USF Prof. Goldstein: Attack Ads on Vulnerable Dems Hit Marks

Monday, 10 Mar 2014 06:55 PM

By Cathy Burke

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Attack ads targeting vulnerable Senate Democrats have hit early and hard, potentially giving their message an added, powerful punch with voters, University of San Francisco professor Ken Goldstein said Monday.

In an interview with John Bachman and J.D. Hayworth on America's Forum on Newsmax TV, Goldstein said that in "really close contests . . . political advertising can matter at the edges."

"And everything suggests" elections this year will come "down to the margin" as the GOP and Democrats do battle for a majority in the Senate, he said.

"What's very interesting about these ads is they have come very early . . . they're not controlled by the candidates, and their goal is to try and . . . define these Democrats early on when people are still more soft in their decision-making," he said.

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The early-bird ads "have the potential to shine through . . . and have a greater impact," which explains "why Democrats and Democratic candidates and people like [Senate] Majority Leader [Harry] Reid are very concerned about it," Goldstein noted.

Reid last month denounced Obamacare "horror stories" — like a recent ad featuring a woman having to pay more for her healthcare — as untruthful.

But Reid's rant boomeranged, and there was an avalanche of criticism of his remark.

Americans for Prosperity, which was co-founded by billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, funded the ad and others like it.

"Normal voters aren't going to care where the message is coming from," Goldstein said. "But if they're seeing a lot of one message, at the margins, that could be decisive."

It doesn't matter how often the message is run, he added.

"For Republicans . . . [the ads are] targeted at the states that are going to decide the U.S. Senate," he said. "Republicans think that the anti-Obamacare message is a message that resonates with their base."

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