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A Tale of Two States in Ads and Football


Yes, Virginia it is almost over.

Yes, Ohio, Wisconsin, Colorado, Pennsylvania — and even New York lately — our long national nightmare of non-stop commercials have almost ended.

I was in Virginia over the weekend to be briefly reminded how lucky we are to live in New York State since it is a solid President Obama state and isn’t in play.

While visiting two of my children who live in Virginia, I almost was afraid of turning on the TV or answering the doorbell.

The ads were non-stop. On Sunday, I went to a local bar with my oldest son to watch the Bills flop against Houston. I went to the bathroom and I still couldn’t escape the ads. They were playing non-stop on a loud speaker. Talk about getting a captive audience.

 My children claim they stopped listening to the ads long ago and no ad or knock on the doorbell was going to change their minds.

Jim Haslett

My daughter left her house briefly, which meant I had to open the door to greet two 30something people who I assumed were Obama supporters. They were. They were looking for my daughter. When I told them she was out, they wanted to persuade me. I told them I was from New York and they had already won there so they moved on.

My youngest son, who is in an out-of-town college in a small town in New York near the Canadian border, had it the easiest. He told me Monday night that he had mailed in his ballot earlier in the day.

The popular theory is that younger voters are going to be less likely to vote than they were in 2008 when the history made by the Obama campaign excited them. I teach at two colleges and my anecdotal evidence is that college students appear to be just as engaged as they were four years ago.

The ads that I saw in Virginia weren’t really trying to appeal to college kids. The Mitt Romney ad that struck me the most featured a pretty woman in her late 30s or early 40s who spoke directly about the economic troubles in the country during the Obama Administration. She spoke as the camera caught images of a beautiful suburban house that suggested she and her family weren’t doing too badly. The images actually belied the message that was aimed at young  women voters who Mitt Romney needs to win Virginia. My immediate thought was: Couldn’t they have found a woman whose house symbolized the struggling economy?

I was thankful that ad from a Republican Political Action Committee hadn’t appeared in Western New York. But when I returned him, there she was — Miss Disappointed. I could only think the Romney PACs have so much money left over they are even pouring it in New York, where they know they can’t win.

The negative Obama ad from a PAC that struck me the most was one featuring workers displaced from one of the companies that Romney’s old Bain Capital took over. One of the unemployed guys featured in the ad looked like the guy in the silly, discredited anti-Chris Collins who talked about what the Republican congressional candidate supposedly did to Buffalo China workers when he took it over.

I’m not sure these negative PAC ads do their candidates any favors. Collins’ opponent, Kathy Hochul, may have even been hurt by PAC ads that even turn off her supporters.

I think the positive ads may work better. I saw a lot of Colin Powell, a Republican who endorsed President Obama again recently on the CBS Morning News. The ad is effective and may even make CBS relevant in the morning again.

Heck, even ESPN was relevant when the President and Mitt Romney appeared at halftime of the Monday Night Football game in interviews with softball-thrower Chris Berman. I almost would rather watch another campaign ad than watch ESPN’s Berman interview a presidential nominee again.

My final images of the campaign came this morning while watching NBC’s “Today.” It concerned the people standing behind President Obama and Romney as they gave their final messages at rallies that thousands of supporters attend.

Just about every person standing behind Romney was white. In contrast, the people behind President Obama were a diverse group with a high percentage of minorities.

The reporters and analysts didn’t mention that. But those images spoke louder than words and may even have a say on who wins the Presidency tonight or Wednesday morning.

My trip to Virginia didn’t only give some lessons about life in the swing state. It also gave me some lessons about the NFL.

As my son drove me to Union Station to catch a train to the Baltimore airport, we listened to a post-game show after the Washington Redskins lost at home to the woeful Carolina Panthers.

I felt like I didn’t need to fly home because I was home already. The analysts and the fans were calling for the head of Jim Haslett, the ex-Bill who is the Redskins defensive coordinator. Haslett was getting it worse than Bills D-coordinator Dave Wannstedt. They blasted Coach Mike Shanahan for abandoning the running game when they have one of the best running backs in the league. Shanahan was getting it worse than Bills Coach Chan Gailey. The major difference between Bills fans and Skins fans was that they believe in their quarterback, Robert Griffin III. But wait until next year Robert. Bills fans loved Ryan Fitzpatrick for awhile last season.

The point is that fans in just about every NFL city react the same way to losses and want to change coaches more quickly than they change presidents.




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4 responses to "A Tale of Two States in Ads and Football"

  1. Don says:

    I think the presidential political ads are running in Buffalo to reach McKean and Potter counties in Pa.

  2. Doug says:

    Don, they are running those adds in Rochester too.

  3. Ron says:

    I’m down here in VA on business for a few months and the ads are incessant. Thank God (whomever she is) it ends tonight. The funny thing about spending time in a swing state is the polling is quite accurate. I never bring up politics here because you have a 50/50 chance of being berated or praised. Oh, and don’t ever mention that the system is so fundamentally broken and corrupt and that the president is just a figurehead for the multinational banking system. Sparks will fly. Lol.

  4. Mike says:

    Hope this is cool to say to someone who critiques television and media, but I’ve cancelled cable during this election cycle and I’ve been gloriously free from ad attacks on the tube. Hulu and Amazon keeps me untainted. I became sickened with the political process back in ’04 when I saw a clip of Jake Gyllenhaal carrying a young voter on his back. Need a bump in the polls? Call Eva Longoria to stump for you. She’s free. The Desperate Housewives reboot is still another five years away, right?

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