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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

PA-10: Carney (D) First to Go Up on TV

Posted by DavidNYC

This is good news. From a Carney campaign press release:

Today, Chris Carney put his first television ad, "Pennsylvania Values" on the air. This is a huge victory because Don Sherwood has already started a campaign of negative attacks that the Towanda Daily Review called "ugly," "irresponsible," and a "low blow."

"Chris Carney beat Don Sherwood to television so he can tell the truth about himself, his family, and the values he will take to Washington," said Carney campaign manager Andrew Eldredge-Martin. "Beating Sherwood to television is a huge victory for all the Democrats, Republicans, and Independents who support our campaign to take our values back to Congress. In fact, this first ad includes both Republican and Democratic supporters who are all ready for a change in Washington."

You can find the ad here.

Why, you might be asking, does this matter? I mean, doesn't this seem like the ultimate insider baseball - who has ads on TV first? It's not like voters care about ridiculous stuff like this, right? Well, of course they don't. But what matters - as Carney's campaign manager explains above - is that Carney can now tell his story to the voters of the tenth district. By going up on TV before Sherwood does, Carney can blunt Sherwood's ability to drive up Carney's negatives.

Chris Bowers has a new post up on the so-called "incumbent rule," which holds that most undecided voters will break for a challenger on election day. However, this rule has weakened considerably in recent elections, notably in 2002 (see Wayne Allard, CO-Sen) and especially in 2004 (George Bush and many others).

One of the oft-cited reasons (discussed by Chris) for this phenomenon is that incumbents have started slamming their opponents hard and early. Thus, by the time undecided voters get to the polling booth, they are presented not with one known and one unknown quantity, but rather one known and one undesirable quantity. So naturally, they start sticking with the incumbent.

Carney is in a fortunate position, in that he has enough cash to go up on the air, and in that the media market in PA-10 is very, very cheap (especially compared to other competitive Northeastern races). Every Democrat who can expect a nasty, negative campaign from his or her opponent (ie, every Democrat on the face of the earth) should consider taking a cue from this move.

Now, I'm not merely extolling the virtues of paid media, which many consultants will do to the deleterious exclusion of all else. Rather, I'm praising Carney's timing. If you're gonna spend money to get noticed, and you can afford to go up before your opponent slanders you as a lily-livered, Bible-burning, hate-America terra-ist, then do it. Obviously, the move has to be carefully calculated - you don't want to wind up like Matt Brown in Rhode Island. But, of course, you also don't want to wait too long to go on the offensive. Just ask John Kerry.

Posted at 12:57 PM in 2006 Elections - House, Pennsylvania | Technorati

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What media market caters to PA-10 that's so inexpensive? Scranton-Wilkes Barre?

Posted by: Mark [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 16, 2006 02:00 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Precisely, Mark. It's a totally different ballgame from Philly.

Posted by: DavidNYC [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 16, 2006 02:06 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment