Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 13:32 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 13:32 | SYDNEY

No offence, Mr Obama


Sam Roggeveen


6 August 2012 17:28

Last Friday James Fallows blogged about a Republican Party ad that makes a refreshingly subtle case against President Obama. Most of the ads I've seen so far have been tub-thumping affairs, designed seemingly to mobilise those who already support the candidate than convince the undecided.

This ad is different. One of the biggest advantages of incumbency is that voters don't like to admit they have made a mistake, even to themselves in the privacy of a voting booth. So they double down on the candidate they supported last time. This ad tries to make 2008 Obama voters feel OK about the 'mistake' they made:

Notice the comparative generosity toward Obama: 'he tried'. It's smart: after all, if your ad says or implies that Obama is an idiot, then what are you saying about the people who voted for him and who you are now trying to convince to vote for you? It reminds me of the Australian Labor Party's ads in the 2007 campaign. The ALP knew that then-Prime Minister John Howard remained personally popular, and that voters needed to feel OK about chucking him out. Notice the 'no offence' line, which signals 'nothing personal, we still like you, but your time's up':