Mass. Senate race: This time, outside money is funding negative ad blitz
In 2012, Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown swore off negative ads paid for by groups outside Massachusetts. But in the Gomez-Markey Senate battle, the money is pouring in.
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Gomez, on the other hand, has received most of his outside ad money from a single group, a newly formed super PAC with the curious name Americans for Progressive Action. Since its emergence two weeks ago, the group has spent more than $1.1 million, mostly in ad buys for Gomez. (They’ve also launched a sparse website attacking Markey, 37years.com.)Skip to next paragraph
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The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that the exclusive source of funding for Americans for Progressive Action is a wealthy California winemaker named John Jordan, who says he has never met Gomez but was compelled to get involved when he saw "an American hero running in a close race in a tough state while getting absolutely pounded by Democrats throwing everything they could at him."
For the most part, the ads on both sides have followed the campaigns’ familiar yarns. Gomez spliced images of a dreary looking Washington D.C. with the text “37 years in Congress. Dirty Ed Markey,” suggesting his opponent was just a tired career politician. Markey, meanwhile, honed in on Gomez’s fuzzy positions on issues like abortion and tax reform to paint him as disingenuous and inexperienced.
Markey’s larger war chest has given his ads more reach thus far, but advertising is an uphill battle for Gomez in another regard too.
“Information from the media is more likely to impact voters when they have fewer preconceived notions of the candidate,” Ms. Jenkins says. That benefits Markey – one of New England’s longest serving congressmen and a known quantity in the state – over Gomez, who has never held political office.
What about the negativity of many of the campaign’s ads? Political science research shows that audiences don’t like negative ads, Jenkins says, but they’re also far more memorable than fluff pieces talking up a candidate’s positive attributes. There’s a reason, after all, that people are still talking about Lyndon Johnson’s famous daisy ad nearly 50 years after it was first aired.
As Gomez and Markey spend the final days leading to the June 25 election in a frenzy of hand shakes and stump speeches, they’re likely hoping their ads can also make an impression that lasts – at least until Tuesday.
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