When Paul Ryan was named as the Vice-Presidential nominee by Republican Mitt Romney, I was asked about his impact on the Presidential race. I said many times that the Ryan pick would finally energize the conservative base of the Republican Party who were skeptical of their nominee in Ryan. Ryan’s youthful enthusiasm coupled with his wonkish policy appeal was just what the Romney campaign needed. The bland Romney campaign searched for its voice throughout the primary season and through the early stages of the general campaign. Ryan would be that shot in the arm. For a short time, the Ryan pick did help pull even with President Barack Obama in the polls. That momentum seems to have been lost in the last week, as recent reports from the Romney front have stated that Ryan has been muzzled by his Romney’s staffers. Romney’s team wants Ryan to speak less on his “bread and butter” topic, the budget, and more on how badly Obama has run the country. Conservative pundits and grassroots supporters wonder why this is so? Without Ryan’s budget appeal, the Romney campaign was back to where it started, in search of a voice.
How much of a factor should a Vice Presidential pick be for a Presidential ticket? What criteria would you look for when choosing a VP nominee?
At the Republican National Convention in 2012, it was Clint Eastwood who made a splash with his speech regarding President Obama. At the Democratic National Convention in that same year, Kal Penn of Harold and Kumar fame, made a veiled reference to Eastwood’s speech and made overtures toward younger Americans to vote. In 1964, actor Raymond Massey made a campaign commercial for Republican Barry Goldwater. Actor E.G. Marshall filmed a spot for Hubert Humphrey in 1968. Paul Newman campaigned for another Democrat in 1968, Eugene McCarthy. Sammy Davis Jr. endorsed President Nixon. Singer Pearl Bailey in 1976 for President Ford. Even Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon endorsed Ralph Nader in 2000. The list of celebrities endorsing and campaigning for Presidents and presidential candidates is almost endless. I once watched a PBS documentary entitled, “Vote For Me”, where the then head of the Oklahoma Democratic Party referred to politics as “show business for ugly people.” He was alluding to the entertainment value of political campaigns and how the political process had become superficial over the years. This documentary was filmed in the mid-1990s.
Today, it seems as if politics and entertainment industry have come together as one. Entertainers of all political stripes are now engaged in the political process by adding their opinions to the issues, events, and candidates of the day through social media and traditional media outlets alike. Has the separation between politics and entertainment become blurred over the years? Do you believe that entertainers have any influence on the political process?
The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) of 2002, also known as the McCain-Feingold Act, includes a provision where political candidates, running for public office at the federal level, must identify their own political advertisements with the phrase, “I approve this message.” This idea was intended to discourage candidates from running negative ads on television or radio. However, when ads are produced and aired by outside organizations, such as interest groups or political parties, they acknowledge that their ads are not affiliated with any candidates or campaign committees. In effect, the interest group or political party is letting the audience know that the ads are independent of any candidate. Candidates for state office are not required to have an “approval” message included in their ads.
Does it matter to you if an ad is run by a candidate or by an outside political organization? Did you even know there was a difference between the two?
This piece of Presidential memorabilia was from the 1964 campaign of Republican nominee, Barry Goldwater. Goldwater lost the election to President Lyndon Johnson in a landslide. However, Goldwater’s candidacy shifted the Republican Party to the conservative right. Your thoughts on the slogan/bumper sticker?
A common misperception from the 1988 Presidential campaign between George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis is that Bush team produced and ran ad that prominently featured Willie Horton. The “Willie Horton ad” is it was to be called, featured a criminal (Horton) and how he was allowed out of prison on weekends by a Massachusetts Governor (Dukakis) in part to that state’s prison furlough program. The ad mentions that while Horton was out on one weekend pass, he kidnapped, stabbed, and raped a woman and brutally beat that woman’s boyfriend. The ad struck a nerve with the public, hurt the Dukakis campaign, and Dukakis never recovered. Many who watched the ad would reference it as “Bush’s Willie Horton ad” when in fact the ad was created by the National Security PAC (Political Action Committee). This PAC ran an ad, by federal law, independent of the Bush campaign.
How would the public know if the ad was paid for and produced by an outside or independent organization? Sure, there was a disclaimer at the bottom of the “Horton” ad that disclosed the source. The disclaimer was about the size of the type of disclaimers that you see in a car commercial. A magnifying glass is a necessity for proper reading. In the last twelve years, identifying a commercial’s source became a bit easier for the public. With the passage of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) (2002), candidates at the federal level who run ads from their own campaign coffers must say, “I am so and so and I am approve this message.” Most campaign commercials are run by outside organizations, so this BCRA requirement is not applicable.
What are your thoughts on the amount of ads that you have seen in the last few months? Now that the elections are over, you perhaps can fully process what has been transmitted over the airwaves in this election season.
We typically use the phrase, “majority rules” when it comes to determining a winner in our elections. However, many times, a winner can be decided by less than a majority vote. Therefore, the proper phrase would be, “plurality rules”. In some states, getting a plurality is not enough. As a result, a second election or a runoff election is used to determine a winner. Eleven states have runoff elections, nine of them are in the South. Proponents of a runoff election support the notion that a majority should be earned by a candidate who wishes to be a party’s nominee. Opponents suggest that a runoff election is too costly to administer and that many who turned out to vote in the initial primary would not vote in a second election. Thus, a candidate may receive a majority vote, but would do so from a smaller voting population.
Should more states institute provisions for runoff elections? What are your thoughts on runoff elections?
This week’s “Evaluating the Ads” post focuses on two ads from two different United States Senate races in two states. The common theme in each ad is that each candidate running receives what they hope is an important endorsement that will put them over the top in their respective race. The first ad is for former United States Senator Scott Brown (R). He was a Senator from Massachusetts, but now is running in New Hampshire. His endorsement is from former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The second ad is for Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) who is running in the state of Kentucky. Her endorsement comes from former President Bill Clinton
Here is the Brown ad.
Here is the Grimes ad.
Which ad do you believe is more effective? Do you believe that endorsements make a difference?
In this week’s installment of “Evaluating Campaign Ads”, we travel to North Carolina for a hotly contested United States Senate seat. The incumbent is Democrat Kay Hagan. Her opponent is Republican Thom Tillis. He is North Carolina’s House Speaker.
Senator Hagan’s ad is up first.
Who is this ad aimed at? Does this ad appeal to you?
Here is Speaker Tillis’s ad.
Is this an effective way of utilizing contrasting data in an ad?
For more insight into the race, here is a recent Elon Poll.