This week, two ads were released supposedly supporting Senator Kay Hagan. One works. One doesn’t.
An environmental SuperPAC called Southern Alliance for Clean Energy released an ad that supports Hagan and touts her accomplishments protecting North Carolina’s water and air. In light of the recent Dan River spill, it’s a good message. It also begins to educate voters about Hagan’s record.
The second ad, though, is the type that voters tune out. It’s also not about Hagan. It’s about Thom Tillis. It’s a pedestrian effort that looks and feels like hundreds of other generic attack ads. Ominous music and a disembodied voice tell us that the evil Koch Brothers have picked Thom Tillis to be their surrogate. They mention that Tillis gave tax cuts for rich people while raising taxes on 80% of North Carolinians and then launch into all the bad things he’ll do as a U. S. Senator. It’s not believable and it doesn’t address Hagan’s weaknesses.
Right now, Hagan is suffering because of almost $10 million in ads bashing her. Her approval ratings are upside down and one poll has her negatives above 50%. That’s serious danger territory. She desperately needs somebody to make the case for her. That’s what the environmental ad starts to do–address her approval ratings, not her potential opponent.
Throughout 2013, Hagan did a great job of paying attention to the state, particularly it’s veterans and military. Now, voters need to hear about it. We need ads that thank her for her work on behalf of military families and disabled veterans. There are plenty of headlines to back up the claims. Don’t let that hard-earned media go to waste.
While some of her base may not like it, Hagan was ranked most moderate Senator. Another way you could read that is independent and willing to work across the aisle. Somebody should make the case that Hagan votes with her party and president when it’s in the best of interest of North Carolina but agrees to disagree when it’s not. She’s not just toeing the party line; she’s fighting for her constituents.
Finally, the American for Prosperity ads were effective because they use real people telling stories. Some are actors, some are not, but at least the viewers can see who is delivering the message. The messengers are the women on the screen talking to women in their living rooms and they look believable. Even if the women in the ads are not telling the truth, most voters will never know that because they don’t read PolitiFact or any other fact checker. It may be shameless to lie to the camera but it’s certainly more effective than a disembodied voice trying to scare voters.
Right now, Hagan desperately needs somebody to tell her story and her record. She’s ill-defined and AFP is defining her. Instead of educating voters about what she’s done and why, Senate Majority PAC has decided to spend millions of dollars to demonize a guy who might not even be on the ballot in November. What a waste of resources.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >