Thursday, March 13, 2014


Here's an anti-Koch brothers ad Mary Landrieu is running in her Senate race against Republican challenger Bill Cassidy:


Out of state billionaires spending millions to rig the system and elect Bill Cassidy. Their goal: Another politician bought and paid for. Their agenda: Protect tax cuts for companies that ship our jobs overseas. Cut Social Security and end Medicare as we know it. They even tried to kill relief for hurricane victims. Cassidy’s billion dollar backers: They’ve got a plan for him. It’s not good for Louisiana.
Greg Sargent has a theory about this ad:
... this is all about creating a framework within which voters can be made to understand the actual policy agenda Republicans are campaigning on. This is what the Bain attacks on Mitt Romney were all about: Dem focus groups showed voters simply didn't believe Romney would cut entitlements (per the Paul Ryan plan) while cutting taxes on the rich. The Bain narrative made Romney's actual priorities more comprehensible.

The Koch attacks are designed to do something similar. They aren't really about the Kochs. They are a proxy for the one percent, a means through which to tap into a general sense that the economy remains rigged in favor of the very wealthy.
The difference is that the Bain ads were about things done by Mitt Romney, or at least by a company he personally ran. This is about trying to get voters to believe that there are secretive, cynical puppet masters behind the other candidate -- and while that's obviously true, I fear it's a line of attack that doesn't work very well with swing voters, who undoubtedly assume that every candidate is backed by equally cynical fat cats and operatives.

This ad reminds me of the unsuccessful "Packaging of George Bush" ads run by the Mike Dukakis campaign in 1988, one of which is here:

But while I don't think attacking the Koch brothers works to motivate swing voters, I think it does motivate the base -- it could help turn out the voters who know the Koch story. (I agree with Dave Johnson that Alex Sink was crazy to run a swing-voter-oriented campaign in the Florida House election she lost this week; the base wasn't motivated.)

Maybe if there's a lot more Koch-bashing -- Harry Reid is certainly trying to raise the Kochs' profile -- then the number of voters who respond to the anti-Koch message will increase. But I think it's a message that works only with committed voters. You'll notice that George Soros gets talked about a lot in the right-wing media, but not so much on the campaign trail, except perhaps in GOP primaries. This stuff is for partisans, not for mass consumption. But Democrats do need more motivated partisans.


Victor said...

Our Reich-Wingers have countless boogeymen, from Soros, to ACORN, to Obama, to Michelle, to any and every body who's not a Conservative white male.

We need to present some REAL boogeymen!

The Koch's are part of what Hillary was ridiculed almost 20 years ago, for calling it a "Vast right-wing conspiracy."

It IS a "Vast right-wing conspiracy!"

Time to call a spade, a spade!

The New York Crank said...

The conspiring manipulators theme often works well. Back in the 1980s-1990s, someone ran anti-smoking ads in California, aimed at teen-agers, that portrayed a bunch of back room guys conspiring to manipulate teens into smoking. My California advertising source told me it worked like gangbusters.

The danger is that this is a two-edged sword. The Republicans can also depict conspirators playing with peoples' minds – but let me get off this subject before I give them any ideas.

Very crankily yours,
The New York Crank

Dark Avenger said...

"My advice at this point to you will be to go to bed. You will wake up to a McCain presidency and the Great Liberal Freakout will be on.
Bookmark this, liberals, as this is exactly how it is going to go down. You will be wonder how the hell I was able to call this."