Who is swayed by it? – EDF Action and LCV’s ad campaign in PA
Since July of this year, EDF Action and the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) have jointly poured USD 1.5 million in support of Katie McGinty’s (D) bid for Pennsylvania’s Senate seat. Polls are showing McGinty and incumbent Senator Toomey (R) head-to-head, but – depending on which poll you trust most - around 20% of likely voters are still unsure of whom to vote for. Among the group of undecideds, women and ideologically moderates and independents are most likely to have not made up their minds about the candidates yet.
So far, the race has kept campaign ad makers busy with groups like the Senate Majority PAC, Planned Parenthood, and Women Vote investing large sums of money into McGinty’s campaign while the NRSC, Club for Growth, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Prosperity for Pennsylvania are backing Toomey.
Amid this media jungle of self-presentations, endorsements, and attacks on the opponent’s track record and future plans EDF Action and LCV launched their two videos: “Friend” and “Across.”
While the candidate’s stances on gun rights (or here) have garnered the most attention most recently, the two clips hone in on Toomey’s record of giving tax breaks to oil companies. The Pennsylvanian Morning Call newspaper judged the content of the ads to be accurate, reiterating that a significant portion of Toomey’s campaign funds come from the oil lobby who see Toomey as their candidate based on his track-record.
But with whom are the EDF/LCV ads supposed to resonate?
Emphasising Toomey’s millionaire status, his tax breaks for the “rich and powerful,” and support of “polluting, big business,” uses a narrative that tries to aggravate the negative image of incumbent Toomey (42% disapprove and 32% approve of his job performance). This strategy may try to sway some of the 38% of the people who haven’t made up their minds about McGinty yet. At the same time, the insinuated opposition against “us” is broad enough to accommodate the 28% of independents who are still undecided while turning out the Democratic base, which the same recent poll has at 19% still being undecided. With few public polls ranking the issues voters are most concerned about in Pennsylvania specifically one could turn to questions that ask about the most important issues facing the next president.
A Suffolk University poll indicates that climate change is among the least often mentioned issues by voters in the state whereas jobs and the economy land second to the top of the priority list. In this light, the decision not to accentuate McGinty’s achievements on the environmental agenda becomes more understandable. While the EDF/LCV clips cultivate the image of Toomey turning his back on his constituents in the difficult economic climate, the Toomey camp shoots back highlighting that McGinty would create “fewer natural gas jobs” and would push for “citizenship for illegal immigrants, making them eligible for welfare.” In how far these claims resonate with the moderates, who will likely decide the race, is questionable.