Friday, August 15, 2008

The Obama Campaign and the Timing of Negative Ads

Over the last several days there have been reports of more and more negative ads coming out from the Obama campaign. There are two negative radio ads playing in Wisconsin and Ohio; a negative television ad in Ohio aimed at the potential DHL job cuts; a negative television ad in Indiana on the economy; a negative television ad in Nevada on the proposed Yucca mountain nuclear waste disposal facility; and the ad titled "Embrace" which depict as a Washington inside celebrity.

Now, of course, none of these ads are getting the attention of the Beltway pundits, at least not to the extent of McCain's ads attacking Obama as a celebrity. They are flying below the radar, seemingly aimed at key states where Obama is either slightly ahead (Ohio); slightly behind (Nevada); or states which Obama is attempting to put into play (Indiana).

This lack of relative attention may be the point. On the one hand all the publicity about the Paris Hilton/Britney Spears ad helped McCain. On the other hand, according to polls like one from Pew Research, the public perceives McCain as running more negative ads than Obama. By waiting until McCain went negative first, the Obama campaign looks like it is only responding to McCain's own negativity.

The reason why that is important is that there has been a lot of chatter from the talking heads that if Obama goes negative he runs the risk of looking as something "different". According to the talking heads this appearance of "different" is what attracts relatively younger voters to his cause. (Such an analysis, by the way, is rather insulting to younger voters. Here's a thought: maybe, just maybe, they are fed up with a government that gets us tied down in a needless war in Iraq; transfers billions of dollars from the poor and middle class to the wealthy; and can't even competently run the goverment.)

So, this way, Obama has the best of both worlds. His campaign gets to run negative ads, but doesn't take the heat for being the ones to initially go negative. So, the question is, was this intentional or was it just luck?

We will probably never know, or if ever do know, it will be long after the campaign when people are writing their memoirs. Given the intelligent way, however, the Obama campaign has conducted itself so far, it probably was very intentional.


Anonymous said...

I think that the negative ads coming from McCain against Obama are wonderful. Each one makes McCain look only worse. Also...that schmuck look on McCains face at the end of the commercials looking as if to say: ha ha nanner nanner with his nose in the air are priceless...they make me laugh out loud AT him each and everytime. I hope Obama does not get too negative in his ads against McCain or we will forget that McCain is the underdog for doing it as his main menu.

Cee Jay said...

Obama should not get bogged down in answering these ads. He needs to get back on message and talk about the issues. I would rather see fewer ads with more substance than a bunch of stupid ads that feed into the sensationalism of the talking heads on the cable news stations. Ross Perot paid for TV time to actually inform the nation. Maybe the Obama campaign and the Democratic party could make better use of their ad money. I was surprised to see that Ross is still around.