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The (Positive) Ad War in Massachusetts The (Positive) Ad War in Massachusetts

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The (Positive) Ad War in Massachusetts

Brown is also making a big play for women voters in his new ads. In one, his wife, former television reporter Gail Huff talks up Brown's parenting skills ("If the kids had a problem, they didn't call me, they called Dad, because Dad was the one that was always there. And he still is.") In the other, she talks up Brown as a husband and someone who understands women ("Scott's always been the one that encouraged me professionally, encouraged me to have my own life, to have my own identity. He's always been very, very sure about the women in his life to have their own lives. He is by far the most understanding of women probably of any man I know.") The television ad Warren released on Monday was her fifth, and it remained laser-focused on her message: Washington is working for big corporations, not middle class families, and she would change that. Her previous ad noted that "The Boston Globe said Elizabeth Warren has stood up for the middle class with dogged determination." The ad before that featured a clip of President Obama speaking about Warren in the Rose Garden and also noted her upbringing. Warren's first ad, a minute-long introductory spot, detailed her humble upbringing. Brown has spent over $400,000 on radio ads, which vary in subject matter -- from talking about Massachusetts sports to his work with veterans to education -- but carry a common message. Warren has released just two radio ads, both policy-focused: one on Wall Street reform, the other on the Blunt amendment. As Reid Wilson noted last month, a recent Suffolk University Poll reflects a mood in the Massachusetts Senate electorate which clashes with presidential preference criteria. The poll showed 92 percent of Brown voters say they're voting for the incumbent Republican, rather than against Warren, while more than three quarters of Warren backers say they're voting for Warren, rather than against Brown. Those figures stand in stark contrast to the presidential contest; just 56 percent of voters who say they support Mitt Romney say they'll cast a ballot for their former governor, while 44 percent say their vote is meant to be a rejection of President Obama. Brown's ad strategy mirrors his larger approach. He wants to present himself as a likeable family man who shares the same values as the many blue-collar independent voters who will have a big say in who represents the state in the upper chamber next January. Warren's approach mirrors her macroscopic strategy of focusing on economic populism and pitching herself as someone who will stand up the Washington's habit of catering to big corporations. Before Brown and Warren signed their agreement, anti-Brown third-party groups were outspending anti-Warren groups 3-1. That's why Republicans celebrated the pact as a victory for their candidate. But Democrats counter that after Labor Day (Warren entered the race in late-September), the anti-Warren Crossroads GPS started hitting her hard in a period when GOP groups outspent Democratic counterparts 2-1. If not for the agreement, their argument goes, Warren would be pummeled by Karl Rove's group now. The reality is both candidates have been handed a real opportunity in the wake of their unique agreement. Warren, the less-defined figure, is in the midst of an opening to describe herself before Rove does. But she's squandered much of the last month responding to the controversy over her claim to Native American heritage. Polls show the issue hasn't dinged her image, but she's certainly wasted time trying to defend herself. Brown, running an every-man, likeability-focused campaign, can run ads about sports and his family without fear of his ads being immediately followed by a tough spot from the League of Conservation Voters. Elections are decided in the fall, when voters are much more attuned to campaign tactics. But after this battle is in the books, the winner may point to the first six months of the year as a formative period in the campaign.

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