Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Colorado Senate Race Serves as Iran Test Case

A shadowy group opposed to the Iranian agreement and Senator Michael Bennet’s decision to
Photo: Lauren Washington/Oberlin College
support it has launched an over-the-top television advertisement using the fear of nuclear conflagration as its visual theme. The TV buy is miniscule. The group mainly wants to start an online and free media buzz about the topic, Bennet and their motivations. They are likely to accomplish their goal.

There are a number of possible factors motivating the funders of this activity:
  • Keep Colorado’s senate race in the news. Republicans need Colorado to be vulnerable and potentially a pick-up if they are to hold the U.S. Senate.
  • Encourage a high-quality senate candidate into the race. George Brauchler is the top target, but there are other possibilities.
  • See if the issue can rough up Bennet’s re-election numbers and approval rating.
  • Use as a test case for possible application in other states with vulnerable Democrats.
The ad is a low tech knock-off of the 1964 “Daisy” ad that Lyndon B. Johnson used against Barry Goldwater to reinforce with nuclear drama the Democrats’ effort to paint Goldwater as trigger-happy in the midst of the Cold War and post the Cuban Missile Crises era. Ironically, it was Johnson who got the country into the Vietnam War.

The Iran nuclear agreement is likely to be one of the major issues in 2016 because foreign policy has a Republican advantage and they intend on highlighting it. The issue was a close call for Bennet (he decided late) and remains controversial with at least half the public. Although it’s not clear it will be salient in twelve months from now, it will be on the list.

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