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Ad Wars: Begich's 'Car Wash'

Sometimes a television advertisement can say more than any speech.

Take Barack Obama's "Moment" ad during the primary season or John McCain's "624787" ad.

Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (D), who is challenging Sen. Ted Stevens (R) this fall, is up with a new ad that fits into that same category -- using the power of a 30-second television ad to effectively deliver the message that the corruption of its public officials is hurting the state.

Here's the ad:

Why does it work? Because it looks different than most ads; it's not just a candidate looking into a camera and telling voters why the incumbent is bad. Instead, Begich's media consultants -- Mark Putnam and Steve Murphy -- decided to show rather than tell voters about the problems in the state and its impact on their daily lives.

An ongoing federal investigation into influence-peddling by an oil and gas company has ravaged the state Republican party and led to the raiding of Stevens' home by federal investigators.

That investigation has led to a series of indictments of Republican state legislators and has served as the impetus for the takeover of the state GOP by reform-minded politicians led by Gov. Sarah Palin.

Stevens, who has served in the Senate since 1968, is very much a part of the old guard that Begich is proposing to clean out. While Begich does not directly refer to Stevens by name in the ad (although the guy at the end bears more than a passing resemblance to the senator), it's clear that the Democrat is hoping to lump Stevens in with the brand problems of the state Republican party.

Public polling suggests Begich's ad will find a receptive audience. A new poll conducted by Research 2000 for the liberal website Daily Kos showed Begich at 47 percent to 45 percent for Stevens -- a statistical dead heat. More troubling for the incumbent were his favorable ratings. Just 36 percent of voters said they felt favorably toward him while 61 percent said they felt unfavorably; among independents, the numbers were even more stark -- 30 percent favorable to 66 percent unfavorable.

By Chris Cillizza  |  July 22, 2008; 2:25 PM ET
Categories:  Ad Wars  
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