Six influential Washington business groups, including five chambers of commerce and the Association of Washington Businesses, sent a letter to the US Chamber of Commerce criticizing their secret $1.5 million smear campaign against Democratic attorney general nominee Deborah Senn. [Chamber ads rile state groups]
Of course, from the tone and content of the letter, I think the real message was: “The next time you want to drop $1.5 million on a WA election, let us do it.” Apparently their major concern was that the attack ads were counterproductive, possibly helping Senn more than it hurt her.
I’m still not sure.
Senn had a huge advantage in state-wide name recognition, and the only polling data I saw showed her with a substantial lead weeks before the attack ads aired. When the primary results are certified, she’ll have squeaked by with less than a percentage point advantage. Furthermore, Mark Sidran did best in those markets where the ads aired heaviest.
The fact is, we see so many attack ads because they work, and these ads certainly cost Senn some primary votes, while weakening her for the general election. Whether they disrupted Sidran’s momentum in the final 10 days of the campaign, ultimately costing him the election, we’ll never know.
Personally, I think the local chambers’ weak disavowal of the US Chamber’s actions is rather disingenuous, for they clearly agree on strategy if not tactics. And if Senn loses in November, the ads will ultimately be deemed a success.