Wednesday, September 24, 2014

NRA ads example of record outside spending; Grimes ad brackets what she's for with whom she's against

A busy Wednesday with less than six weeks left until the election:
  • "The National Rifle Association has reserved $11.4 million for its initial fall advertising campaign and will begin airing its first TV commercials," reports James Hohmann of Politico. The NRA has reserved $1.4 million of time in each state. "In Kentucky, the initial buy is $330,000" to help Sen. Mitch McConnell. "The two have traded gun-themed ads in recent days," notes Hohmann. UPDATE: The TV ad appears to be aimed at women. It uses a female spokesperson who advocates the right to buy the weapon of your choice and concludes, "Alison Lundergan Grimes won't protect your rights. Defend your right to self-defense. Defeat Alison Lundergan Grimes." The ad appears to have no basis in fact.
  • Guns have been a "hot accessory" during this election season nationally, not just in Kentucky, reports Jaime Fuller of The Washington Post. "Most of the close races this year also take place in states where presidential picks tend to go red," she writes. "Add millions of dollars of outside spending to the demographics and general midterm muck." Kentucky analyst Al Cross told her campaigns use guns because for some voters, "It's a touchstone issue . . . a way to evaluate politicians."
  • "With 43 days still to go until Election Day, outside spending has now surpassed the mark for most money ever spent in a midterm election," reports PBSNewshour. According to Federal Election Commission data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, "the $228 million (and climbing) spent by outside interest groups" is the most spent in any election with the exception of the 2012 presidential election. Kentucky's total of $15 million (pro-Democrat $5 million, pro-Republican $11 million) is tied for second with Iowa. North Carolina's had $22 million.
  • Grimes has  a new 30 second-television ad showing her talking to an enthusiastic crowd about the main issues she plans on tackling if elected, with jabs at McConnell at the start and finish.   
  • Grimes released a web ad Wednesday to counter an heavily aired attack ad from the pro-McConnell Kentucky Opportunity Coalition saying she supports amnesty for undocumented immigrants. The ad "features Republican U.S. Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina speaking in favor of an immigration reform bill that passed the Senate, without McConnell’s support, last year," reports Kevin Wheatley of cn|2's "Pure Politics." In the ad, McCain denies that the bill would grant amnesty. Meanwhile, the KOC started an ad similar to the first one.
  • Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight has released a Senate forecast model that combines hundreds of opinion polls "with historical and demographic information to calculate odds for each Senate race." They estimate the probability that each party will control the Senate. He estimates that McConnell has an 85 percent chance of winning, and that his most likely victory margin is 5 percentage points. The model forecasts that Republicans have a 58.5 percent change of winning the majority, in which case McConnell is expected to become majority leader.
  • Alexandra Jaffe of The Hill writes, "The Kentucky race could be slipping away from Democrats." Recent polls have all shown Grimes lagging behind McConnell, leaving Kentucky Democrats concerned that she let McConnell define her before she could define herself, and that a new strategy is called for. They says she needs to be less rehearsed and scripted, Jaffe writes, and "It’s known in Kentucky political circles that Grimes’s father, former state Democratic Party chairman Jerry Lundergan, has had an outsized influence on her campaign, one that some Democrats say has been to the detriment of her overall strategy."
  • The Lexington Herald-Leader's Sam Youngman discussed the irony of McConnell being President Obama's "Kentucky candidate" when it comes to battling the self-styled Islamic State. This is seen as a disadvantage for Grimes, since the Bluegrass Poll showed only 28 percent trusted her more on foreign policy. "Trouble in the Middle East benefits McConnell," said University of Kentucky political-science professor Stephen Voss. "Kentucky voters trust him, and the Republican Party in general, more on foreign affairs." He added, "Syria draws out the focus on foreign policy, and prevents Grimes from pivoting attention toward economic and domestic issues that would help her with Kentucky voters." Last week, Grimes's campaign told The Associated Press she would have voted for Obama's proposal to arm and train Syrian rebels only because it was part of a spending bill, and otherwise "would only vote for arming and training Syrians if there is compelling evidence that they are trustworthy and effective."
  • Grimes offered an opinion piece to The Courier-Journal naming the "six big things" she plans to tackle "on Day One" if she is elected: creating jobs and raising the minimum wage, ending tax benefits for moving jobs overseas, protecting and strengthening Social Security and Medicare, championing equal pay for equal work, sponsoring legislation to provide access to jobs for veterans, and reducing student loan debt in Kentucky. The Louisville newspaper has asked Sen. Mitch McConnell to contribute a similar piece.
  • Grimes's campaign stepped up its attacked on McConnell for siding with the coal industry instead of coal miners on issues of mine safety, extending it to McConnell's wife, Elaine Chao, who was labor secretary under George W. Bush. "Grimes spokeswoman Charly Norton said that Chao's tenure as head of the Labor Department, which includes the Mine Safety and Health Administration, was a disaster for miners," reports Dave Jamieson for The Huffington Post. The campaign noted that the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recently released data which found "a nasty form of black lung disease has rebounded to its highest level in decades in Central Appalachia, which includes Kentucky," Jamieson writes. "Workplace safety advocates agree with the Grimes campaign that Chao's Labor Department was cozy with the coal industry it was tasked with policing."
  • Adam Beam of The Associated Press writes that the heavy Senate spending is affecting other candidates' tactics. "Republican candidates in some of Kentucky's most contested races are pooling their money to run joint TV ads as they seek to win control of the state House," he reports. The Center for Public Integrity released a new survey revealing that Kentucky ranks next to last in "the amount of TV ad spending for state races," Beam writes. The center used research from Kantar Media/CMAG which tracks political advertising and offers estimates of the money spent to air each spot; it can be viewed here. This data does not include all political ad spending, leaving out radio, online and direct mail. TV spending in state races is expected to increase over the next few weeks.

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