Monday, February 4, 2013

The First Campaign Ad in the 2014 Montana Senate Race

In March 2012, a group called the Environmental Defense Fund launched the first television advertisement in the epic battle between Senator Jon Tester and Congressman Denny Rehberg. The spot attacked Congressman Rehberg for supporting lax regulations on mercury pollution. After that, the advertisements never seemed to stop. They did--no campaign ads appeared in April of 2011 or January of 2012. Otherwise, Montana voters were subjected to the most intense media environment in the country during the 2012 cycle. According to the Wesleyan Media Project, more than 90,000 spots aired in the Montana Senate race between June 2012 and the third week of October. That's more than any other Senate race in the country.

This past Friday, KXLH political reporter Marnee Banks tweeted that she saw the first ad of this cycle. The Stronger Montana Fund aired the issue advertising spot in support of Senator Max Baucus:

The estate tax was also an issue in the Tester-Rehberg race. It looks like outside groups are trying to preempt possible attacks on taxes early given that this is an area of traditional vulnerability for Democrats. What is instructive, too, is the fact that the first ad launched is one supporting Senator Baucus--which hints at some possible weaknesses in his armor. A poll conducted by PPP immediately following the November election showed Senator Baucus' favorability rating to be under 50 percent and less than Senator Tester's rating in the same poll in November of 2010.

If Montanans thought there would be a respite from political ads, they were wrong. We got two whole months off, and now it's back to business.

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