With the midterm elections almost here, the volume of attack ads is deafening. Spending on broadcast TV and national cable ads for U.S. Senate, House, and gubernatorial races has now topped $1 billion for the 2014 election cycle, according to a report released Oct. 29 by the Wesleyan Media Project.
The "closing argument" ads shown above have been airing in six states (Alaska, Arkansas, North Carolina, Colorado, Iowa and New Hampshire) since October 22. They will run through election day in a $6.5 million ad buy from Freedom Partners Action Fund (FPAF), the super PAC launched last June by the Koch brothers.
Instead of going on the attack, the ads use a gentle, testimonial style. They feature voters against a backdrop of classic Americana scenes, explaining how disappointed they are that the Democratic incumbent has strayed from local values.Besides Charles and David Koch, who kicked in $2 million each, top donors to the FPAF super PAC include New York hedge fund mogul and rising GOP kingmaker Robert Mercer ($2.5 million), who was sued last year for allegedly stiffing his household help; Texas oil billionaire Paul Foster ($1 million), whose association with the Koch network has previously caused controversy because of his position as chairman of the University of Texas System Board of Regents; and Arkansas poultry magnate Ronald Cameron, who gave $1 million.
"Yeah, we want to decrease regulations. Why? It's because we can make more profit, okay? Yeah, cut government spending so we don't have to pay so much taxes. When we focus on decreasing government spending, over-criminalization, decreasing taxes, it doesn't do it, okay? We've been reaching (this) third by telling them what's important - what we think is important should be important to them. And they're not responding and don't like it, okay? Well, we get business - what do we do? We want to find out what the customer wants, right, not what we want them to buy."Audio starts at 4:18 of Richard Fink's remarks In the run-up to Nov. 4, North Carolina has seen 2014's most intense battle of the airwaves in a Senate race, as detailed by the Wesleyan Media Project's report. There were over 20,000 ads aired in the two weeks from October 10-23, with 36.3% of the ads coming from pro-GOP outside groups, and 30.2% from pro-Democratic ones. Freedom Partners Action Fund ads during this period have attacked incumbent Democratic Senator Kay Hagan over non-ideological issues such as high wait times at VA hospitals and the Affordable Care Act's supposed negative effects on the quality of N.C. education.
Any voter who would be swayed by these ads would surely be interested in knowing the facts they left out. Namely, that Hagan's opponent Thom Tillis has consistently called for massive federal spending cuts and embraced Paul Ryan's budget plan, which would negatively affect the VA system. Or that as Speaker of the Republican-led N.C. House, he passed a budget last year that shortchanged education spending by $481 million, according to The New York Times.
FPAF ads have been running non-stop accusing Braley of "disrepecting farmers" when he warned donors that a Republican-led Senate would see "a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school, never practiced law" become the next chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He was referring to Iowa's Republican Senator, Chuck Grassley. Another ad says Braley is setting "the wrong kind of examples for children" because he missed votes in Congress. An online ad labels him "not very Iowa" because he complained to his neighborhood association about a neighbor whose chickens were roaming freely into his yard, fowl which were also the subject of other neighbors' complaints. It appears to be part of a six-figure digital ad buy from the Koch brothers' dark money group Americans for Prosperity.