Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Butt Out, Please

Meg Whitman may be a political novice, but she has done a great job so far in setting out a clear agenda for reform without engaging in the sort of alienating social con posturing that so many California Republicans have demanded in the past. A key to this has been Whitman's excellent advertising campaign, which feature Whitman's bullet points over the sort of "grasp the future" imagery that you can find in GE and IBM ads. Pretty effective, but all the SF Chronicle wants to talk about is whether there has been too much advertising: Meg Whitman's Attack Ads Could Backfire
GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman has swamped California with an unprecedented tsunami of ads, not only on radio and on TV shows like "American Idol" - but through a cable TV marketing gimmick that allows viewers to order her bumper stickers using their remote controls.

Her campaign has spent $46 million so far, according to campaign finance reports filed this week, the most ever by a candidate for a statewide primary in California.

The sheer volume of her efforts, which premiered with positive spots to introduce her "brand" but have lately been characterized by negative attacks on her GOP opponent, state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, raises a new question: Is this overkill?

"You can't swing a dead cat in California without hitting a Meg Whitman ad. They're everywhere - in every medium," said political strategist Patrick Dorinson of Sacramento. "But you wonder if, at some point, people will say: I've had enough. Is this going to go on for three more months?"

Honestly, did they run stories like this when California unions were running "attack ads" against The Governator's efforts to reform state spending? Of course not. And they will be silent this fall when Jerry Brown's allies are running "homeless babies" ads against Whitman.

More to the point, the ads have been effective, both in disposing of rival Steve Poizner and taking bites out of Jerry Brown. So, of course, the media peer pressure must begin to dial back the ads. Political journalists are famously hostile to Republican candidates, so this faux "concern" is completely misplaced and should be easily ignored.

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