Help Us Give Rick the Kick!!!

Crossposted at Young Philly Politics

Are you sick of talking politics and ready for action? Do you wake up in the night sweating and screaming after a nightmare in which the Democrats fail to take back either house of Congress next month? Do you want a "just-in-case" pass for November 8th, so you can tell all your friends "well, at least I know that Santorum wasn't reelected because I didn't do something?

Well, if you're in Philly, I have just what you need!

I work for Philadelphians Against Santorum and we are working around the clock to kick the Santorum out of Santorum and all cheesy intros aside  we really do need your help. See, we are basically the only non-party group doing any ground work in Philly (hell the Casey campaign doesn't even have any operations in all of Philly!), and we do it all with the help of thousands of volunteers and small-donors (as a PAC we cannot take very big donations, even if we wanted to).

Here are some of the many ways that you can help ensure that we win back the Senate this year, or, at the very least, ensure that it isn't your fault if we don't:

Help with the last three days of voter registration!!!

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MyDD Accountability Adwatch: Patrick Murphy

I'm changing up adwatch a bit.  Now you can grade the ads yourself using the polling feature, on a scale of 1-10.  Disagree with the assessment on the front page?  Fine, make your case in the comments, and vote.  The campaign usually reads this blog post, so you'll defintely register feedback.  I imagine the scale will be a bit inflated, since people often confuse criticism of ads with criticism of candidates.  Oh well.

Netroots candidate Patrick Murphy is using your money well. Aside from having a good candidate blog, Murphy's first ad hits the right messaging notes.

The ad, like Tessa Hafen's in Nevada, splashes 'Democrat for Congress' on the screen.  Nice to see some clarity on who the candidate is (for my money, the best Democratic-brand ad is Richard Morrison's, which cost $1500 to make).

The ad goes straight at Bush, promising change by ending Bush's blank check in Iraq.  It begins with a screenshot of John F. Kennedy, and pans through different pictures of Murphy while describing his background.  Then the theme shifts to Murphy's positive agenda, which is to change direction in Iraq, stop Bush's blank check policy, begin bringing troops home, and returning focus to the war on terror.

So kudos to Murphy for following the recommendations in our accountability memo - he's clear about holding Bush accountable, about being a Democrat, and about using Iraq as a way to introduce himself to voters.  

There are a few problems with the ad, naturally.  One small problem on messaging is that he talks about change in Iraq so we can refocus on the 'war on terror'.  The problem is that speaking in terms of the war on terror is a reactionary frame, and will immediately cause voters to look for a candidate promising a more authoritarian model.  That tends not to work for Democrats.  If I were running against him as a Republican, I would run an ad that says 'I agree with my colleage on the need to refocus on the war on terror, which is why I voted for terrorist surveillance and the Patriot Act.  Where does he stand?'  Democrats should keep the conversation on Iraq; stop Bush's blank check to refocus on the troops, or to refocus on a strategy for victory, or refocus on our problems at home, or something like that works more to our advantage.  Other than that, the messaging is good.

The production values could be better - I love the background music in Larry Kissell's ads, for instance; by contrast, the one in the Murphy spot scream 'generic political ad', which makes it more likely to be ignored.  Also, the ad could tell a story instead of presenting a resume.  For example, Michael Steele, Mark Kennedy, Eliot Spitzer, Rick Santorum, and Ned Lamont are running exceptional ads that tell stories connecting their values to their campaigns.  These two (here and here) from Steele are great.  Kennedy, Santorum, and Lamont use their families to tell stories about who they are as people, Kennedy and Lamont through humor and Santorum through sentimental though effective creepiness.  Spitzer uses a more populist theme to tell a story about government and passion, but all of these candidates use a narrative flow that tells a story about the candidate that connects their strength as individuals to their ability to project strength in office.  

Murphy's ad doesn't quite reach that level; it's more like a field goal than a touchdown.  I'm going to give it a 6.

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PA-Sen: Rick Santorum Hates Gorillas

So Rick Santorum has this campaign for re-election going on, and it ain't going too well. Maybe -- call me crazy -- that has something to do with his habit of running away from spectators in undersized gorilla suits.

Lemme explain. So Americans United for Change (AUFC) -- the people who helped to bring you the smackdown on the Big Bush Social Security Privatization Campaign of 2005™ -- says it's time for payback for all the people who tried to rip off our senior citizens last year. The form of the payback: a giant inflatable gorilla ... chasing the big privatizers down wherever they go.

First up for the treatment: our boy Ricky.

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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.

PA Dems need to reach out to the Green Party

The Pennsylvania Democratic Party is currently challenging the Green Party's ballot access.  Since the petition drive and campaign were largely funded and driven by the GOP in an attempt to take votes away from Bob Casey, the challenge is a legitimate one.  Carl Romanelli, the Green Party candidate, should withdraw his candidacy, as did the candidates for Governor and Lt. Governor.  The challenge looks like it will succeed and Mr. Romanelli will be taken off the ballot.

Rather than demonize the Greens, we need to listen to them and try to address their concerns.  The two parties agree on many issues and should be working TOGETHER to oust Rick Santorum.

The bottom line is this:  the junior Senator from Pennsylvania will either be Bob Casey or Rick Santorum.  Even if Romanelli stays on the ballot he will not win, and could very well jeopardize Casey's chances of success (remember Ralph Nader in Florida?).  

A plea to the Green Party of PA:  please encourage Romanelli to drop out of the race.  Of course, he may be taken off the ballot.  Regardless, the Greens need to throw 100% of their support behind Casey.  This race is WAY too important!

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