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Campaign Ads Focus on Iraq, Immigration, Ethics

With the midterm elections nearing, campaign ads are filling the airwaves and promoting candidates' positions on various issues including the Iraq war and immigration. A political expert describes the strategies behind the ads.

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  • MARGARET WARNER:

    The place where most voters will learn about and decide between the candidates in these midterm elections is, as always, television. And while there are some televised debates, there's a virtual tsunami of television ads, an estimated $1.5 billion worth so far.

    To explore the issues that are dominating the campaign ad wars, we're joined by Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

    And, Kathleen Hall Jamieson, welcome back.

  • KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON, Annenberg Public Policy Center:

    Thank you.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    I'm not sure I can hear you.

  • KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON:

    Can you hear me?

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    Yes, I can now.

  • KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON:

    OK.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    You study the campaign ad war landscape. How does it look to you this year? How does it compare to other midterm elections?

  • KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON:

    Well, the more interesting comparison is to 2004, because in 2004 Senator Kerry made a great effort to separate Iraq from the war on terror. He said Saddam, after all, wasn't the one who attacked us. President Bush worked really hard to keep those two together.

    Well, this year, what you see is the Democrats are focusing on Iraq and the Republicans, when they focus on war, focus on war on terror and don't make much mention of Iraq. Net advantage on any discussion of Iraq to Democrats.

    We also, this year, I think, are going to see an unprecedented level of attacks, even for a midyear election. The reason, I think, the Republicans are attacking very, very strongly, I think because they think they can demobilize those who want to vote against the status quo, against the Republican incumbents, encourage them to stay home. And once attacked, the other side counterattacks. That pushes the volume of attack way up in elections.

    The other thing that makes this year different for the Democrats is Democrats usually have a lot of trouble finding a message. And this year, Democrats are highly coherent in their ads across the races, across the country.