The Minnesota Republican Party was savvy to immediately launch a television ad blistering the transportation tax increase passed by a bipartisan super-majority in the Legislature.
It’s not a particularly good ad. It looks like a thousand other doomsday political attack ads, and its glum tone is so over-the-top that many will tune out. The Governor appears so upset with the limpness of his Taxpayer Protection Pen that his mullet is standing positively on-end, which surely will impress his suitor Senator McCain.
But as Woody Allen said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” And this ad is successful mostly because it shows up at the right time. The ad launch got Republicans a boatload of free news media coverage. They may get as much advantage out of the news coverage of the ad as out of the ad placement itself. (Curiously, political reporters seem to not understand or care that they are being used as pawns in this way.)
Moreover, the key message repetition that paid media delivers will cement this framing in voters’ minds during this “educable moment,” when the issue is still fresh in Minnesotans’ mind. Political parties typically dump all their TV ads on the air in the final weeks before an election when there is so much message clutter that everyone is tuning out. The Republicans are wise to frame the issue now, when the stage is less crowded.
The Republican’s preference for taxing the next generation (through bonding), rather than the current generation (through gas user taxes) is shameful. But this communications tactic serves their electoral interests well.