finish line. It may well have done just that (maybe it kept Obama from getting, say, 52 percent instead), but Sides and Vavreck point out that thanks to early voting, nearly one-third of all the voters had already voted by that point, meaning that final blitz was wasted on them.

At any rate, that late Romney ad surge was still far too small to have the desired impact, according to Sides' and Vavreck's calculations. That's true even if he tried to leverage his firepower most effectively, targeting only the minimum number of states to get to 270 electoral votes. (And, as they point out, their calculations don't take into consideration the physical impossibility of buying enough time on the airwaves to exert that kind of advantage. In other words, there are only 24 hours in the day. That explains the Romney camp's late advertising push into Pennsylvania, which occurred largely because there simply wasn't any ad time left to purchase in places like Ohio.)

It was not common for Romney to have even a 3:1 advantage on the day before the election. The most he had anywhere was about a 9:1 advantage. Based on our model, he would have needed to expand his advertising advantage in Florida by an additional 4:1 margin, in Ohio by an additional 16:1 margin, in Virginia by an additional 22:1 margin, and in New Hampshire by an additional 31:1 margin. (p. 221)
"Wait a minute..." you might be saying. "What about LBJ's Daisy ad? What about Bush 41's Willie Horton ad? Those totally turned those elections around." Well, there's no question those ads were some of the most memorable moments of those campaigns, but there's not much polling evidence that they were true turning points, at least not evidence as granular as what we have in 2012. (Also, an economistic model points toward LBJ and Bush winning those elections anyway, regardless of what kind of ads they ran.) What, for instance, was the ad that came closest to being regarded as a "game change" in 2012? It was probably OFA's "Firms" ad, the one released in mid-July that juxtaposed Mitt Romney singing "America the Beautiful" against statistics about Bain outsourcing. Did it move the numbers? Look below, and you'll see that it barely was a blip, along with basically everything else that happened during the summer of 2012:
Poll standing of Obama and Romney in spring and summer of 2012, p. 120, The Gamble, Sides & Vavreck
But that raises yet another question. If ads matter so little, and the cake is baked largely by factors that are outside of the campaign's control, why even bother? Surely there are better things to spend that money on. Well, it becomes a game theory problem, similar to Mutually Assured Destruction during the Cold War. You can't risk not playing the game.
Our view is that candidates should and indeed must campaign vigorously. It is precisely when one side out-campaigns the other that the polls may shift in its direction. But the combination of two vigorous campaigns is often a tie, as the two sides offset each other. It may seem perverse for a candidate to spend more than a billion dollars only to ensure a tie, but to do so otherwise amounts to unilateral disarmament.

We have also shown that most of the effects of campaign advertising wear off quickly. This might suggest that a campaign should wait and spend most of its money in the final week. We would not advise that either. For one side to cede the airwaves to the other side until the end would create a very different campaign... In such a campaign, the candidate who did advertise might build up enough of a lead in the battleground states that a late and powerful blitz by the other candidate would be insufficient. (p. 240)

Now, granted, there are some differences between a presidential race and a Senate race that might keep us from applying lesson from The Gamble uncritically. In a presidential race, by the time the election rolls around, both candidates have nearly 100 percent name recognition just through the sheer ubiquity of the campaign, but in a Senate race, there's a need to keep introducing the candidates to the voters, and also more of a tendency for voters to rely on whether there's a "D" or "R" after the candidates' names.

In addition, there just isn't the same level of money in Senate races that allows both candidates to run the ad engine at 4,000 RPM for half a year, so there might be larger and more prolonged ad disparities than the perpetual deadlock we see at the presidential level. And some states are small enough that retail politicking can still make a difference for below-the-radar, bolstering candidates with personal appeal and deep roots (a big advantage for Heidi Heitkamp and Jon Tester in 2012, and hopefully one that can help Mark Begich and Mark Pryor this year).

But in general, the lessons are the same: Ads move the needle, just a very little, and only for a short period of time. You can't opt out of advertising altogether, but there's not much sense in freaking out about being out-advertised half a year out from the election, since the advantage that buys you is more mirage than permanent.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Sat May 03, 2014 at 01:59 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  My concern isn't "moving the needle." (10+ / 0-)

    My concern is whether unanswered ad campaigns create accepted truths such as "Obamacare is a failure."

    I don't know how one tests for that, but it doesn't appear to me that this analysis examined the question.

  •  It doesnt have much effect on choice numbers, (5+ / 0-)

    because as we know there are very few swing voters. Most folks are simply going to vote their partisan leaning, and 90%+ of voters lean.

    Ads do, however, have a strong effect on favorables. Especially when it comes to driving up negatives. Id postulate that favorables, and more importantly negatives, has a direct effect on turnout. Especially negative campaigns have healthy turnout.

    So I agree ad spending doesent affect the head to head much, but it does have and effect on who turns out. Again, this is just a guess not backed up with any research.

    •  off topic but (0+ / 0-)

      I had you in mind when I was writing the Dionne piece.

      "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" — Upton Sinclair

      by Greg Dworkin on Sun May 04, 2014 at 06:56:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  missing factor (0+ / 0-)

      We have a poverty crisis (as much as it's ignored). For whom will the poor vote? They voted for Obama in hopes that he could start a legit discussion about US poverty, but that didn't happen. Dems keep working to grab defeat out of the jaws of victory, deeply alienating a huge portion of their former base. (Note: Yet another decade of calls for job creation doesn't address this crisis. You can't buy a potato with promises of eventual jobs.) It's pointless to try to calculate how voting will go in the upcoming elections without factoring in the voting decisions of the poor, and of those who understand why poverty is such a crucial issue.

  •  I think political ads are a blunt tool (5+ / 0-)

    People are bombarded with ads day in and day out and can easily tune out.

    The big time commercial advertisers know this, that's why they run soooo many ads, never stopping, think Coca Cola or the like. Do you think there's anyone that doesn't know what Coca Cola is, even without advertising? Yet Coke ads never stop.

    I ♥ rock crushers.

    by fly on Sat May 03, 2014 at 02:40:28 PM PDT

  •  Ads do two things... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David Jarman, TerryDarc

    Tie candidates to your cause (b/c you are paying for them, effectively a contribution).  Large enough ad buys --> access.  Look at folks grovel over the Kochs now like they used to grovel over Newt Gingrich.

    Confuse the voter or depress motivation to vote.

    Well, they introduce the candidate but in the clutch, that's what the independent media campaigns are about.

    What happens when those two things cease to happen?  That's what progressives and Democrats need to figure out.  How can they behave so as to suck money out of the opposition big money campaigns and still deliver a winning margin of voters to the polls.

    Math-geography-volunteers-personal networks.  Stop marketing and start politicking.   And deconstruct the way the ads are put together so that people can see how they are being manipulated.

    If the political culture in the US does not change in this election, we are going to be in deep trouble.  The major part of current political culture in the US consists of consumer voters (pitched as "taxpayers" not "citizens") and heavy use of media propaganda.  To the point that people do not accept the counsel of their own families anymore.

    I would like more conversation about ways that we can help the Kochs and the other Citizens United geniuses blow away large sums of money.  Return on investment might kill the madness where legislation wouldn't.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Sat May 03, 2014 at 02:44:30 PM PDT

    •  While I agree with you about helping (0+ / 0-)

      Republicans waste money, I have no hope that it will change their behavior, because they are deep in the Cognitive Dissonance described in When Prophecy Fails, by Leon Festinger et al. True believers simply double down when their predictions go awry, making any excuse that comes handy.

      For example, the Unskewing the Polls guy sort of admitted that he had been wrong after Romney lost, and then changed his mind, claiming that he had the polls right but it was voter fraud that made the difference.

      The only hope that we have is that the demographics and the generational shifts in the US mean that the Republican Party will go the way of the Federalists, possibly in about ten years at their measured rate of attrition. The Federalists, the original Party of No to Thomas Jefferson from 1800-1809, were effectively extinct in 1815. It was 18 years before big business and other interests cobbled together the Whigs in opposition to the Democratic-Republicans.

      Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

      by Mokurai on Sun May 04, 2014 at 08:50:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  One party? (0+ / 0-)

        Both parties essentially have the same platform.  They differ on some comparatively minor cultural issues, but not on the overall agenda. Both support upward wealth redistribution coupled with the punitive treatment of our surplus population (jobless poor). They both give the nod to shipping jobs out, castrating unions and pouring the lion's share of the budget into the military. The only difference is their advertising. One advertises to rich campaign donors, and the other advertises to middle class campaign donors. (The poor have absolutely no representation in govt., of course.)

  •  in her first senate race (6+ / 0-)

    barbara boxer was being vastly outspent, all through the summer, and the polls were frighteningly close. then, in the last month, she blitzed the airwaves and won comfortably. she used the same model in her first re-election campaign, when she was a top target, because the conventional wisdom was that she was too liberal to be re-elected.

    ad wars this early rarely matter. let the gop spend and spend and spend. most voters won't even remember, come september.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Sat May 03, 2014 at 02:53:17 PM PDT

  •  I want to unpack something you wrote: (5+ / 0-)
    But there's a better explanation, one that's apparent to people who've quantitatively studied the effect of TV ads: They just don't work, or more accurately, they work for only a short period of time. Their effect on overall poll numbers is small and, more importantly, the effect starts wearing off almost immediately.
    Yes, this is all very true, but...

    Really effective political messaging doesn't just sell you on the immediate point of the ad. It also serves to define terms, and define people. In doing so, it can work to "set up" a candidate for later attacks (or positive depictions), even if the ad's immediate message is lost over time.

    I don't think the mishmash of messages from outside groups, individual campaigns, and the RNC is going to be able to do that, though. They're too all-over-the-place.

    Art is the handmaid of human good.

    by joe from Lowell on Sat May 03, 2014 at 03:00:09 PM PDT

    •  That long-term beneficial effect (3+ / 0-)

      I agree with to an extent, especially with the case of the "Firms" ad that I mentioned above, which did a great job of piggybacking on existing news (the Bain Capital story) to define Romney early as a plutocrat. But then it becomes a question, though, of how we measure how much (if any) slow, gradual effect that had. An ad proponent could say, well, maybe it didn't move the numbers when we ran the ad, but maybe at the same time it inoculated undecideds and it prevented Romney from surging more after the first debate months later. But it's hard to know (I suppose you could try to do an epic controlled experiment where you run the "Firms" ad in some states and not in others, but there's no way to untangle all the intervening variables that pop up over months of campainging); it's just something whose benefit you kind of have to take on faith.

      But then you're getting into that same Mutually Assured Destruction mindset that I talked about, where you're locked into a framework that "oh, we have to do it, because what might happen if we didn't do it (or did less of it)?" Which thus means spending less on stuff like face-to-face GOTV and targeted mailers where we can quantify how well it works.

      Editor, Daily Kos Elections.

      by David Jarman on Sat May 03, 2014 at 04:01:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, our side has to do triage. (0+ / 0-)

        The other side is buried in money, so they can throw it around recklessly.

        Art is the handmaid of human good.

        by joe from Lowell on Sat May 03, 2014 at 04:28:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Money or not (0+ / 0-)

          When a party alienates an entire chunk of their "traditional" base, via the policies they choose, they lose elections. Millions voted for Obama in hopes that he could begin a legitimate discussion about US poverty. That didn't happen, and in the years since, Dems have voted for even more legislation to worsen conditions for low income/poor voters.

      •  Campaign messaging is, in fact, cumulative (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        A good messaging campaign follows a cumulative strategy in the first place.

        So yes, I think joe from Lowell is right.

        I tend to be skeptical of studies like this one by Sides and Vavreck, I don't know that they consider everything comprehensively and holistically, though I think they did better here than most pol sci commentaries do.  These guys in this study at least acknowledged that you have to run ads because unilateral disarmament can kill you.  But they shouldn't have hedged it:  it will kill you.

        Does anyone have any doubt that had OFA and allies not run any ads at all, and Romney and his allies did all the same things they did, that Obama would have lost?  I think only a fool would think he would've won or even run close.  Let's say OFA and allies did the same radio and direct mail that they did, but just jettisoned TV.  I'm still quite confident Obama would've lost.

        I like to point to WI-Sen 2012 as the perfect example of this.  Baldwin was down big vs. Thompson, high single-digits through the summer, but the primary bankrupted Thompson and she went on the air with attack ads that he couldn't challenge (and allies didn't challenge).  She shot up into a big lead, high single-digits, a dramatic shift, in about a month.  That lead eventually shrank but never disappeared after Thompson and allies finally got on the air.  And Baldwin's ads were on Thompson's lobbying and other stuff that was never going to be covered as "news" in free media.  So it was definitely her ads that shifted the race.

        The DSCC and our vulnerable incumbents certainly are hoping that the early GOP allies' money will be wasted.  But that's a hope based on having no options because our side doesn't have the money to match early and still play late.

        46, male, Indian-American, and proud father of a girl and 2 boys, Democrat, VA-10

        by DCCyclone on Sat May 03, 2014 at 08:52:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  just about any GOP tv ad plays on years of radio (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      messaging and alternate reality creation.

      unfortunately the left still does not recognize that and after 25 years of getting our asses kicked by a bunch of ignorant blowhards reading think tank talking points from our community radio stations we still have little response to it.

      This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

      by certainot on Sat May 03, 2014 at 05:02:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  tinkering around the edges (0+ / 0-)

        To win elections, you must look at your party's traditional base and give them a good reason to vote for you. Clinton/Gore alienated a large part of their base, and we ended up with 8 yrs. of Bush. During this administration, Dems have alienated even more of their base, clinging to the anti-FDR/LBJ agenda.

        •  a lot of potential democratic voters and 'independ (0+ / 0-)

          dents' didn't show up for those elections and some even voted for bush, like the dumbshits who's naive 'principled disappointment' in obama in 2010 gave us this shit now, because we allow those 1200 stations to swiftboat our candidates and blanket the country with bullshit like 'al gore says he invented the internet', and kerry was less qualified than silver spooned AWOL bush.

          1200 radio stations getting a free speech free ride is the only reason twits like bush and palin ever get close to the white house and were a big part in selling the notion bush actually was elected. they sure did a lot to lie us into iraq.

          those 1200 coordinated radio stations dominate messaging in many if not most states (with 2 senators).

          considering the timeloston global warming, ignoring rw radio is the biggest political mistake in history.

          This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

          by certainot on Mon May 05, 2014 at 04:40:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Democrats would do well to learn how to brand (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sister Havana, deepeco

    Branding themselves and selling themselves is, in my observation, superior to attack ads. There's always a combo of both, but Coke didn't build its brand by assaulting Pepsi constantly. It put out a particular image that it wanted to sell to the public. Good brands communicate a value that people want to embrace.

    by DAISHI on Sat May 03, 2014 at 03:06:10 PM PDT

  •  MAD----> in the nuclear arms race, the point (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MichaelNY, the autonomist, R30A

    at which it all collapsed was the point when both sides realized that they were spending themselves into oblivion and not gaining anything by it other than maintaining the status quo. It was at that point nuclear-arms reductions could really begin, and soon led to deep cuts in weapon stockpiles that neither side wanted to spend on.

    Mayhaps we will reach the point soon where the two parties come to the same conclusion, and agree to deep mutual arms reductions--regulations that restrict TV ads to a short period just before the election (and mayhaps even using public money to finance them). . . . instead of the pointless months-long spendfest.

    In the end, reality always wins.

    by Lenny Flank on Sat May 03, 2014 at 03:06:17 PM PDT

  •  What are your opinions on the view... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LordMike, MichaelNY

    That Romney was defined early by the Obama camp, and hence failed to recover from that later on, regardless of how much he advertised? Could the same thing happen in 2014 with Obamacare being (mis)defined early in the race, and tying Dem candidates to it?

    •  I think that (4+ / 0-)

      yes, Romney was defined early (and very skillfully), and, yes, he failed to recover later, but it's the "hence" part that I'm not sure about. For Romney to change the overall trajectory of the race would have required things that were outside his control, like a) being a more charismatic person, as well as b) not running against an incumbent and the advantages that creates and c) having a worse economy to run against.

      I think Obamacare was poorly defined by the Dems four or five years ago, and that failure still hurts us today, but the advantages and disadvantages surrounding it are so complicated and convoluted (needlessly so, single payer advocates would probably point out) that it's hard to message well. At any rate, whether the Dems can figure out a better Obamacare message in the next six months (I'd recommend running more positive anecdotes from real people it's helped, but there's been precious little of that so far), it's still only going to be a contributory factor; what's driving the overall trend is, again, stuff that's largely outside the Dems' control: that a) it's a midterm year and the Dems are the presidential party (which, historically, never goes well), along with b) you've got a number of open seats in red states and c) you've got only a so-so economy.

      Editor, Daily Kos Elections.

      by David Jarman on Sat May 03, 2014 at 04:12:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think this is hard to prove either way. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I don't see how it's consistent with the "rapid decay" evidence.  AFAIK, advertising does matter more when candidates are unknown (thus "defining" them).

      Hm, let's see...looking at the polls, Romney's favorability more or less rose throughout the campaign, and by the end he was on positive ground.  His unfavorability rose around February and more-or-less stayed constant after that.  I would assume a lot of that was the Republican nomination battle.

       photo Favorability_zps22839f48.png

      27, Dem, Dude seeing a dude, CT-04(originally), PA-02/NY-10 (formerly PA-02/NY-12, then PA-02/NY-14). Also at

      by Xenocrypt on Sat May 03, 2014 at 04:25:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Unlikely (0+ / 0-)

      Millions of working people rely on Obamacare. It would be hard to convince them to give it up for more expensive, and less comprehensive, health care.

  •  One of the things that's changing (4+ / 0-)

    is that DVR (and similar technologies) make it far easier for a lot of voters to tune out the TV ads.  What difference are they making if your average voter is fast-forwarding through all the commercials anyway?

    I suspect, though, that the effect of all the campaign money is less on who wins the election than it is on how politicians behave and vote once they're in office.  The Koch brothers may not have actually helped Scott Walker get elected, but they've effectively made him their bitch once he's been in office.

    29, white male, TX-07 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

    by TDDVandy on Sat May 03, 2014 at 03:56:33 PM PDT

    •  True dat, but even if I listened to that crap (0+ / 0-)

      i.e. political ads monochromatically painting their candidate as a saint and the other guy as the devil, I wouldn't be swayed by BS. My HDR takes care of that stuff and all the other advertising tossed out for my index finger to skip.

      I don't listen and I thin a lot of younger types don't bother with TeeVee at all, just webheads, Netflix, etc. So, they too are unswayed.

      Even less effective are brochures and mailings, just looking at two: one an anti-GMO prop that I already support and a Republican candidate for state senate. Even though I know the guy personally, I've made up my mind to vote against him. No piece of dead tree is going to convince me to vote otherwise.

      What stronger breast-plate than a heart untainted! Thrice is he arm'd, that hath his quarrel just; And he but naked, though lock'd up in steel, Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted. Henry VI Part II Act 3 Scene 2

      by TerryDarc on Sat May 03, 2014 at 05:25:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  or Netflix, the only way I watch TV (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I only see online ads by chance, or TV ads when I purposely watch them on youtube.

      The first man who, having enclosed a piece of land, took it into his head to say, "This is mine," and found people simple enough to believe him, was the true founder of civil society. - Rousseau, Discourse on Inequality Among Men

      by James Allen on Sat May 03, 2014 at 08:16:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Walker (0+ / 0-)

      This could have an impact if he were a candidate for president, and that's not going to happen. WI took a hard right turn with Thompson in the 1980s. They took a break with conservative Democrat Doyle, the went back to the  right wing extreme with Walker. We currently have a number of legislators who are so far to the right that they can be regarded as fascists. We've had years of right wing rule, and it shows. Family farms have fallen like dominos (no longer "America's Dairy State"), and most of our thriving manufacturing jobs have been shipped out. But it's a near certainty that Walker will be re-elected.

  •  I really do believe that most people don't even (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sister Havana, Diana in NoVa

    see the ads anymore. Between cable cutting and time shifting  the days of tv ads are numbered ad there's no getting around that. Given that I almost think that it's a much better return to have a strong GOTV and volunteer outreach than spending money on ads.

    Der Weg ist das Ziel

    by duhban on Sat May 03, 2014 at 04:39:22 PM PDT

  •  only thing keeping GOP in the game is their radio (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MichaelNY, hawkseye

    advantage, and sadly the left has had very little response to it for the last 20 years.

    But there's a better explanation, one that's apparent to people who've quantitatively studied the effect of TV ads: They just don't work, or more accurately, they work for only a short period of time.
    not only are tv ads subject to fact checking and correction, with the possibility of being used in counter-ads, they cost money.

    talk radio is largely unchallenged and uncorrected, relatively unmonitored by the left, ubiquitous, and free once ads have paid station and blowhard costs.

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Sat May 03, 2014 at 04:54:45 PM PDT

  •  I wonder if (0+ / 0-)

    the U.S. is finally waking up to the canards of the past forty years.  The cynical ploy of playing the religious card, the hate speach card, the scapegoat card . . . I wonder if we've reached a saturation point.  

  •  It's all about the narrative (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    True enough, so long as the early ads don't set the narrative and the tone of the campaign to come.

    AND, so long as WE fight back -- with a coordinated NATIONAL message.

    To be sure, not necessarily everywhere, but enough to that it seeps through.

    Nobody is going to be "fooled" into voting for a Democrat. And with the death of earmarks, local issues just don't have the resonance they used to.

    That was another brilliant electoral stroke of the GOP. The Democrats obsession with "all politics is local" has a playbook that is written with blank pages in 2014. When they got rid of earmarks, there isn't a whole lot even a Senator can do to bring goodies to their constituents.

    That was FINE for the GOP, since for the most part they've been running NATIONAL campaigns since the mid-80's, and we only get with the program during presidential elections for obvious reasons.

    The more we push national issues, the more we win.


    Because not only are we right on all the major issues, but all the GOP has to offer is obstruction. Is that a winning issue with a country facing critical issues...?

    What separates us, divides us, and diminishes the human spirit.

    by equern on Sun May 04, 2014 at 12:54:52 AM PDT

  •  down the ballot (0+ / 0-)

    As suggested, Senate races might be different because of the smaller amounts of money and lower name recognition. I wonder if the negligible effect of advertising holds true further down the ballot, like what if someone ran TV ads for a state legislative race? It's just a suspicion on my part that presidential elections are unique. Though just as I typed that, I recalled how heavily Obama invested in ground game, really making the model.

  •  Republican win? (0+ / 0-)

    Our better off remain oblivious to a crucial factor in the upcoming elections. America has a poverty crisis. Not everyone can work, and there aren't jobs for all who urgently need one. The US shipped out a huge number of working class jobs, then Clinton ended welfare aid. You can't get a job once you no longer have a home address, phone, bus fare. Lib media waves the Middle Class Only banner (albeit with an occasional nod to the working poor). Dem pols declare their allegiance specifically to the middle class. Millions voted for Obama on the chance that he could launch a legitimate discussion about America's poverty crisis. That didn't happen.  With the latest budget, Dems voted with Republicans to cut food stamps to the elderly, disabled and working poor (the jobless poor don't qualify for any poverty relief). Again. Lib media promotes H. Clinton, instead of VP Joe Biden. H. Clinton -- a powerful lobbyist for NAFTA (cause of  significant job loss). When B. Clinton threw the jobless poor off the cliff, we ended up with 8 yrs of Bush, elected by the middle class. The poor (and those who know why US poverty is a crucial issue) voted third party or withheld their votes. We can expect a repeat of Gore/Bush, with the middle class voting Republican.

  •  I am with the pundits who say..... (0+ / 0-)

    To own the Healthcare Law.  You are never going to get the Tea sell yourself on your own agenda and accomplishments, and better yet, start tooting the big horn on how important it is to get out there and vote, now that Obama's NOT on the Ballot.

  •  Single women need to vote (0+ / 0-)

    in non-presidential election years.

    I heard a report on NPR a few days ago.  Apparently single women vote overwhelmingly Democratic ---they are concerned with many Democratic election issues including, women's health issues, child-care, birth control, wage-inequality, widening economic gap, etc.

    The big problem is that many of them vote only in presidential elections.

    If they don't come out to vote this year, many elections will go to Republicans.

    So, all you single women out there, talk to your friends, offer to accompany them to the polls this year, and vote.

  •  As never before ... (0+ / 0-)

    It ahs never been more important than this upcoming mid-term to get the ...

    ★★★★★ Souls to the polls ★★★★★

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