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.