Making "Secret Money" Backfire

Vega explains, viewers of political ads don't think of "true" or "false," but "plausible" or "implausible."  And it's easy to infer implausibility if you can raise suspicion about the ad itself:

Viewers know that the ads are all one-sided propaganda for the candidates and not "facts," but they still allow themselves to be influenced by messages that seem sufficiently plausible or convincing.

One basic finding from social psychology, however, is that, if a viewers' conscious attention can be diverted from the content of an ad to suspicion about the motives of the communicator, the effectiveness of the ad actually does decline tremendously. In effect, if the viewers' skepticism is consciously activated, the usual "Well, who knows? I know it's just a commercial but what it says still might be true" reflex is inhibited. The viewer's attention becomes focused on the commercial itself rather than the message it delivers.

Since Democrats all over the country are now being swamped with a tidal wave of nasty attack ads funded with secret money, every attempt to make voters focus their attention on the secret money behind the ads - rather than on the words of the ad itself - can have a very significant effect. The way to most effectively execute this strategy is with messages that directly and dramatically challenge voters to actively and skeptically think about the commercials they see at the moment when they appear on the TV screen.

All done with one very simple response:

Honest TV ads at least let you know who paid for them. Ads that don't aren't honest. It really is that simple.

As a final month issue for the midterms, this could be easy pickin' for Democrats.  Sure, Mrs./Mr. Swing Voter, that ad was glossy, had an intriguing message, and lots and lots of red, white, and blue, but no one will ever know who really paid to put it on your TV! 

Enough to swing the pendulum in November?  Probably not.  But more important than that is the opportunity to create legitimate suspicion not only of the GOP message at large, but also the influence of Citizens United and the intentions of the US Chamber of Commerce, indefinitely.

That would be a big win.

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Comments

5 Comments

not sure about this
Raising questions about the secret donors behind the American Future Fund's $1 million intervention in IA-01 seems to be central to Bruce Braley's campaign strategy now. Not saying Democrats shouldn't be doing this, but you also have to give people a reason to vote for you. Raising suspicions about who's backing the other side isn't going to be enough.
by desmoinesdem 2010-10-10 10:28PM | 0 recs
RE: Making "Secret Money" Backfire

It never is, is it?

Maybe the Dems should just quit now, since they'll never get any breaks in the mainstream press and anything they try to do isn't good enough for the Blog Birchers.

 

Have you people ever been pleased with anything? Can't you go five minutes without being disappointed with your elected leaders?

by spirowasright 2010-10-11 01:08AM | 0 recs
Investigate the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Sign the petition to urge the Federal Election Commission to investigate the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for violating federal election law. The Federal Election Campaign Act prohibits soliciting funds from any foreign national, government or corporation to contribute, donate or spend funds in connection with any federal, state, or local election in the United States, either directly or indirectly.  http://tiny.cc/19uoc

@jeansez

by Jean 2010-10-11 11:26PM | 0 recs
This is well said

The concept that the process needs so much money, is a deep flaw. You will see subtleties in how certain people are treated in the news media entertainment industry - based largely on how much money they are known to have. Editors defer to certain story lines that support the 'professional opinions' of the individuals they know to have advertising money.

 

And my personal favorite is the one where they have two people together to discuss a fact - and then they argue about it, as if arguing about a fact is going to make the lie somehow more credible. It's usually paid for by the people trying to sell the lie.

 

The Republicans did absolutely nothing. They sat on their hands.

They screwed up the entire country, and then did nothing to fix it.

Then they bitched this election cycle about how the democrats did nothing when in fact the Democrats accomplished a ton of things - even in spite of the GOP.

The only thing the GOP has going for them, now, is advertising - and to some people the prospect of that money is so much more appealing than the truth - they'll do anything to get it on their network, or their website.

But in the end, politics isn't about advertisement and its not about the smoke filled room.  Its about us.  If the voter has an Aha! moment about the secret money, the advertisement, the pay for play "memes" that are sold in packages along with "content advertising" and "placement" ...  the whole house of cards will fall down.

Good Post!!

 

 

by Trey Rentz 2010-10-12 10:03AM | 0 recs
geez

Cmon its crapo and you know it. These ads have zero traction, voters dont give a crap, they are listening to this garbage.Ya knwo what they care about? Jobs, jobs and jobs and what they see as out of control spending and a deaf and arrogant President. These ads are a waste of time and money and if you honestly believe they are going to have any impact your freaking blind. You think the US Chamber of Commerce, by the way is so stupid as to fund these ads with boatloads of foreign money? Doubtful. Ultimately voters dont care about this stuff. The stuff they care about has been completely bungled by this congress and administration. It also another example of how freaked out the the controlling, lifetime members of congress are. They think they have a right to their seat, a right to spend our money and do as they please. The coming electoral slaughter says otherwise.

by BuckeyeBlogger 2010-10-12 04:29PM | 0 recs

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