#NCSEN: A theory about that Tillis ad buy

Dr.-Evil-One-Million-DollarsThe NC House speaker’s fan club is beside itself over the Tillis for Senate campaign’s $1 million ad buy.  Mainstream media are touting the fact that the ad is biographical, does not mention Kay Hagan, or any of the other GOP candidates, or even Tillis’ tenure on Jones Street.   There is a lot of cooing over the price tag.  The ad buy is being spun as a sign of strength — burying Mighty Thom’s foes under an avalanche of advertising.  But IS it? 

Exhibit A: The Elon University Poll of February 23-26.  Take a look at the linked polling cross-tabs for the poll (especially page 17).  The survey shows that Tillis has a whopping 38 percent name ID.  Fifty-eight percent of respondents had no idea who the man is. This survey was taken after the man had already dropped $300,000 in his first ad buy.  He also holds one of the top elected positions in state government.  Tillis can flatulate and get press coverage.  Yet, he has 38 percent name ID.  

What ought to be more alarming for Theam Tillis was the favorability ratings respondents gave their man.  Combined — Democrats, Republicans and Independents gave Tillis an 18 percent favorability rating.  The total group gave him a 34 percent unfavorable rating.  The rest apparently had no idea what to think.   Republicans in the survey only gave Tillis a 29 percent favorable rating. 

You can dismiss the Elon poll as an aberration, but that survey’s numbers don’t stray too far from the findings in other polls of the GOP primary field.  The decision to downplay Tillis’ legislative service is wise.  At least one recent poll shows service in government is not exactly a plus for a Senate candidate.  

Tillis has been anointed by the media and the GOP Establishment as the inevitable nominee against Hagan.  He’s been able to out-fundraise his nearest primary opponents by roughly 3-to-1. Yet, he’s consistently showing poll numbers like this, and locked in a tight battle with Kay Hagan and multiple lesser-known, lesser-funded GOP rivals. 

This $1 million ad blitz is all about reversing the numbers like those found in the Elon Poll.  Sources tell me that Public Policy Polling is planning to poll the Senate race this weekend.  The ads should help boost the speaker’s name ID and favorability in time for the PPP survey.  Improved standing in that poll — which gets a lot of coverage statewide — will aid in the campaign cash chase and improve his standing in the primary field’s perceptions game.  (Sources tell me the Greg Brannon campaign will also be attempting to influence the PPP poll by sending out a huge statewide mailing touting their man.) 

Thanks to Tillis’ position in the House, there is a rather unfortunate perception of invincibility.  He’s been in the state House for four terms.  In his most competitive race — his first in 2006 — he won with 1805 votes to his opponent’s 1,061.  At most —  roughly 3000 people in a small sliver of Mecklenburg County have had a chance to evaluate him and vote on him.  Tillis convinced his GOP colleagues in the House — ranging at times from 50 to 70 people — to elect him to leadership posts.

Outside of the legislative building and that small sliver of Mecklenburg County, he’s a relatively unknown quantity.  The Raleigh-based mainstream media and the serious politicos may find that hard to believe. They live and breathe quorum calls, press conferences, and committee hearings.  But most people — too busy working to pay their bills and feed their families to fawn over politicians — have experience with the General Assembly that consists mostly of scratching their heads over just who the hell that guy or gal on the ballot is. 

Theam Tillis KNOWS they need to do some serious warm-fuzzy PR work on their guy.


13 thoughts on “#NCSEN: A theory about that Tillis ad buy

  1. “Theam Tillis KNOWS they need to do some serious warm-fuzzy PR work on their guy.”

    There ain’t no doubt about it. I would imagine that each theam realizes that warm-fuzzy PR work is always important in a primary campaign. You need all the good PR you can get right up until the voters return with the “verdict.”

    We are not talking “reasonable doubt” here, we are talking about those fickle voters.

    A investment of a million can buy a lot of warmth and fuzziness.

  2. Thanks DH, for all the investigative reporting. That meeting in Aspen, for instance, is something no one else reported (that I know of), and obviously was something the Theam for sure didn’t want noticed by the general public, let alone Primary-voting Republicans. Over the months in my mind, this guy has progressed from “I’m not impressed” to “this guy is a really bad choice” to (very lately) “five alarm disaster” for our Party. I sure don’t want to give Hagan another six but I have to believe that even that is preferable to letting this guy destroy our already weak Party credibility with the voters.

  3. Tillis is trying to put a face with the name early in the campaign. I am sure the voters will get to see plenty of attack ads directed at Tillis later in the campaign. Advertising early and often is almost as good as voting early and often. It will put pressure on the others to get into the race before Tillis wraps it up.

  4. Tilli$’ failure to mention his role in the legislature is very telling. Polls show it is an electoral liability. Tilli$ seems to acknowledge that by running away from his most significant credential in a biographical ad.

    Those who want to beat Hagan should take note of this. It gives Tilli$ a major electoral liability that no other GOP primary candidate has. Does anyone realistically believe that Democrats will ignore Tilli$’ role in the legislature in a general election campaign? If they do they are whistling past the graveyard. Democrats are already chortling with glee in the media about blasting Tilli$ on his legislative record. If Tilli$ is the nominee, we can expect millions of dollars to be spent by Democrat outside groups demonizing the legislature and Tilli$ role it in. That will not only kill Tilli$ but also hurt our legislative candidates who will not have enough resources to counter that media campaign in which they will be collateral damage.

    Tilli$ is the most unelectable of all of the primary candidates, and his nomination would also hurt our legislators.

    To be fair, our GOP legislature did a great job overall (largely thanks to the Senate, not Tilli$’ House) and does not deserve the bad rap they have received. Unfortunately, the leftists ”Blueprint” smear campaign got too much traction and has hurt their image. This plot was exposed before it was put into place and could have been counteracted if we had had a competent GOP leadership to do so. Unfortunately we had the incompetent Robin Hayes who sat there like a deer in the headlights and did no meaningful pushback even though he knew what they were up to.

    In politics, one does not deal with what is fair but what is the perception, and unfortunately due to Blueprint, the perception of being connected to the legislature is politically toxic. Tilli$ admitted he knows this by failing to mention his legislative role in these ads. Perception becomes reality in a political campaign. The stupidest thing the GOP could do in this US Senate race is nominate ANY state legislator, and Tilli$ is absolutely the worst among them due to a host of other factors. Nominating Tilli$ is a death wish for the party.

    Tilli$ GOP opponents should NOT directly attack Tilli$’ legislative role because we do not need to further damage our legislators. However there are good indirect ways to get this across to primary voters such as targeting Tilli$’ issue positions in the legislature, where it is the issue position you are attacking but just happen to mention he took that position as a member of the legislature. For example ”As a state legislator, Thom Tilli$ pushed legislation to create a state Obamacare exchange in North Carolina. Now Tilli$ runs ads claiming he is against Obamacare”

    1. Don’t you get it? Due to the smears of ”Blueprint” which the NCGOP was totally inept in countering, a legislative record is a big liability in the 2014 US Senate race. We need a nominee who does not have one in order to avoid the inevitable avalanche of outside Democrat group money that will pour into the state to blast the legislature with smears and distortions to get at Tilli$. We don’t need to risk our chances of winning the Senate seat nor our own legislators who would be collateral damage of that avalanche. This year it is absoutely essential that we run a candidate without a legislative record.

      1. “We need a nominee who does not have one in order to avoid the inevitable avalanche of outside Democrat group money that will pour into the state to blast the legislature with smears and distortions to get at Tilli$. We don’t need to risk our chances of winning the Senate seat nor our own legislators who would be collateral damage of that avalanche. This year it is absoutely essential that we run a candidate without a legislative record.”

        So we run a no-name candidate with no experience in elected office?

        That would indeed be a unique way to run a government. So the voters send non-experienced people to Washington, DC, to run the country. Isn’t that like buying a new car without a test drive? Buying the cow without sampling the milk? Becoming a doctor without having to do a residency?

        So we run a candidate without a legislative record against Kay because she has a legislative record. I guess the logic is that Kay’s record is bad and our guy is good since he ain’t got no record.

        Well, I will support our nominee even if he or she does not have a record. Or does have a record.

        1. Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and Ted Cruz had never held elected office before, and they are all mighty fine US Senators.

          In North Carolina, Jesse Helms, John East, and Lauch Faircloth also had never held elected office, but they are the best GOP Senators we have ever had. They represented the people and they represented principle, two things Toll Road Tilli$ knows nothing about.

  5. I attended the Nash County GOP convention last night and listened to all of the candidates very carefully. Here’s what I took away:

    Alexander U.S. Senate – Supports a con-con to add another useless amendment that will be ignored, believes the GOP has all the answers, wants a line item veto because he fails to understand the separation of powers principle.

    Mark Harris U.S. Senate (via spokesman) – the only candidate to attack the others, believes the government should play a role in the lives of individuals (not overtly stated but indicated by the rhetoric)

    Thom Tillis U.S. Senate – Used the term “we” (as in he and his elite associates – not we as individuals working toward common goals) more than any other candidate, believes in a strong interventionist/globalist foreign policy (wants to intervene in every foreign dispute in direct contradiction of our U.S. Constitution). Did not mention that he was just back from the Aspen Confab of globalists.

    Greg Brannon U.S. Senate – unable to attend – I’ve interviewed him on a prior occasion and perceive a strong understanding of Constitutionally limited government, the history of the founding of this nation, and a abhorrence of taking marching orders from the party or from an elite behind the scenes.

    Arthur Rich U.S. Congress 1st District NC (via spokesman) – means well but focuses on issues with the solution being more government programs and more complicated tax schemes. Views our Republic as a democracy. Much talk of “putting jobs in the district”

    Shypulefski U.S. Congress 1st District NC – Spoke of adherence to the U.S. Constitution, cutting government spending. Mentioned the ACA being well written but then going awry. (ACA was neither well written nor poorly implemented – it was bad from beginning to end.

    These were the Federal level candidates.

    1. Too bad Brannon could not be there. He would have put Tillis to shame. On the other hand, Tillis probably knew Brannon would not be there 🙂

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