Battleground Massachusetts

Came across this ad running against Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts by Crossroads GPS, and while I’m not sure I have a lot to say about it, I wanted to comment on it anyway.

Execution wise, there is nothing particularly interesting about the ad.  What attracted me to it was the message.

Step 1: State the problem — no jobs, ok, I’m with you so far…

Step 2: Attack Elizabeth Warren for not focusing on jobs…, and siding with Occupy Wall Street.

Maybe they have some polling that shows this to be a good strategy.  I’ve said before Massachusetts is more blue collar Democrat than lefty liberal Democrat. But I see reveal problems with the approach:

First Warren isn’t even in elected office, so hitting her on jobs seems problematic at best, and at worse, it raises the issue for Senator Scott Brown, who has just voted against fairly popular job’s bill.

Second, the shots of Occupy Wall Street are so fast, you really don’t see the “drug use” and the attacking police shot, looks like police are attacking the protestors (on top of the stories of police abuse of protestors that have become youtube hits). Again it looks like you’re undermining your own cause there.

Third, the heavy handed language feels like something out of the 60’s not the 10’s. “We need jobs, not intellectual theories and radical protests,” wow, hell I would even agree with that, but what the heck does it mean?  Put another way, who is this add aimed at? To my ear it’s aimed at Tea Party members trying to shore up the base, but I wonder would they ever vote for Warren.

So if the ad is more likely aimed at middle class/blue collar independents, who typically vote Democrat, but swung to Brown last election, then I think it’s mis-calibrated. The language is too harsh and steeped in conservative lexicon (intellectual theories, radical protests, extreme left protests), it’s like their so inside their own bubble, they can’t put themselves inside some else’s head.

I may be wrong, but I think most independents see Occupy Wall Street somewhat favorably, even if they’re unsure about them. This ad leaves no place for them to go, pushing the extreme liberal angle so hard, that I can’t help but feel like folks would reject it out of hand.

If this is the attack they want to make, I think a softer touch would be more effective:  Link Warren to Occupy Wall Street and hint at their extreme nature (maybe mention the name with visuals of the protestors acting up), and let folks fill in the blank.  Maybe the best description of this ad is tone deaf. If this is how Crossroads GPS is going to spend it’s mountain of cash this election season, Democrats can breath a sigh of relief.

[Post-Script] The other problem with this ad it’s way to easy to deflect the attack. In this case, done particularly eloquently by David Donnelly, the director of the watchdog group Campaign Money Watch, “This is an ad by the one percent, for the one percent.”

Also worth a read is Greg Sargent’s post which debunks the truthfulness of the ad and specifically the Schoen Poll cited in the ad.

 

 

 

 

 

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3 Responses to “Battleground Massachusetts”

  1. jj Says:

    this ain’t a pretty ad – but you’re going to see this frame against her again and again… warren = campus radical. its a very reasonable execution of that frame. it has potential to inflict damage.

  2. Adam Strasberg Says:

    I think it could work… but it’s not going to work if they hit her on it ineffectively, that essentially inoculates her to the charge. So the frame may stick, but using such loaded language seems to make it both overtly political and very partisan.

    On top of that I think the response “this is an ad by the one percent for the one percent” further disarms the ad.

    Also, the frame of unemployed v. Occupy seems to confuse the ad rather than made it more clear. If they just went after her for being a pointy headed radical intellectual, go for it, but bringing in the unemployment angle feels like a poll driven ad gone wrong.

  3. Adam Strasberg Says:

    Greg Sargent splits the difference:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/post/elizabeth-warren-responds-to-crossroads-ad-sorry-not-backing-down/2011/11/10/gIQAer5C9M_blog.html

    “Note that Warren is refusing to engage the argument the way the right has framed it — as an all or nothing choice between embracing everything about the protests, or repudiating them. Warren and her campaign probably recognize the political danger of getting drawn into debating that false choice.

    Instead, she’s keeping the focus on the larger critique of inequality and excessive Wall Street influence embodied by the protests, and directing the conversation towards the broader public’s rising anxiety about these pernicious problems.”

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