The understanding we’ve had since television became a vehicle toward election success by candidates, especially the lesser known, first-timers in politics, is their belief they can have a greater reach with voters, and those who aren’t really tuned in that much to government by portraying themselves on the screen as being in touch with the realities of the common person. The reach is there. The candidate handlers hope the name and face catch on with those voters who walk into the polling place unsure of whom to vote for but will get a brain flash from a commercial when it’s decision time.
They tell us this brain flash works when selling a product and the shopper is gazing at a store shelf wondering which brand to buy. Will it be the Democratic or Republican name and face they buy in the polling booth?
Commercials on the tube are expensive. Some of them are so insulting to the mind one wonders about the people who produce them. We also have to wonder about the companies that buy the commercial ideas. Some of the commercials are clever and well done. Then we have viewers who aren’t reached with the message because they will tell you they don’t understand them. Product recall while looking at the shelf may be lost in the jungle of nonconnection.
But political TV ads usually are pretty simple and often misleading. Does that mean the majority of voters are simple-minded creatures? No, it means the effort is made to merely connect with those in the mob of the casual paying attention voters who may cast a ballot if it’s a good election memory day for them.
We thought of all of this last Thursday when the TV boys and girls were in town to film some commercials for Sen. Claire McCaskill, who is seeking re-election to a second term.
The advance team wanted scenes of the candidate in a small Missouri town that represented the values present outside the big cities. Local members of her party were informed of the film shooting and turned out to say hello and even to be in a commercial. The TV crew and consultants seemed rather large in number but that’s big-time commercial filming.
The senator went along with all of it and was a patient commercial headliner. She took time for an interview with The Missourian (part of the filming was across the street from our downtown office) and even was a good client for a makeup session in our front office. We believe that was a first for The Missourian to have a U.S. senator being applied makeup in our office. But that’s what makes this profession so interesting — we don’t know what each day might bring.
There was a bit of commotion due to the filming but no policemen were necessary to keep the crowd in check. It went on for hours and there were a number of retakes. It’s easy to see why TV commercials are so costly. The senator got in some campaigning in between the takes. She’s a down-to-earth person who meets people as easily as she answers questions quickly and to the point. We didn’t agree with all of her answers but there was no arguing. Her daughter and sister were among the visitors and they are an asset to the senator.
Witnessing all of this also was a veteran journalistic friend who may write a bio of the senator.
It won’t be the first time we have been wrong, and surely not the last, but seeing Sen. McCaskill from afar (in D.C.) and near, the judgment is that by being in her sixth year in the club called the Senate, she’s not a card-carrying member of the establishment. She’s caused some unpleasant ripples among club members and certainly among the bureaucracy.
She is a champion of accountability and isn’t afraid to buck the president who heads her party. She needs to re-examine her stance on ObamaCare and on issues such as abortion. It’s reassuring she is well aware of the need for a new Missouri River bridge here.
We believe her when she calls for the need to compromise to move needed legislation forward. We do believe she’s more to the middle than to the left. Her re-election chances? The president is not that popular in Missouri. She has moved some distance from him on some issues. She needs to move even more on some issues. With three Republicans seeking the nomination for her office, polls indicate that it may be a close election in November. There is no clear-cut favorite at this time. Sen. McCaskill knows she has much re-election work to do. She’s a fighter and will do what it takes to put forth an all-out effort.