While Tom Still may doubt the effect of shadowy third party ads, they certainly worked to keep Wisconsin voters home yesterday. Tom questioned if the debate participants were really that cynical since they were at the debate itself. What he does is make the mistake that political interest = democratic participation.
One certainly could go out of their way watching all the interviews, debates, third party ads, and in the end not vote. I certainly would agree third party ads increase “political interest”, but at the same time decreasing voter participation.
I watched the debate, like many others, and came away with Butler being the one who was best qualified to be on the court. I watched several of Butler’s ads from his website and was very impressed. Butler would be the determining factor that would get me to the polls on April 1, 2008.
In the end I did not vote yesterday. What changed since the debate and April 1st. Well I was blasted with negative ads, and it had an effect on me. What did me in was the ad from WEAC, which frankly I was ashamed of.
WEAC, of course was not alone, Xoff’s Greater Wisconsin Committee also had their share of shadowy ads. What these ads had in common was running Gableman style ads against Gableman himself. The ads focused on unverified and subtle ethic violations, and attacking Gableman for not being touch enough on criminals. When one invokes the “tough on crime” frame who do you think it benefits?
When I initially saw the liberal third party ads I thought they were directed against Butler. It was only later I realized they were on “his behalf”. This is the second election for Supreme Court in which liberal third party groups have cost the election. There is no doubt in my mind that if Butler was left to his own devices he would still have his seat on the Supreme Court.