Gov. Ted Strickland plans to launch his first campaign commercials on primary day, marking an early start to his re-election bid, which has consisted largely of fund-raising thus far.Hmmm. That's a pretty heavy ad buy. I've heard as much as $500k. It's almost as if the Governor is attempting to distract from a highly negative story that's been getting a lot of press lately.
Media sources say Strickland, the incumbent Democrat unopposed in the primary, will first air commercials on network television affiliates in Cleveland, followed by commercials in Columbus and Dayton. He also is buying time on cable news programs. He appears to be buying a healthy amount of air time in each market, about 1,000 points in Cleveland and Columbus. (That means the average person should see the commercials 10 times during a week.)
As we've been saying for awhile, every poll out there, even the ones showing Strickland ahead, also show the Governor with some very high negatives. They also show Kasich with a name ID problem.
This poses Strickland with a problem. He needs to fix his own image while negatively defining his opponent. Unfortunately for Ted, voters tend not to believe such opposite messages coming from the same source at once.
So what should he do? Buy a major positive ad-buy. He's fixing his image.
And then what do we see sometime soon after? The Democratic Governor's Association, or some other third-party organization, going all-out negative against Kasich before he has a chance to define himself.
See what Ted did there? He gave himself cover and let an unaffiliated organization play attack dog.
This ain't cheap to do. And it's also the only option Ted Strickland has if he wants to win this race. While voters are clearly unhappy with the Governor, they aren't willing to support someone they haven't heard of yet. And if they haven't heard of him, they are vulnerable to negative ads that define Kasich first.
Additionally, voters aren't ready for attack ads straight from the candidate quite yet. Especially when it's coming from someone they feel has let them down. Strickland can't be a trusted voice on Kasich until he has fixed his own image.
The huge ad buy is a risky maneuver, and a costly one. Strickland has shown major problems raising cash the past two reporting periods and if that continues he may regret spending so much cash this early on a message that may not resonate. That's why he needs his attack surrogate to back him up soon after this buy.
Will it work? That depends on the reaction of the Kasich campaign and his surrogates. Do they feel the time is right to fire back? Is this when the war begins?
UPDATE: Unbelievably, Strickland went all-out negative. Considering his own negatives that's either incredibly bold or incredibly stupid. Here's the ad:
NAFTA, eh? You mean the same NAFTA Strickland himself doesn't want repealed?
Interestingly enough, Strickland's ad looks awfully similar to this ad from two years ago.
Same actress and everything.
And it just so happens she's been gainfully employed as a nurse for some time now.
Coverage of the rollout of Ted's inaugural video has been decidedly negative, focusing almost entirely on the Ad Rerun.
Not a good start, Ted. Not a good start at all.