Massachusetts Senate Race Still Steers Clear Of SuperPAC Interference (Mostly)

from the good-for-them dept

I'd meant to write about this back when it was first announced, but the story got lost in the sea of unwritten stories around here. But with On The Media providing an update, I can revisit it. There's been lots of talk this election season about the rise of SuperPACs and their ability to take unlimited funds and advertise for (or against) political candidates, so long as the candidates don't "coordinate" with the SuperPAC (with "coordination" defined rather loosely). Many of the really nasty attack ads often come from those SuperPACs. However, up in Massachusetts the two major party Senate candidates surprised a lot of people by calling a "truce" back in January against SuperPACs. The way the "pledge" works, is that each candidate agrees if a SuperPAC runs an ad attacking the other one, they'll donate half the ad's costs to a charity within a few days. While the suspicious among you might think that this would lead a SuperPAC to run counteradvertising against the candidate it likes to force the other side to pay up, in reality, it appears to have mostly worked, with very little SuperPAC money showing up in Massachusetts and the TV ads not being nearly as nasty, despite it being a close fight.

Of course, some SuperPACs can't resist. Last week, Brown's campaign admitted that it had donated over $35,000 after SuperPACs had put out ads supporting him, against his own wishes. But those were fairly minor from the sound of it. On the whole, compared to other similar races, the lack of SuperPAC funding has meant a (slightly) more reasonable campaign, with not quite as much smearing.

The obvious question, then, is will other candidates in other races agree to the same kind of pledge? Unfortunately, as the OTM segment notes, that's unlikely. In most cases, SuperPAC money really benefits one party over the other, and no one wants to give up such a major advantage, even if voters think they're really annoyed by negative advertising. Tragically (from a human nature perspective), it still seems like such ads have an impact. That's really too bad on multiple levels. It would be nice if we, as a country, actually moved to a more civilized electoral process. It just seems unlikely to actually happen.

Filed Under: campaigning, elizabeth warren, massachusetts, negative advertising, pact, politics, scott brown, superpacs


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  1. icon
    jadamslsmo (profile), 5 Sep 2012 @ 8:01am

    Teaching moment for my 10 yr old

    My son doesn't generally talk about the political ads on TV, but he's heard mine and my wife's disgust of them. He is, however, subjected to political ads that precede YouTube videos that we don't see.
    He asked me, "Why is ??? running for office when he did this bad thing while in office before?" I explained that as a paid ad, the opponent can say just about anything they like as long as it is not an outright lie.
    My son competes in a swimming league. He has more enthusiasm than skill and it shows in the scores. I told him that I could go around and just tell people he DQ'd three events last weekend and not say another word. The look on his face told me I hit home with that example.
    I'm not so sure there's much I can do fight the political establishment. What I can do is teach my child that not all is as it seems. It is up to him to find out if there's more to the story/statement/candidate than what is in the ad.

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