Practical Translation of Yesterday’s Supreme Court Decision

I’m not going to bore you with the complexity of campaign finance laws. Really, it’s tedious. But my prediction is that the end result voters will actually see will be an increase in attack ads.

The Morning Call‘s John Micek has rounded up some insights, one in particular stands out:

Larry Ceisler, a Democratic consultant from Philly, said he thinks that while corporations might hesitate, unions will jump in with both feet. He also said that there’s a risk that unfettered corporate speech might drown out candidates’ own ads, which could cost them control of their own messages.

“For instance, if an entity is supporting a candidate and doesn’t think the message is tough or sharp enough, they can go in and do it themselves,” he told the newspaper. “That could be good for a campaign – or disastrous.”

I would be willing to put money on the fact that groups will now go more negative earlier than any candidate will. It’s unfortunate, but it is the likely result. In the Brown-Coakley race, her campaign worked alongside national groups to bombard the airwaves in the last week with nothing but negative ads against Scott Brown. Yes he was elected, but you can’t really argue they didn’t work. Rasmussen found on election day that voters who made up their minds in the last few days before the election broke for Coakley at a higher rate. He also found that more of Coakley’s supporters were really going to vote against Brown rather than for Coakley than vice versa. Unfortunately for Coakley, she just didn’t get the ads on the air early enough.

After that loss, I would say to expect more and expect them earlier. Though hopefully they will stay off of the Weather Channel this time around.

UPDATE: Marginal Revolution has posted word clouds from both the majority and dissenting opinions to give you a better idea of what each side was focused on.

4 thoughts on “Practical Translation of Yesterday’s Supreme Court Decision”

  1. Great and informative post. Thanks!

    On thought …I’m not sure I agree that the poll indicating people who made up their mind in the last few days and went for Coakley has to do with her viciously negative ads (which I was in Boston to see, and people did not react to them well). I tend to think that in Mass the base tendency of voters is to vote Democrat, and when their mind still wasn’t made up they finally shifted to the party they’re most comfortable with. I know I’ve done this on issues — struggled to make up my mind, and in the end if no one has absolutely convinced me voted status quo. Status quo in Mass is Democrat.

    I don’t know … just what I was thinking.

  2. They broke for her 46% as opposed to breaking for Brown at only 41%. Obviously, that’s not a huge difference, but it is a difference. In a state with an electorate like Massachusetts, that could have been a much bigger problem if the ads started earlier. It probably would have been more of a problem for a general election than a special. You have to make a special effort to vote in a special, whereas people generally turn out more in a general. (Granted turnout was nothing to sneeze at in this race, but it wasn’t a double digit blowout by Brown so it’s not like he had tons of wiggle room to lose voters.)

  3. In a way, and as an advocate of individual responsibility …

    It will still be up to voters to cut through the BS and seek the truth about X, Y, or Z candidate.

    Does it get tiresome? Surely. But in this information age, people can and should learn to cut away the background noise and concentrate on relevant information.

  4. That’s what people should do, but it’s not what they actually do. If a pro-gun candidate starts to get lambasted, there’s really only one good way to counter it – people on the ground. When volunteers go door-to-door, it speaks volumes for a candidate. So while I’m a fan of freedom, I also realize that the shoe leather on the ground kind of work is going to be needed even more.

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