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Early campaign ads: Sign of preparedness or weakness? Or both.

Democratic Reps. Tom Perriello (Va.) and Gabrielle Giffords (Ariz.)launched their first ads of the 2010 general election this week, joining a handful of Democratic incumbents who are on the air far earlier than in a normal campaign cycle in an attempt to blunt the anti-incumbent mood in the country.

In addition to Perriello and Giffords, Reps. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.) and Zack Space (D-Ohio) have already run television ads seeking to re-introduce themselves to voters before their opponents do so.

The four incumbents have much in common. They are all running in districts Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) carried in 2008; they are all top GOP targets with highly touted Republican opponents; and, they have all stocked away money -- lots of money -- to get a jump on the competition. At the end of March, Giffords had nearly $2 million in the bank. Perriello and Pomeroy each had $1.5 million, and Space had $1.3 million.

So will the Democratic strategy of "early and often" when it comes to television ads work?

A look at some of the earliest ads in the 2006 and 2008 cycles shows the incumbents who followed that strategy had mixed track records.

In 2006, Reps. Nancy Johnson (R-Conn.) and Chris Chocola (R-Ind.) went on the air early in the summer months and went on to lose. Rep. Thelma Drake (R-Va.) went up on television in early June and won. She lost to Rep. Glenn Nye (D) two years later. (All three had been targeted by "red-handed" ads from

In 2008, early commercials couldn't save Michigan Republican Rep. Tim Walberg but they helped Reps. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Sam Graves (R-Mo.) define their opponents early and win in swing districts.

Graves' odd first ad linked former Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes (D) to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her "San Francisco values." Though it featured actors who looked more like 80s caricatures than hipster liberals, by launching it in May, Graves set a tone and drove home a message that helped him destroy the well-regarded Barnes by 22 points.

Kirk won plaudits for his 2008 win in a district that went for President Obama with 61 percent. Democrats acknowledge Kirk ran a great campaign in his rematch with 2006 candidate Dan Seals.

Like Kirk, the four Democrats up with early ads this cycle have faced tough battles before, and all but Pomeroy won their seats recently. Knowing the type of race ahead is half the battle for many members, and it's little surprise that those who have faced tough races before are the first ones on the air. (The Boy Scout motto of "be prepared" is also one of the fundamental rules of politics.)

Pomeroy, facing his first real electoral challenge since early last decade, went up with his first general election ad in April (!). He tapped his war chest early and sought to frame the debate with state Rep. Rick Berg (R) before Berg was even his party's nominee. But Berg will be financially competitive. He announced Thursday that he raised more than half a million dollars in the second quarter -- a strong sum for a challenger.

Giffords is in a similar situation. Even though the GOP favorite, former state Sen. Jonathan Paton, faces a primary, she recognizes his fundraising momentum and is getting a jump on the general election with her new ad.

Space is the only one of the four who has gone negative so far. His first ad goes after GOP nominee state Sen. Bob Gibbs. has labeled the ad "misleading," and an Ohio elections commission panel has agreed to take up a complaint against Space.

Perriello's ad creatively shows the freshman congressman getting dirty (literally) while visiting all sorts of different job sites. It closes with the congressman, shirt stained, saying no one will work harder for jobs than he will.

History suggests that early ads are not guarantor for future victories. But, in an election as volatile as this one, the best/only course for incumbents to take is to get out in front of the anger and frustration of voters before it rolls them under.

This quartet is doing their level best to do just that. But will it work?

-- Aaron Blake

By The Fix  |  July 2, 2010; 3:10 PM ET
Categories:  House  
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In John McCain's case it's signs of weakness. McCain is having his wife "buying" him numerous campaign commercials just for the primary. I don't think it matters much in McCain's case. The people are just fed up with the dirty campaign that he's running. They're also tired of McCain's blatant lies, his old fashion heartless views and his warmongering.

Posted by: budsan1 | July 4, 2010 6:25 PM | Report abuse

The Democrats can run their ads as early as they want, but that will not divert the people from remembering the arrogance displayed ty the Democrats. And the American People will vote out the Democrats this election cycle. It is then, and ONLY then that the voice of the American People WILL be heard.


Posted by: barrysal | July 4, 2010 2:08 AM | Report abuse

Obummer noted around the world-

from the Jerusalem Post

Netanyahu Must Play for Time
07/02/2010 15:57

If he plays his cards wisely, he can say no to Obama and avoid an open confrontation.

Just ahead of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s trip next week to Washington, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas went on a charm offensive towards the Israeli media. On Tuesday, Abbas invited representatives of the Hebrew-language press to his office in Ramallah and assured them of his good intentions towards Israel.

We have been here before. In Netanyahu’s last go-around as prime minister, it seemed like every time he was due to visit Washington, then president Bill Clinton’s advisers would set up a meeting for Abbas’s predecessor Yasser Arafat with the Israeli media. Arafat would talk about how much he wanted peace with Israel, and how he was just waiting for Netanyahu to agree to embrace the cause of peace.

The peace-crazed Israeli media enthusiastically reported Arafat’s lies to the Israeli people without questioning either Arafat’s motives or his honesty.

Had they exhibited even a minimal amount of journalistic competence, they would have at least checked to see what the Arafat-controlled Palestinian media was reporting about their meeting with the “Rais.”

But that would have ruined their Netanyahu-bashing narrative. And so the Israeli public was denied the knowledge that not only did the Arafat-controlled Palestinian media fail to report their meeting, Arafat’s newspapers and television broadcasts routinely told the Palestinian people that there could be no peace with the Jews.

Indeed, they daily exhorted the Palestinians to view the destruction of Israel as their greatest goal.

In a similar manner, this week, as Israel’s newspapers published ecstatic headlines about Abbas’s moderation and desire for peace, the Abbas-controlled Palestinian media made no mention of the meeting. Moreover, in recent weeks, the Abbas-controlled Palestinian media have been intensifying their incitement against Israel and Jews.

As Palestinian Media Watch reported this week, on Tuesday, Abbas-controlled PATV aired a sermon by the PA’s Mufti Sheikh Muhammad Hussein. The mufti said, “The Jews, the enemies of Allah and of His Messenger, the enemies of Allah and of His Messenger! Enemies of humanity in general, and of Palestinians in particular... The Prophet says: ‘You shall fight the Jews and kill them...’” Similarly, last week PATV re-broadcast a “documentary” film in which all of Israel is described as “occupied Palestine.”

Posted by: thecannula | July 3, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Oh MAN, that Graves ad is off the hook!!! It looks just like the little storyline you see in the background on a karaoke.

Posted by: mattfugazi | July 2, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

anti-incumbent is all on the right, Aaron. I see you have swallowed whole the Beltway Narrative.

Posted by: drindl | July 2, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Daily Kos has filed a lawsuit against its former pollster, Research 2000, for breach of contract, fraud and negligent misrepresentation.

The seven-count complaint, filed in a northern California court Wednesday, claims that at least a portion of the polling produced for the liberal website was falsified and that Research 2000 refuses to produce the raw data to verify its work.


Pretty close to describing ALL of broadwayjoe's comments - fraud and negligent misrepresentation.

Broadwayjoe has been pushing and pushing for Research 2000 to be give more credibility in all the discussions on this board.

Right in line with "repeating lies" in the democratic talking points.


Posted by: FlowersOfPeace | July 2, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

The Great 37 in the Sky says:

Chris is reporting the reality out there in the nation

The voters are sick of the democrats.

The democrats tried to spin that to say "anti-incumbent"

But the dominant mood in the country is the nation is EAGER to send a message to Obama - that he has some nerve running on one platform in 2008 - and then turning around and breaking his word on issue after issue.

The nation is NOT HAPPY with Obama.

The country is angry with the democrats because the democrats are not agreeing that Obama lied - the democrats are supporting the hyper-partisan policies of Obama.


Posted by: FlowersOfPeace | July 2, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

That DOES seem to be the meta-message here.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | July 2, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

"joining a handful of Democratic incumbents who are on the air far earlier than in a normal campaign cycle in an attempt to blunt the anti-incumbent mood in the country."

anti-incumbent = anti-Dem
I guess so!

Posted by: jake3D | July 2, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

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