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Screen capture of Americans for Prosperity ad attacking Nick Rahall for voting for the Affordable Care Act.
Koch brothers might as well be lighting their money on fire.
From the Live Elections Digest:
10:12 AM PT: WV-03: An Anzalone Liszt Grove internal from Rep. Nick Rahall's campaign, obtained by The Hill, is now the third straight poll to show strong numbers for the Democrat. ALG finds Rahall up 53-39 on Republican state Sen. Evan Jenkins, similar to the 52-40 Rahall edge that Garin Hart Yang posted last month, and not far off DFM Research's 48-39 lead for Rahall a few weeks ago. Rahall also sports a 56-39 favorability rating, which is pretty remarkable given the onslaught in Koch ads he's faced. (Jenkins, meanwhile, stands at an even 25-25.)
Regular readers know that I no longer believe that outside spending on negative ads has much impact on the race. I discuss the issue vis a vis Sen. Sherrod Brown here, the current Senate race in Michigan here and the overall Senate battleground here.

In short, negative attack ads are designed to damage a candidate's favorability ratings. That's it. An unpopular George W. Bush won re-election in 2004 by making John Kerry even more unpopular than he was. But in recent times, the tactic is objectively not working. The targets are not bleeding favorabilities. People are tuning out those ads, or fast-forwarding past them, or watching Netflix, or otherwise ignoring them. Maybe we are so stratified between the two teams (Dems and GOPers) that no ad will change any minds, at least not in a general election (primaries are a whole other ball of wax).

However, my theory only applied to presidential and Senate races, where the candidates were known well enough to withstand negative rebranding efforts. The House? There simply isn't enough data to suggest things one way or another. But that polling from WV-03 sure is suggestive.

By December 2013, Rahall was facing over $350,000 in attack ads from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the conservative American Energy Alliance. By February, the Koch brothers had dumped another $250,000 against him. By late April, Koch spending in the race had exceeded $1 million.

Yet despite the onslaught in this inexpensive media market in one of the redder districts held by a Democrat (PVI R+6), Rahall's favorables appear unscathed, sporting a comfortable lead over his Republican opponent.

It's just one data point, sure, but one that suggests once again that all that outside money isn't as scary as we once thought.

Originally posted to kos on Tue May 20, 2014 at 10:40 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  it is like Koch Brothers hydrochlorothiazide (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mungley, IB JOHN, TomP, whl

    only it is a political campaign funding, candidate-buying political diuretic we're being subjected to.

  •  Not sure this is what you meant. (11+ / 0-)

    Your post says:

    Rahall's favorables appear unscathed, sporting a comfortable lead over his Democratic opponent.
    You meant Republican opponent, right?
    Maybe I misread.
  •  I agree. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP, whl, Gentle Giant, sethtriggs, Shawn87

    I think that media ads aren't that effective any more. People pay more attention to Facebook and Twitter. The Koch goons (and most GOP candidates) are clueless on those things.

    Yes, DailyKos DOES have puzzles! Visit us here Saturday nights @ 5:00 PDT (easier puzzles) and Sunday nights @ 5:00 PDT (more challenging) for a group solving. Even if you just pop in and comment while watching the fun, everybody is welcome. uid:21352

    by pucklady on Tue May 20, 2014 at 10:57:29 AM PDT

  •  THINGS GO BETTER WITH KOCH KOS!!!... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IB JOHN, whl, Shawn87

    or so it's been reported.

  •  If they just paid what they spend on tax avoidance (10+ / 0-)

    in taxes, everyone would be a lot happier.

    The Koch brothers must really hate America to piss away so much money trying to damage us.

    "And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover, And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over." - John Masefield

    by mungley on Tue May 20, 2014 at 11:02:22 AM PDT

    •  I'm almost sure that it's not their money they're (6+ / 0-)

      pissing away.

    •  Their daddy, Fred Koch (9+ / 0-)

      made his first few million building oil refineries for Stalin, and was never able to wash away the guilt, no matter how hard he doubled down on his later John Birchery. He taught the brothers that FDR, the New Deal, taxes, unions, and regulation are all the "collectivist" equivalent of Joseph Stalin, as F. A. Hayek expounded in The Road to Serfdom. Hayek claimed that the British National Health System would inevitably, infallibly result in Stalinist tyranny in the UK.

      In order to understand what follows from all of that, you need the observations laid out in When Prophecy Fails, by Festinger et al., and the theory of Cognitive Dissonance he and his colleagues built up from that incident and other evidence. Short version: When True Believers confront the disconnect between their beliefs and an obviously failed prediction, they double down on their beliefs and latch on to any excuse they can think of for the failure.

      Hypothesis: The polls are skewed, and Romney is really winning in 2012. Fact: Romney lost. Initial reaction: The polls weren't skewed when they showed Romney behind. Second reaction: The polls were so skewed, and Romney lost because of voter fraud.

      Hypothesis: Obama is a Socialist. Fact: Obama wants us to invest in infrastructure and jobs. Reaction: That's evil collectivism. Obama is a Stalinist.

      Hypothesis: The Koch brothers are the only ones who know how to save America, and it will take a large portion of their fossil-fueled fortune to accomplish it. Fact: Wind and solar power are going to replace coal and other fossil carbon fuels. Reaction: Teh evulz!!! Anthropogenic Global Warming is a conspiracy and a hoax!

      The brothers are totally devoted to the Bircherite anti-Communist vision of America. They actually believe that they are doing this for our good as well as their own. The total failure of the US to become Stalin's Soviet Union is denied and excused a hundred ways from Sunday, as the Conspiracy Theories multiply.

      The only way out of this is for enough of the children of the various far Right factions to fall away, as they are doing at the measured rate of several million annually.

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

      by Mokurai on Tue May 20, 2014 at 11:45:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Koch's pissing away money? (9+ / 0-)

    Is this the Trickle-Down-Economics thing I've heard so much about?

    I'm not serious. Seriously.

    by IB JOHN on Tue May 20, 2014 at 11:11:50 AM PDT

  •  Might as well. What good is it being the riche$t (4+ / 0-)

    corpse in the graveyard?

    They can afford to bet on EVERY horse in the race.

    Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
    I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
    —Spike Milligan

    by polecat on Tue May 20, 2014 at 11:17:29 AM PDT

  •  The Koch Brothers tried to buy a Supreme Ct in NC (11+ / 0-)

    They spent about $500,000.00.

    I think what they accomplished is to piss everyone in the state off.

    The highest form of spiritual practice is self observation with compassion.

    by NCJim on Tue May 20, 2014 at 11:21:45 AM PDT

  •  If you haven't watch "Koch Brothers Exposed" (8+ / 0-)

    do yourself a favor and watch it. The 2014 2nd edition comes out today. If you weren't already enraged enough about these evil brothers, this will make your blood boil.

    America is a COUNTRY, not a CORPORATION. She doesn't need a CEO. Vote Obama.

    by manneckdesign on Tue May 20, 2014 at 11:24:45 AM PDT

  •  It's the DVR era, man. (6+ / 0-)

    I can't recall anyone else pointing this out other than Kos.

    "See? I'm not a racist! I have a black friend!"

    by TheHalfrican on Tue May 20, 2014 at 11:28:13 AM PDT

    •  For Voters Under 50-60 It Is. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Stude Dude, Leo Flinnwood

      A huge amount of political spending is still aimed primarily at the Americans who vote, who generally speaking have gray hair and haven't gotten used to Negroes being all over the place they never were before.

      Those who use cell phones and follow popular music mostly don't vote.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Tue May 20, 2014 at 11:45:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Huh? (0+ / 0-)

        Are you seriously saying that people over 60 don't own cell phones or DVRs? My 84-year-old mother has both. So did my father before he died at the age of 91. So do my in-laws aged 88 and 93. Every person I know over age 60 has a cell phone unless they're suffering from dementia. And all those who can afford the added expense have DVRs. DVRs are much easier to use than setting the clock on the old DVD player.

        Seriously, man, what kind of old people do you know? Are they all sitting in wheelchairs in the nursing home drooling on themselves?

  •  Not scary when they don't have anything to say (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    whl, Gentle Giant, Shawn87

    If they had a viable positive alternative viewpoint to promote, I'd bet outside money would be much more effective.

    Clearly, what has happened is that the use of the word Gestapo has clouded my message.
    - Maine Gov. Paul LePage

    by clinging to hope on Tue May 20, 2014 at 11:29:47 AM PDT

    •  Maybe not so much a "positive" alternative (0+ / 0-)

      but more nearly a substantial presence of "like-minded voters" who buy into the negatives.

      I've seen outside NRA money drastically raise the negatives in both House and Senate campaigns and defeat incumbents because there were enough gun rights "believers" among the voters.

      I've seen outside Chamber of Commerce money skyrocket the negatives of 2 liberal Democrats in a primary field of a solo GOoPer against the Dems, one Indie, and one Green, which left the rethuglican running against the Indie.

      If the electorate contains enough Tali-baggers and Jesus poppers, then the Koch Bros. money may have a good chance to drive out Democratic candidates.

      We're all just working for Pharaoh.

      by whl on Tue May 20, 2014 at 11:45:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'd like to believe we're seeing evidence of (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shawn87

    a national trend leftward, but I'm still seeing so much ramped-up partisanship. I do take heart that more people are finally recognizing the republican playbook is mighty thin and basically consists of doing nothing but obstruction.

    Personally, a LOT of my rightie friends have grown very quiet. They're getting a gander at the emperor's new clothes.

    "Non-violence is a powerful and just weapon which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

    by Gentle Giant on Tue May 20, 2014 at 11:37:40 AM PDT

  •  Is this what happens when you inherit your (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nocynicism, Older and Wiser Now

    billions rather than work for them?

    You don't have a clue how the real world works and you lack all semblance of common sense?  At least - while otherwise utterly wasted - these Oligarch simoleons will be spent in the US.

    Know that $20 I owe you? Well, since money equals speech, then speech, of course, must equal money. C'mere and I'll read you the Tao Te Ching.

    by thenekkidtruth on Tue May 20, 2014 at 11:40:23 AM PDT

  •  Negative ads SUPPRESS turnout (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brown Thrasher, Shawn87, bywaterbob

    I suppose, in a perfect instance, a negative ad would "bleed positivity" from a candidate, but I think negative campaigning's actual goal is entirely non-persuasive and non-rhetorical.

    The pragmatic target of negative advertising is simply to get a candidate's supporters to stay at home. It can do this by hitting the "they're all the same" note or the "this candidate will be no improvement" note as well as the "this candidate is objectionable" note.

    I don't think negative ads even try to convince viewers that they're true. They just want people to stay at home or work on election day.

    Since Democrats out-number Republicans, Republicans love negative ads.

    "man, proud man,/ Drest in a little brief authority,. . . Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven/ As make the angels weep; who, with our spleens,/ Would all themselves laugh mortal." -- Shakespeare, Measure for Measure II ii, 117-23

    by The Geogre on Tue May 20, 2014 at 11:46:42 AM PDT

  •  Plutocrats are succeeding (0+ / 0-)

    Kos does not seem to have been paying attention. The Tea Party movement was kicked off from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and it has been supported all along by big-money interests. In some cases the crackpot candidates of the Tea Party itself, or other extremists, have gotten nominated and then lost when a more moderate candidate would have had a better chance. But overall the Republican party has moved to the right and it has certainly not given up the main plutocratic objectives. For example, its resistance to tax increases is probably greater than ever. Despite what looks to Kos and other liberals like self-destructive behavior the Republican Party has a good chance of taking back the Senate and will certainly retain the House in 2014. If you can ignore the defeat of the most extreme candidates in primaries it certainly looks like the Plutocrats' strategies and expenditures are paying off.

  •  Then why does Harry want to change (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    brightlights

    the Constitution?

    It's just one data point, sure, but one that suggests once again that all that outside money isn't as scary as we once thought.

    "When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains, And the women come out to cut up what remains, Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains An' go to your Gawd like a soldier." Rudyard Kipling

    by EdMass on Tue May 20, 2014 at 11:51:23 AM PDT

  •  What he said... (0+ / 0-)

    "Maybe we are so stratified between the two teams (Dems and GOPers) that no ad will change any minds, at least not in a general election..."

    We're in a real nasty partisan polarization period in American history.  When Reagan took over America, Republicans began to think of "ruling" as their birthright.  Now, changing demographics are making it very hard for them to maintain that, and they are fighting back to the bitter end.  Eventually, they'll adapt to the new reality.  The Left will get fat, and hubris will prevail.  Then, maybe we'll be back to the pre-2000's, when the electoral college outcome of all but 5-6 states wasn't pre-ordained regardless of who the candidates are, and what's going on in the country.

    I kind of miss living in a country where 1964 and 1984 can both happen.  That place is gone, at last for a while.  Now, we spend billions to try to move the needle a smidgen in a number of states that you can count on your fingers (of one hand). We're Ohio State and Michigan, now,...never to cross the aisle to support the other team.

  •  Mistake: His "republican" opponent (0+ / 0-)

    you say "democratic" opponent in the 2nd-to-last para, obviously Rahall is the dem.

  •  Information is now instantly available (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greendem, bywaterbob

    Back when W was running, only younger voters got information from the internet (with exceptions of course).

    Now, everyone uses the internet. Everyone has it on their phone. When they see an add by the Koch bro's, they can look up the facts instantly.

    Its the same reason the ACA is working, that people dont care about #bengazi! and that people like Grimes can actually win.

    The Republicans have made a living by deceit, but it is much harder to deceive now then it was and it is catching up with them.

    The threat to our way of life comes from corporations, and the solution is to shrink corporations while freeing government from corporate control.

    by gbaked on Tue May 20, 2014 at 12:05:22 PM PDT

    •  Is it possible they are just bad at it (0+ / 0-)

      I agree completely that  outside negative ad campaigns have been woefully ineffective to date, but they have almost completely been one sided. There haven't been many examples of Dem oriented Pacs spending at anywhere near the same level to give us much to compare. Harry Reid's Pac spending in the big races in the south seems to be moving the needle. They aren't ridiculous and childish in tone like all the Koch ads seem to be. Maybe the voters are more discerning than we think, or maybe the tone of Republican ads causes the voter to simply tune them out. While we have too few samples to make definitive conclusions so far our ads seem to work and theirs don't. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in this election cycle.

      Patriotism is the last refuge to which a scoundrel clings. Steal a little and they throw you in jail. Steal a lot and they make you king.... Dylan

      by bywaterbob on Tue May 20, 2014 at 01:05:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What about governors? (0+ / 0-)

    I've been thinking I noticed the same thing, that massive advertizing wasn't affecting Senate races, so maybe presidential and Senate races just aren't as vulnerable to outside spending as down ballot races. But how far down the ballot? I would have guessed they would be effective in House races because a few hundred thousand extra dollars is a big portion of overall spending. Governors are in between, being statewide like senators but campaign spending is generally much less. I'm guessing there's a gray area where massive outside spending moved from being effective to ineffective, and president and Senate are on the ineffective side whereas local races are profoundly impacted. I'm guessing House and Governor are the line.

  •  Nick Rahall in West Virginia (0+ / 0-)

    I live in this district. Rahall works hard for his district, and people know that if they have a problem with any feature of the government, Rahall's staff can help out, at least with teaching you how the program is supposed to work.

    I've seen the ads for Evan Jenkins, and against Nick Rahall. The ads are straight from the 1960s, both in content (stupid) and in style (ugly).

    I get phone polled once a month to see who I approve of (President Obama and Congressman Rahall), who I last voted for (same), and who I'm gonna vote for in the next election (Congressman Rahall). I missed voting in an election NEVER - it's an obligation for people who live in a democracy to vote every time.

    Well, I take that back, one time the school board's excess levy election (which always passes easily, always) was held in a sleet storm when I had to be  out of the county that day for work. The levy passed by a large majority, and I sighed in relief.

    I don't think  Rahall has too much to worry about. I even think some of those progressive women running in red states will do pretty well. I'm an optimist, aka realist.

  •  When do we start to really fight them? (0+ / 0-)

    Their money can be used against them. A national campaign that says over and over and over again: "Don't let the Koch's buy your vote" and then identifies every ad they support (including Americans for Prosperity and other front groups) and identifies every politician who serves ALEC as a Koch puppet is needed. Simple, fast, over and over and over again.

    The only thing they cannot buy is anonymity. We can defeat them.

  •  It's about controlling the GOP (0+ / 0-)

    Win or lose GOP candidates are dependent of Koch cash and to them Nixon and Reagan were dirty hippies.
    David Koch ran against Reagan in '80

  •  I'm Rather Surprised to See - (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    brightlights

    Concern over a West Virginia congressional district and its representative considering how profoundly hostile this website is towards the coal industry.

    A generation ago, southern West Virginia used to be one of the strongest Democratic bastions in the country. In the 2012 presidential election EVERY county in West Virginia went for Romney - including McDowell which was 64% GOP. In 1988, West Virginia was one of only 10 states that voted Democratic - with McDowell going 74% for Dukakis. Excuse my French - but that's a pretty big, fucking shift.

    Perhaps it might behoove some of the folks around here to ask themselves why. Yeah, the coal corporations are sons-of-bitches. But there was once a time when the national Democratic Party did something for the coal workers and their families. Now they are treated as pariahs and, not surprisingly, they vote increasingly GOP - which blows my lunch.

    Rahall might survive, but with a high visibility senate race in West Virginia this year, the rhetoric on Democratic energy policy is going to be heated. And it will work to the disadvantage of all Democratic candidates for U.S. House and Senate.

  •  There is a saturation point (0+ / 0-)

    It's been clear for a few cycles now that, while you need big money to compete, there comes a point where additional dollars add no real value.

    This became particularly clear in the 2008 Presidential election where the right (Koch's, Adelson, etc) threw all sorts of money at Obama but it made no difference whatsoever.

    What this means to me is that the worst fears of big money in American politics... straight out selling of office to the highest bidder... does not come true... we are still left with a system where offices are owned and paid for by an elite class of society and unavailable to the rest of us (99% of us).

    We still need radical reform in campaign finance laws in America. Our "demcoracy" is dying as a result of the current set-up.

    "Do what you can with what you have where you are." - Teddy Roosevelt

    by Andrew C White on Tue May 20, 2014 at 01:28:31 PM PDT

  •  So the net result is only economic stimulus? (0+ / 0-)

    They say that bullshit makes a great fertilizer.

    ------
    Ideology is when you think you know the answers before you know the questions.
    It infests hollow spaces where intelligence has died.

    by Alden on Tue May 20, 2014 at 02:24:31 PM PDT

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