Friends of Scott Walker
It isn't going to gain the governor any new voters, but it is an attempt to stop him from losing more women voters.
October is the month where political ads appear everywhere you turn in Wisconsin, in every possible medium. It is seriously creepy seeing Scott Walker's face pop up on Xbox Live.
Last week, the Cap Times published a piece about the making of several ads. As a way of adding more perspective, I decided to train a critical eye and review five spots released over the last week.
Here are the ads, ranked by what I think best to worst.
Among last week's ads, this is the only one that fully comes across as effective. It has a simple message: Mining will destroy the northwoods because of Gov. Walker's corruption. The imagery is over-the-top, but that's what political ads do. The environmental impact alone would be enough, but the spot's creators successfully found a way to reference the John Doe investigations without getting super wonky about it.
Mining has been a focus of Burke's campaign in northern Wisconsin, but it hasn't been talked about across much of the rest of the state. But Wisconsinites from all over enjoy going up north; if you don't have a cabin north of Hayward, you had a friend who does.
Everything Walker says here is a lie, but he says it very well. After four years of adding new restrictions on women's right to choose, you’d think people wouldn't fall towards these moves towards moderation. But Bush was able to dust off "compassionate conservatism" again in 2004 and Obama took hope out for a second lap in 2012. On an artistic level, the single shot of Walker works well in contrast to the overproduced nature of many political ads.
This spot is a defense against the Emily's List money being spent against Walker. It isn't going to gain the governor any new voters, but it is an attempt to stop him from losing more women voters. Right now, the gender gaps in Wisconsin are huge, but Walker has a higher percentage of female supporters than Burke has of male supporters. He needs to hold on to those fiscally conservative women to win.
The only downside for the Walker campaign is that releasing this ad makes the political reporters more willing to dig up Walker's previous statements about abortion. The media will often ignore liberal special interests like Emily's List, which doesn't have Milwaukee talk radio to amplify its message, but they'll fact-check something said by a candidate.
Everything "Decision" got right, this scattershot and directionless ad gets wrong. Walker attacks Burke because she attacked him. Plus, there is a tangential reference to Burke's "plagiarized" jobs plan oddly shoehorned into the first seven seconds. It feels like watching an episode in the middle of a season of a highly serialized TV show -- it is only reacting to previous events, it says nothing new.
Only at the end, when referring to jobs numbers and growth -- content largely repurposed from previous ads -- does the spot feel focused. Still, it is a far cry from the much stronger ads (think "Brown Bag") Walker had in his first run for office.
I love social math! It's a fun way to use analogies to make numbers relatable to people's everyday lives. The Burke campaign could have used social math to show how truly anemic and skewed Walker's tax cuts have been for the middle class.
Instead, they tried to use pizza, the second best food in the world after burritos, to make their point. People like pizza, and so telling them that Walker is buying them one pizza a month doesn't sound like a bad thing. "A pizza in every pot" would be a solid pro-Walker ad, at least it would be better than "The Facts" was.
Yes, Walker's tax cut may only be $11 a month, but there are boring things that people can buy for $11.
Worse, Burke's campaign doesn't actually follow through on the social math. It says the tax cut buys you a pizza, but then uses abstract numbers to talk about the much bigger tax cuts enjoyed by corporations and stock-footage businessmen standing on penthouse balconies. Give me another analogy to compare my pizza to! It should go like this: "If Walker's giving you enough to buy one pizza, he's giving corporations enough to buy a pizza the size of Janesville."
The businessman standing on a penthouse balcony is getting more pizza than me? Now that would make me angry.
Ah, so they've got the same name as those guys. Taco Bell used this same strategy by finding men named Ronald McDonald to promote waffle tacos. It seems rather pointless to me. Isn't someone who dislikes the Koch brothers already going to go vote? How does this boost turnout?
But maybe the AFL-CIO can find someone else with the last name Talaga to tell me why I'm wrong.