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Political Campaign Advertising

Political Campaign Advertising - Corey Cohen Godless Corey...

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Corey Cohen “Godless” Corey Cohen Professor Keller SMPA 155 10/15/09 It was the historical election year of 2008, and the context behind the North
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Corey Cohen Carolina Senate campaign includes state senator Kay Hagan challenging incumbent Senator Elizabeth Dole. Dole had the misfortune of being a Republican during this election cycle with a deeply unpopular Republican President, George W. Bush. The economy was in absolute shambles. It was a perfect storm for Democrats to take back the White House and make tremendous gains in Congress. Hagan sold herself to the North Carolinians as a soccer mom turned businesswoman turned political reformer in the state senate. She typified what it meant to be a moderate throughout her campaign; touting budgets she helped balance and bipartisan bills she passed. On the other hand, Dole was one of the most conservative members of the Senate. She voted yes on Bush’s energy policy in 2003, received a high rating from the corporate business community, and is in favor of school prayer (“Elizabeth Dole on the Issues”). The issue that Hagan focused on more than anything throughout the campaign was the economy. Senator Dole consistently voted with the Republican line and George W. Bush while in office and it came back to hurt her. When scrolling through several of Hagan’s ads the message is mostly framed around the economy, special interests, and how Senator Dole does not understand working families. Her campaign was astute in doing this since it was able to capture a lot of the energy generated by Barack Obama’s well-tuned message of “change.” Furthermore by putting most of her focus on domestic issues, Hagan was able to make the election about a topic the public has more faith in the Democrats to handle than Republicans (Keller 9/01/09). In May 2008 Elizabeth Dole had a lead of 7 percentage points, with nearly 11 percent of voters undecided (Pollster). But it could be said that momentum was
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Corey Cohen consistently in Hagan’s favor since “121,000 Democrats registered to vote in the Tar Heel State compared with 13,000 Republicans,” between the months of January and June (Wyman). This trend can be understood by inspecting the variety of polls ever so slightly closing up until the end of July came, when a big shift in Hagan’s favor can be observed. Coupled with the numerical discrepancy in newly registered voters, a lot of independents were being brought into Hagan’s fold. By the middle of September Hagan took the lead over Dole and never looked back, steadily increasing her lead until Election Day. The particular ad being looked at is called “Godless,” a criticism of Hagan’s judgment and beliefs that was aired in later October when she was up approximately 3-4 percentage points. At that moment in the campaign, the ad must be looked at as a “Hail Mary” pass in football. It was extremely late in the game, and it was an all-or-nothing toss that Republican strategists thought could have brought more Dole supporters out to the voting booth. The Spot
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