Saturday, October 30, 2010

New O'Malley Ad: "Only One"

Both campaigns have launched their closing TV ads for the campaign. O'Malley has two, and Ehrlich has one. I've chosen to focus on one of O'Malley's ads - "Only One" - because I think it is representative of the overall theme that has guided the campaign.

Team O'Malley has clearly wanted to make this a race between two de facto incumbents, depriving Ehrlich of his ability to run as a change candidate in a change election year. In this new ad, the phrase "Two Governors" is the first thing viewers see. This cleverly hammers home the conclusion that Team O'Malley wants people to draw: You may want change, but neither of these candidates represents change. In other words, they continue to frame the race as a choice between the current and the previous status quo. In a state as solidly Democratic and incumbent-friendly as Maryland, the incumbent Democratic governor surely benefits.

Campaigns are won by the side that sets the terms of the debate. In my view, Team O'Malley - by relentlessly pushing a revisionist view of Ehrlich's record and, in the process, equalizing their records as tax-and-spend governors - succeeded in winning the message game.

In my view, the quality of the campaign waged by Team Ehrlich contributed to O'Malley's success. But, I will have more to say about that next week.


  1. If you are an observer of campaigns, you have to admit the O'Malley campaign was masterful.

    If O'Malley wins, this campaign should be the subject of someone's dissertation. They carried the fight to Ehrlich from the beginning with the ads on Ehrlich's radio show, and never stopped.

    Ehrlich was forced to constantly respond and was never able to advance his message. The negative ads clearly personally bothered Ehrlich, to the point where it seems to be all he wants to talk (whine) about.

  2. "a revisionist view of Ehrlich's record"

    C'mon now. There was a lot more fact than revision to O'Malley's ad. BOB EHRLICH was a huge spender. Ehrlich did make millions lobbying for gambling, tobacco and clients such as the failed Bay National Bank run by one of his appointees. No one bought Ehrlich's pathetic parsing.