Monday Musing. In 2020, in the era of social media, can you win a campaign with TV ads? Conventional wisdom says TV advertising isn’t as effective as in the past. But that hasn’t stopped Ben McAdams and Burgess Owens from carpet bombing TV viewers with saturation negative advertising.
Lots of people are so sick of the nasty ads aired by both campaigns and their allied PACs and congressional committees that they instantly switch channels when an ad comes on. The TV ads on both sides have reached the point of oversaturation and overkill.
The 4th District slugfest will likely be the most expensive congressional race in Utah history, especially if the expenditures of outside groups are counted. McAdams started out with a big money advantage and beat Owens to the airwaves by several weeks. Owens was being pummeled by negative ads before he got rolling.
But national Republicans and Owens have lately been matching the Democrats in money raised and spent. Owens and his allies are catching up with McAdams on ad spending.
It’s hard to predict the outcome of this race. Voters have a real choice. McAdams is a likeable moderate who wants to have friends on both sides (despite his negative advertising) and really does want to bring everyone together to solve problems. Owens is also very much a caring person, but he is much more of an ideological warrior, fighting for conservative principles and values. He sees real threats and danger in liberal ideas and policies and wants to fight them in Washington.
Much will depend on Republican turnout in Utah County. McAdams will run up a big score in Salt Lake County, and Owens must counter in Utah County. The state and Utah County Republican parties seem much better organized this year and better able to turn out the vote.
I still give McAdams the edge.
Things I learned over the weekend.
* Route Fifty reports that some state governments are losing less revenue than expected due to the coronavirus economic shutdown. But states and local governments still face difficult fiscal circumstances. The Paycheck Protection Program and CARES money helped a lot, but federal aid is drying up and if the economy doesn’t rebound, state and local budgets are going to be in trouble across the country.
* Governing Magazine notes that a lot more Republican women are running for office this year. The number of GOP women is up by 8 percent, while Democratic women candidates are down 4 percent. 227 GOP women ran for Congress this year, shattering the old record of 130. And 94 won nominations. Still, more Democratic women are running than GOP women.
* Balanced federalism is essentially ignored today as a component in solving the country’s problems. Federalism columnist Donald Kettl, writing in Governing Magazine, lists three keys to getting the federalism conversation going again.
Interesting read. Is this election a referendum on Trump as a person, or on his presidential accomplishments? Can you vote for a “successful presidency” – but not the man? St. George writer Howard Sierer, a contributor to The Independent in southern Utah, notes that he finds Trump a “narcissistic boor.” But he thinks Trump’s presidency “has been a success on many fronts.” He writes that he judges politicians “on what they do, not on what they say. . . . I ignore Pres. Trump the person, and instead focus on what’s been accomplished.” And he likes much of what has been accomplished. “Ask yourself if your dislike for Trump as a person, a dislike I share, is worth reversing the wide range of positive accomplishments of the last four years. I’ll take the accomplishments.” Read the essay HERE.
Parting Shot. The COVID-19 virus is surging across the United States and the world. Europe has now overtaken the U.S. in the number of new cases, the Wall Street Journal reports. The rising cases are occurring in both red states and blue states, with varying mandates and restrictions. It’s clear that government can only do so much. Many countries, states and communities have reached a tipping point where citizens are simply not willing to be cloistered and shut in. Pandemic fatigue has set in. Even a number of public health experts are saying that widespread shutdowns aren’t the answer. Utah’s approach of strongly emphasizing mask wearing and social distancing, while not shutting down schools or the economy, makes the most sense.
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