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Democrats signal surrender with new Jindal attack ads

It’s official: Louisiana state Democrats have thrown in the towel, conceded that Republican Rep. Bobby Jindal will become the state’s next governor, if the kinds of attack ads they have started to run in select parts of the state indicate anything.

When encountering a candidate such as Jindal that has high positive evaluations from the electorate at large, and has a runaway lead in the polls, the only way he can be beaten (absent some major campaign blunder on his part) is to try to poison feelings about him in order to detach voters, and then direct them to an acceptable alternative. But there are more and less effective ways of doing this.

Democrats’ first salvo, about health care issues, demonstrated an attempt to try to do it the way that might actually succeed. If voters can be shown a candidate does not pursue broad policy options that they share, they will look for an alternative. However, Jindal began countering that ad immediately with effective responses which is the recommended strategy to negate the impact of such ads.

Now the Democrats have given a lesson on how not to do it, attacking Jindal not for any policy preferences, but for his religious views and people who donate to his campaign. Ad campaigns based upon personal smearing (with the exception of corruption issues) will tend to detach some voters, but they usually backfire in creating sympathy for a candidate seen as being unfairly treated through an invasion of his private life separate from the public square, and disgusts and thus discourages voters from participating including many who would have voted for other candidates. Even if they detach voters, since the attack is personal and not on the basis of issues, they are given no reason to vote for Democrats or anybody else. In other words, unlike the other strategy, this one cannot turn a winner into a loser and losers into winners; it best it depresses support for everybody and at worst actually helps the attacked candidate by generating sympathy for him.

But that’s the entire point of the state Democrats’ intentions. With the launching of these kinds of attempted character assassination and guilt-by-association ads, they tell us they have given up keeping Jindal out of the Governor’s Mansion. Rather, knowing political tides heavily favor Jindal and any Republican that can catch his coattails, with these ads Democrats aim to accomplish two things: limit downballot damage to the party’s candidates now and to try to contain Jindal from becoming a national threat in the future.

While the ads may not reduce Jindal’s support relative to other candidates enough to stop his winning, it may keep enough voters away who would have flipped levers for Republicans in other contests, or even (in a macabre kind of amputation of one part to save another) motivate uninvolved Democrats appalled at the attacks to hit the polls in Jindal’s favor, but who also then vote Democrat for other offices. And national Democrats fear Jindal becoming a national force so a pre-emptive strike of this nature, years before Jindal becomes a serious White House contender, is designed to signal Jindal and his supporters what they can expect if he goes national in order to discourage such thinking. (State Democrats’ noncommittal comments about the religious attack ads indicate it really is the national party driving this one.)

Louisiana voters deserve campaign information about things that matter. Desperate Democrats have waved the white flag on Jindal and will do all they can to prevent any serious discussion about issues affecting the state through election day.


James H said...

I have been asking this question on my blog all day? WHere are the Democrat elected offical coming out against this and telling their state party to take this site and ads off the air.

Does Senator Adley agree with this? DOes my Fellow Catholic Rick Gallot? What about Lydia Jackson? Are they also on the State Central commiteee. THe Baton rouge office of the Democrat party is not some untouchable enity. If their people told them to stop they would.

ALso do they realize that this is making NOrth Louisiana look like racist intolerant yahoos? That is the sub story line in the National press stories I see. SOmething that is very untrue and a myth that for some reason keeps on getting currency.

Will the Louisiana Catholic Bishops speak out? Most of these ads are being run in the Diocese of Shreveport where we have no Bishop at the moment. We did some people to stick up for us and advocate for us that this behavior crosses a line.

Anonymous said...

Why has Bobby Jindal been placed on a pedestal and suddenly now that he is Catholic can do no wrong? Can't Catholics err? Look at the "Holier that Thou" David Vitter. By the way Bobby, Catholics are not "born again"! Perhaps you missed that class in your conversion!