Mayor Greg Ballard (R) and his campaign put out a new spot for television, and it's grim. A group of women, who I've independently confirmed to be Marion County residents and not professional actors, are shown talking directly to the camera and taking aim at mayoral candidate Melina Kennedy (D) and her record and alleged support for tax increases.
While the ad only quotes a column by Indianapolis Star columnist Matthew Tully near the beginning and doesn't source when Kennedy supported other tax increases, Star reporter Jon Murray did some asking and some digging and dug up Kennedy supporting tax increases during her run for Marion County Prosecutor in 2006.
Now, every election cycle we get the "ugh, negative ads and ominous music AGAIN" and people going on and on about how the American people deserve better and shouldn't be treated to low blow tactics like this.
But hey, if this didn't work, politicians wouldn't keep making these ads.
This ad addresses Kennedy's record directly and paints a dark picture. Tax increases are a big no-no in today's political environment and this ad could move low information voters toward a Ballard vote.
The simplicity in the ad, in black and white with the women speaking to the camera in plain language, makes it as if the women are speaking directly to the viewer. It was done beautifully, and I wouldn't be surprised if some higher ups in the state GOP helped cook this up in some focus group.
And while some of my political associates can easily rattle off dozens of tax increases and fee hikes that Ballard has supported, that doesn't matter if the viewer doesn't know about these issues. Outside of news junkies, municipal elections are filled with low information voters even moreso than Presidential elections. So the first impression can be very, very imporant, and hard to break.
The ad could be seen in a bad light because it's Ballard who has bought the taxes discussion to the table. This leaves the Kennedy camp room to fire back with their own ad to advance their own agenda. I know the Marion County Democrat Party put out some crappy YouTube videos in late 2010 that listed the various tax and fee hikes Ballard and the Republican council have supported, but surely they can do better.
And how else could it be bad? Well, if Ballard has to attack a candidate rather than run ads on his record, that might mean his internal polling shows him slipping. I wouldn't be surprised if he's still in the lead, but I suspect it's more within the standard margin of error rather than the 10 point lead county GOP chairman Kyle Walker has been touting.
Finally, did anyone else find it odd that it was Ballard's campaign committee that put this out, and not the county GOP or state GOP? Typically, the so-called "negative" ads and mailers are left for the political party to handle so the political candidate can officially distance themselves from it.
Jon Easter weighs in with his thoughts here.