Wednesday, April 16, 2014
The Maine Republican Party appears to be getting into the reverse psychology game.
See the above mailer, which was provided by a couple of readers, one an enrolled Democrat, another a young unenrolled voter. On the surface, the ad appears to be a take-down of Cynthia Dill, the Democratic candidate running for the U.S. Senate.
David Sorensen, the communications director for the Maine Republican Party, wrote via text message that the mailer was designed to warn "all voters" about how liberal Dill is.
However, some of the language used here suggests the ad could have the opposite effect. Check out a few of the phrases:
* "Democrat Dill: There's no second-guessing where she stands ..."
Subtext: She's not like independent candidate Angus King, who hasn't said which party he'll caucus with.
* "Supports marriage equality"
Opponents of same-sex marriage don't call it "marriage equality," a term that implies that denying gays the right to marry is to deny them the same rights as everyone else.
* Under the tag Tree-Hugging environmentalist, the mailer includes this quote from Dill, "[Republican Charlie] Summers and King support the Keystone XL Pipeline. I don't. Excavating one of the world's dirtiest fuels, tar sands oil, and transporting the toxic revenue through America, to be shipped overseas, is an enormous environmental risk."
Typically the best way to criticize a candidate's opposition to a development project doesn't include allowing them to talk at length about "world's dirtiest fuels" and "environmental risks." If the goal was to illustrate why opposing Keystone is wrong, why not talk about polls that support it and the number jobs supporters say it will create?
* Under a Portland Press Herald banner the headline that says "Cynthia Dill: U.S. Senate campaign is a challenge against fear."
The criticism here is that Dill is courageous?
Remember: It's in Republicans' best interest to help, not hurt, Dill, whose increased support can erode King's lead in the race. That this mailer was sent to registered Democrats suggests that it was designed to dovetail with efforts by two national Republican groups to divide the support between Dill and King to give Summers a better chance at victory.
Steve Mistler covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald. He spends a lot of time in the hallways of the State House.