Voters put up with a lot in campaign ads.
Any political media consultant will tell you — including this former one, who produced hundreds of political spots — that the First Amendment covers a lot of hijinks, including creative editing, mood music, Photoshop and much more.
But the ultimate criterion by which any political spot is judged is this: Is it effective? Does it move voters?
A recent spot in Iowa — one of the most pro-gun and politically conservative states in the nation — may not meet that standard.
It was produced for the Senate campaign of Democrat candidate Eddie Mauro, a businessman who last year lost a primary challenge for Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District to Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne, the Des Moines Register reported and Fox News shared.
And in such an enthusiastically pro-Second Amendment state as Iowa, it has the potential to backfire — pardon the pun — and actually lose Mauro votes.
The ad viciously targets incumbent Sen. Jodi Ernst (R-Iowa).
It says, in part, “She doesn’t seem to care that many … guns will be pointed at our kids, our teachers, churchgoers, moviegoers, concertgoers, police officers. Well, I care.”
See the ad below — as well as Ernst’s response to it.
“Churchgoers” and “moviegoers”?
Given the horrific gun tragedies that have occurred in our nation in those venues among others, that’s a bit much.
The edits in the clips from an old Ernst spot make it seem as if Ernst is actually shooting at Mauro.
Mauro goes on to follow the usual Democrat talking points, including vitriol against President Donald Trump and the NRA.
But the eyes and ears of viewers are focused on the rounds throughout the spot. Where will they strike next? That’s what you’re supposed to wonder.
However, in a state like Iowa, viewers are probably wondering why Ernst, a noted shot and gun enthusiast, keeps missing a slow walking target like Mauro.
Ernst is popular in the state because of her background, her record, and her conservative views.
She is a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel and a divorced single mom. She’s overcome great personal adversity to gain professional success.
Ernst was an Iowa state senator before she was elected a U.S. senator in 2014. Her popularity numbers in the Hawkeye State are high.
So why would the Mauro campaign team produce an essentially anti-gun spot in a very pro-gun state?
And why is the ad going after Ernst at this early point anyway, when Mauro presumably will have to get through a Democrat primary first?
Every political media producer is an armchair Fellini. The lighting is good in the spot; the candidate speaks well; the shots offer a nifty special effect.
So the ad will do more good for the media team’s marketing efforts to gain future clients than it will to actually aid the Mauro campaign.
Voters and everyday Americans are not idiots — and certainly not in a place like Iowa, where they want their politics straight and candid.
As cinematically interesting as one may argue the ad is, a contrived spot parroting left-wing platitudes won’t move voters.
And in the final analysis against Ernst — it’s useless.
It may actually even help her.
See these tweets — and share your thoughts.
That's a lot of gun fire for an anti-NRA ad.
— Jacob Culbertson (@vetjr89) December 6, 2019
How did you think portraying a United States Senator as shooting at you would be a good idea?
— Matt Whitlock (@mattdizwhitlock) December 5, 2019