PA-Sen: New Poll, New Adwatch

A new poll on the Pennsylvania Senate race conducted by Benson Strategy Group (D) shows Casey leading Santorum 51%-37%. It was conducted August 13-16, included 821 likely voters, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4%. At the same time, Casey is finally getting off his front porch, and launching a statewide advertising campaign. Santorum has been on television since June 23rd, which largely explains why he has moved closer in most polls (though still trails). If this new poll is confirmed by independent polls, then, if successful, this new ad campaign has the very real potential of finishing Santorum off. So, let's see what we think of the ad (it is not on You Tube yet, so the pic links to Casey's website):

The ad is called "turned around," and criticizes tax cuts, corporate outsourcing, and the deficit. The first reaction I had to the ad is that it is very quiet. It has the slow, quiet music in the background that you see in a lot of ads, features Casey talking in a very calm voice, and has lots of the feel-good shots of Casey with farmers, little-league teams, people on the street, etc. It does not mention Iraq, nor does it mention that Bob Casey is a Democrat.

Overall, it seems pretty much standard boilerplate to me. That may be all Casey needs right now, as it could improve his name ID and give people a mildly warm, fuzzy feeling about him. I'd say it is superior to the "family values" ads Santorum has been running (which borders on an unintentional parody of political ads), but lacks the memorable qualities of Santorum's ads targeted toward senior citizens. It certainly fits with the cautious campaign Casey has been running to date. It may be all Casey needs, but then again, it could also easily fly under the radar during a campaign where Santorum's camp is going for broke. This race has the sense of roll reversal, where the incumbent is acting like a challenger and the challenger is trying to run out the clock. In a year like this, against a Senator like Santorum, that may very well be enough. However, if it isn't, the Casey campaign's cautious approach against an opponent where it is so easy to attack--and attack credibly-will be one of the main reasons why.

Tags: Adwatch, Bob Casey, PA-Sen, polls, Rick Santorum, Senate 2006 (all tags)



Didn't the DSCC

Reserve something like $5 million of ads in PA? Those will go nuclear on Santorum, I'm sure. When do you figure we can expect to see them?

by OfficeOfLife 2006-08-23 09:46AM | 0 recs
Horrible Ad

This is a horrible ad.  It won't hurt him...


It's a lot more powerful to relate your beliefs to personal experience...

"As a State Auditor whose job it is to keep government honest, I can tell you how disturbed I am by ... how our government keeps its books/Halliburton/cost overages in Iraq, etc etc"

Tie experience to the job he will do that Santorum WONT do.

by jgkojak 2006-08-23 09:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Horrible Ad

I think the ad is quite effective at presenting a reassuring alternative to the Republican/Santorum whining and fear-mongering. It presents criticism in a positive, quiet voice, in a can-do manner. This ad works for someone who is well known and holding a lead against a shrill opponent. No doubt, it's an ad that is reaching out to women. Feldman is spot on about the "pillow talk" voice.

by FishOutofWater 2006-08-23 11:23AM | 0 recs
Re: PA-Sen: New Poll, New Adwatch

Agree with your assessment.  Not a bad ad and better than the Darcy Burner ad in that Casey hammers on the ridiculous tax cuts and the shipping of jobs oversees.  It is still very generic and not memorable.  I don't understand why none of the ads posted so far neither refer to the Repubs running Washington nor that the candidates are Democrats.

The NY Gov race has had some good ads.  Spitzer's ads, as Kos noted recently, are excellent.  Suozzi's one ad was also good.  Interestingly Spitzer has not mentioned that he is a Democrat in his ads either and this is NY where the Dems have a huge registration advantage.  Is there some polling data showing that mentioning your party affiliation in an ad is a bad thing?  

by John Mills 2006-08-23 09:48AM | 0 recs
Re: PA-Sen: New Poll, New Adwatch

Must be my earwax problem but I didn't hear or see the word Democrat anywhere.

by adaplant 2006-08-23 10:14AM | 0 recs
Re: PA-Sen: New Poll, New Adwatch

The Casey name is so well known and associated with Democrats in PA (his father was a very popular Democratic guv), that he may not even need to mention it.

And Santorum is the poster-boy for nutty Repubs.

I think almost anyone voting in this election would know who's who, particularly older voters, who remember Casey Sr. well.

by LiberalFromPA 2006-08-23 10:59AM | 0 recs
pillow talk

I can see how concerned people at sounding too partisan.  Bob Casey is using his 'pillow talk' voice in this ad--which I actually find to be OK.  And it's a bit 'homosocial' don't you think?  Lots of men touching.

This is what I love:  the phrase 'turned around' LEAPS out of this ad in a really good way.

Casey says 'priorirites in Washington have gotten completely turned around' (or something like that).

There are lots of reasons why that kind of opening phrase works so well, but the bottom line is that is is a grounded metaphor.  I believe very strongly that this type of messaging is rock solid and wish more people would use it (e.g., basic up-down, in-out, high-low concepts to make a point).

So, even though he doesn't hit all the points in the MyDD memo--I would still say this ad works quite well.  

by Jeffrey Feldman 2006-08-23 10:27AM | 0 recs
Re: pillow talk

Jeffrey...I think you've hit on something with your comment about the "priorities completely turned around" opening.  I think that's very widely held view and Casey delivers it more like a guy talking with friends than a politician making some empty speech.  I think that anchors the ad--and also the viewers' attention--on a fundamental issue that bothers a lot of people.  That "fundamentals" approach, especially when well-delivered succintly at the front of an ad, can establish a strong clarifying foundation for discussion of more specific issues, etc., as is done in this ad...and that would include a focus on "accountability," which is closely tied with the upside-down priorities issue.

More generally, your comment highlights the value of the first segment of any ad, which I'll be paying more attention to while watching future adwatch ads.

by mitchipd 2006-08-23 10:43AM | 0 recs
priorities turned around

works for me. Casey is a known quantity in PA, so I'm not sure he has to shout Democrat (esp. against Santorum) but at least mention "Casey, Democrat for US Senate" at the end!

I'm not sure I've seen a good ad including Iraq in it from someone who isn't a vet. Perhaps a 'listen to the troops' angle or show what actions the candidate has taken to redress a problem (like lack of medical coverage after returning or providing better armor or helping a family after the death of a soldier).

by musicsleuth 2006-08-23 10:57AM | 0 recs
Re: PA-Sen: New Poll, New Adwatch

I don't know the dynamics in this race, except that Casey has a good lead in the polls.  I actually liked this ad, especially given his lead and the contrast it provides to the general unlikability of Santorum. Casey comes across as both purposeful and focused, and also calm, likeable and trustable.  That may be what he needs to cement his lead, in case Santorum tries to go strongly negative to close the gap.  It also leaves open the door to strong "accountability" ads later on, if needed.  If a candidate is trusted, its probably easier to get aggressive on issues like "accountability," where you want to have a strong contrast with "untrustable" Republicans.

I think this ad strikes a better and more useful balance than the Burner ad, which sounded too bland and generic, somewhat stilted and didn't really have any issue focus.

The lack of mention again of party affiliation is interesting, and seems to be pretty widespread. Maybe there's a sense that national Dems are not viewed all that much more positively than Repubs, which would lead to an "outsider" ID vs. a partisan ID.  There may be some wisdom to this under the circumstances, though there's probably a way to achieve this and also mention the candidate's party and/or make it clear that its the Republican-controlled administration and congress that need to be held accountable.

I'd also guess that focusing on outsourcing,etc. is a strong issue in PA (and also probably OH, MI, etc.).

As we see these ad samplings posted, it suggests the significance of following the evolution of each campaign's ads, overall strategy, polling, etc.  One ad does not (usually) make a campaign, but a series of ads, viewed in the context of the broader campaign, begins to be a more meaningful set of data points for comparative analysis with other campaigns.

by mitchipd 2006-08-23 10:34AM | 0 recs
Re: PA-Sen: New Poll, New Adwatch

I've asked his a million times, but...

Am I the only one freaked out by Casey's massive unibrow?

by HellofaSandwich 2006-08-23 10:48AM | 0 recs
Re: PA-Sen: New Poll, New Adwatch

A nice, safe, milquetoast, ad for a perhaps too comfortable frontrunner.

Throw it on the pile of ads that don't mention "Democrat", "Bush", or "Iraq". If I'm a Democrat looking for motivation, or a swing voter looking for a difference in the candidates, I won't find either in these ads.

by Sitkah 2006-08-23 10:49AM | 0 recs
Re: PA-Sen: New Poll, New Adwatch

Casey's attempt of a "I speak softly, but carry a bigger stick", I believe.

You know, Casey's got the facial features that would be perfect for a cool, retro 2D animated bit.  Now, that'd be a memorable ad.

by smugbug 2006-08-23 11:30AM | 0 recs
Re: PA-Sen: New Poll, New Adwatch

What about the unibrow?  I guess you'd have to draw that in...

by HellofaSandwich 2006-08-23 11:41AM | 0 recs
Re: PA-Sen: New Poll, New Adwatch

Well, could be the unibrow, but he has a face that could be easily charicatured for a cartoon.  Especially, as I said, a retro looking cartoon.  This is not meant as a slight.  

I see a "Mr. Casey Goes To Washington" type of animation with vignettes on what issues he'll be tackling there.  

by smugbug 2006-08-23 03:49PM | 0 recs
Even for a Frontrunner with a Big Lead...

this ad fails to tap into the public's huge discontent with Bush and with anyone who will not stand up and hold him accountable.  Generic references -- weak ones at that -- to Congress do nothing to inspire the confidence of the voters that Casey is any different than any other candidate.  In fact, that same ad could be run in any state for any senate candidate and it would get the same yawns everywhere.  Casey, and all other Dem challengers, need to juice it up.  The public is yearning for someone to call Bush out on his incompetence and his failed polices.

Further, in subtle ways this Casey ads supports the Republican meme that all politicians are the same, the problems in Washington are bipartisan.  That is bullshit and the public knows it.  So why do Dems feel the need to be cautious and reinforce this meme?

by Arthurkc 2006-08-23 11:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Even for a Frontrunner with a Big Lead...

Arthurkc, You're probably right to some extent, but I think we need to consider the possibility that lots of voters may not have the same desire for "intensity" in the "accountability" message as most of us posting here do.  

And I'm not so sure that most Americans really are convinced that Dems in general are all that different from Repubs in general on the question of whether they can be trusted to solve the country's problems.

Maybe an ad that embodied a "new breed of Democrat" message could help break through on that question.  And its true for some candidates, including Lamont.  

In key respects, the failures of the Bush Admin are a culmination of 25+ years of devolution in our political system.  The need to hold them accountable is an important need that even a significant percentage of Republicans seem to appreciate.  But fixing the huge problems they've create is also an urgent need and probably one that most voters care more about. Its also possible that if voters don't perceive Dems as more able to solve problems and significantly less corrupt, that the salience of the "accountability" issue will be weakened in voters' minds, since this would weaken their belief that things will significantly change for the better.

So, if the "accountability" message was combined with a "new breed of Democrat" message that included some high-contrast and specific-enough "we can fix these fundamental problems" (e.g., oil dependence and the other issues its tied to), the message to voters would combine two related high-contrast elements: the need to hold Bushco accountable and the need to fix the deep-in-the-shit problems they've created.  If this could be closely tied to a "new breed of Democrat" identity/agenda, I think the message would be broadly and deeply appealing.  I think that's a key part of the appeal of Lamont...or maybe it is just for me.

by mitchipd 2006-08-23 12:53PM | 0 recs
You May Be On To Something

and I hope those sentiments become widespread.

The DSCC and the RSCC will be running millions of dollars worth of TV starting in about two weeks.  It will be interesting to see if those ads suggest a "new breed of Democrat".  I doubt that will come from Schumer's shop.

by Arthurkc 2006-08-23 01:36PM | 0 recs
Re: You May Be On To Something

I wish I could, but I don't see any good reason to argue with your skepticism re Schumer and the DSCC.

by mitchipd 2006-08-23 01:42PM | 0 recs
Re: PA-Sen: New Poll, New Adwatch

If you've ever seen Bob Casey take questions on one of PCN's call-in shows or heard him answer questions on radio call-ins or seen him in person, this is exactly how he is. He's very calm and deliberate answering questions, he's never disrespectful and
he always gives thoughtful replies. You might not agree with him, but he explains why he thinks the way he does. He doesn't try and push his beliefs on you either. He almost always says what an honor it is to work in the public service and he's totally sincere about it. I don't think there's a phony bone in Casey's body nor do I think it would occur to him to lie about something.

I've been puzzling over who Casey reminded me of and it finally occurred to me: Fred Rogers. Think about it. They have similar voices and similar styles.

by phillydem 2006-08-23 12:47PM | 0 recs
Good Ad

This is aimed at independents. I'm sure it is intended to show Casey as concerned, reasonable, and comptetent. It contrasts with Santorum's ravings.

Democrats don't need an incentive to come out. "Santorum" should be incentive enough.

Many are disappointed that it doesn't mention the Democratic Party or Iraq. This is not a party ad. It is intended to win an election for one man in purple-state Pennsylvania.

I'm sure Casey doesn't want to fuel Republican claims that he is a wild-eyed "cut and run" liberal. Santorum will claim it anyway, but I think voters will see the lie if they see calm reasonable ads from Casey enough times.

I don't want to see Santorum lose by a hair, I want to see him repudiated.

by antiHyde 2006-08-23 01:24PM | 0 recs
Casey is insulated

To start with, between his reputation and his father's reputation, you have to be careful directly attacking the Casey name.

Santorum knows it.

He barely ever mentions Casey's name in ads or, especially, in discussions.

It can be a name ID thing, because Casey has de facto 100% name recognition thanks to his dad.  There are probably even a few people who don't realize his dad is dead and will think they're voting for Casey, Sr.

Likewise, the Caseys' position as socially conservative progessives (basically, trying to bring all the Reagan Democrats back into the donkey herd) makes him a hard person to cast a wishy-washy liberal.  And the fact that his family held that position back when it wasn't even vaguely acceptable aids his cause.

I don't see Santorum tightening this race to more than maybe 53-43 or so.  

Especially if John Kerry, a relative liberal, could carry PA.

by jcjcjc 2006-08-24 08:12AM | 0 recs
Re: PA-Sen: New Poll, New Adwatch

Good start.  Everyone has been waiting for Casey to start to actively advertise.  Being relatively short of cash (compared to Ricky), he had to wait until he could go the distance with a high profile media campaign.  I suspect we'll see him continue through November now.  In the beginning, he has to define himself, to counter what Santorum has been saying.  The negative ads should (and I think will) come in due time.  Remember, it's a marathon, not a sprint, and the only poll that matters is the last.  I may be wrong, but judgment should be withheld for now.  It's good to see a poll that shows that Ricky's ad bounce was short-lived.  I think (caution: I am biased) that what we've seen is all he's got.  If he can get no closer than 6% when running unopposed ads, he's in trouble.

by joetalarico 2006-08-23 01:48PM | 0 recs
Re: PA-Sen: New Poll, New Adwatch

I went to the website and watched all the ads he's put together. They're boring. They put me to sleep. He looks sleepy, low-energy. I wouldn't trust him to remember to put the cat out before he goes to bed. The one with the kids is amateurish.

And I'm raising money for him. What are people who aren't already in his camp going to make of these?

I thought this race was in the bag, but now I'm worried.

by Christopher Walker 2006-08-23 06:51PM | 0 recs
Anti-tax cut is pretty ballsy in PA

Especially since Rendell is running the top of the ticket pro-tax cut.

Now I'm sure the two positions actually level out to something like "Local property taxes are hurting the middle class + federal tax cuts don't help the middle class."

But, there is a significant bloc of suburban and rural voters in PA who are single issue voters on tax cuts.

I guarantee you that tax cut position is going to reward Santorum with some brand new cash from the Club for Growth.

by jcjcjc 2006-08-24 08:07AM | 0 recs


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