IA-03 catch-up thread, with tv ads about education and terrorism

Although all four of Iowa’s Congressional districts are targeted in theory, only the third district is seeing large-scale independent expenditures as well as broadcast advertising by the candidates.

Today Democratic nominee Staci Appel’s campaign launched a new positive ad, focusing on her support for public education at all levels. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released a new spot bashing Republican nominee David Young over his call to eliminate the U.S. Department of Education. Meanwhile, the National Republican Congressional Committee is out with a new ad today about the same “passports for terrorists” canard they featured in their last Iowa effort. Clearly they think this is their strongest card against Appel, and they won’t stop no matter how many news media report her real position on the issue.

Videos and transcripts of all the latest ads are after the jump.

I haven’t seen any new commercials from Young’s campaign lately. Justin Sink reported for The Hill that Young cancelled $107,000 in “reserved television ad time in the Omaha market through election day, according to a source tracking ad buys.” Roughly 20 percent of the voters in IA-03 live in the Omaha viewing area, most of them in Pottawattamie County (Council Bluffs). Residents of Mills, Montgomery, Fremont, Page, and Cass counties also receive Omaha television stations, as do some Iowans living in Adams, Adair, and Taylor counties. Click here for voter registration numbers in all of the 16 IA-03 counties.

The NRCC has pledged to spend $1.5 million on this race between Labor Day and November 4, but to my knowledge, they have only been running their anti-Appel ads in the Des Moines market, not in Omaha. The Appel campaign maintains they are already on broadcast networks in Omaha and will be on cable there shortly, for the duration of the campaign.

Last week the DCCC released partial results from an internal poll showing Appel slightly ahead of Young by 47 percent to 44 percent. I expect this race to remain close all the way up to election day. While Republicans have a slight advantage in voter registrations, Democrats lead so far in absentee ballots requested by voters in the district.

Appel for Iowa tv ad, “Kids”:

My transcript:

Staci Appel speaks to the camera: I have six children in public schools, and like all parents, I want to make sure that they get a good education and then a good job here in Iowa. [Appel next to her vehicle while five of her kids climb out. Her name is on screen and her kids’ names appear as they leave the van: Ted, Jacob, Michael, Olivia, and Isaac.]

Isaac speaking to his mom: Later, Mom.

Appel’s voice continues: In the State Senate, I worked with Democrats and Republicans to get quality, voluntary pre-school for all. [Viewer sees photo of her talking to someone at the state Capitol, then footage of her with a child; words on screen STACI APPEL QUALITY, VOLUNTARY PRE-SCHOOL FOR ALL]

In Congress, I’ll work for affordable college loans, so kids get the skills they need to compete. [footage of Appel talking with young woman, Appel at a computer terminal with another young woman; words on screen: STACI APPEL AFFORDABLE COLLEGE LOANS]

Appel speaks to camera again, standing next to her van: We can’t lose sight of our schools… or our kids! [Appel’s youngest child Samuel climbs out of the van]

My name’s Staci Appel and I approve this message. [footage of Appel walking with her kids outdoors]

This may be my favorite of Appel’s commercials so far. The message is simple, and the visuals are good. The voluntary preschool program for four-year-olds has massively increased access to early childhood education. Not only does Appel have a substantive record on this issue, putting education front and center plays to a natural strength of almost any Democratic candidate for Congress. People tend to think of Democrats as more likely to protect funding for public education.

Side note: for anyone wondering why Appel’s husband does not appear with the rest of the family in any tv ads, Brent Appel is an Iowa Supreme Court justice and therefor not allowed to participate in any campaign activities.

The flip side of Democrats standing up for education funding is Republicans trying to cut education funding. That’s the theme of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee latest ad, “Zero”:

My transcript:

Male voice-over: In Iowa, there are nearly 500,000 school kids. And zero Wall Street bankers. [graphics show a boy and a girl with the number 500,000 against the backdrop of a the Des Moines skyline and a barn; then a graphic of a man wearing a suit and tie (signifying a Wall Street banker) with the number 0]

But in Congress, Washington insider David Young would eliminate the Department of Education and slash funding for Iowa schools just to give more tax breaks to the bankers and millionaires. [graphics show U.S. Capitol, picture of Young’s face on a classroom chalkboard, words on screen WASHINGTON INSIDER DAVID YOUNG  CUT EDUCATION BY $4 BILLION  DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, 7/14/14; line slashes through screen; then image of many Wall Street bankers in suits standing against backdrop of New York skyline; words on screen DAVID YOUNG $200,000 TAX BREAKS FOR MILLIONAIRES AP, 4/11/14, CTJ, 4/02/14]

Because unlike Iowa students, they’re funding Young’s campaign. [graphic shows bags of money flying from the Wall Street bankers toward an image of Young]

DC David Young. He just won’t work for Iowa. [image of Young’s face remains on screen; words DAVID YOUNG WILL NEVER WORK FOR IOWA]

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising.

Although I think education plays to Appel’s strengths, I am not convinced a commercial like this has much impact. It looks and sounds like a thousand other political ads, which makes me suspect non-junkies will immediately tune it out or change the channel.

During the U.S. Senate debate on Sunday, Republican Joni Ernst insisted that closing the Department of Education would not threaten Pell Grants or funding for schools, as those could be moved to the Treasury Department. My hunch is that Young will take a similar tack if asked about this issue during the next IA-03 debate.

Naturally, Young’s allies do not want Iowans thinking about education as they decide whom to support in IA-03. That’s why the latest spot from the National Republican Congressional Committee has a familiar ring to it. Here’s “Fools”:

My transcript:

Female voice-over: Staci Appel must think Iowans are fools. (Viewer sees footage from the commercial Appel made in response to the first NRCC “passports for terrorists” salvo; words on screen STACI APPEL MUST THINK IOWANS ARE FOOLS)

In a debate on 9/11, Appel said terrorists should be able to keep U.S. passports. [graphic shows a passport with a smiling picture of Appel; the passport has her name on it and a stamp reading TERRORISTS SHOULD BE ABLE TO KEEP U.S. PASSPORTS above a photo of terrorists carrying weapons on a military vehicle]

Watch Appel’s bad judgment yourself.

Clip of Appel from September 11 debate: I would not be urging we, um… taking away their passports. (words on screen STACI APPEL: Iowa Press, 9/11/14]

Rewind sound, then clip plays again: I would not be urging we taking away their passports.

Voice-over: Terrorists don’t deserve passports, and Staci Appel doesn’t deserve our vote. [graphic shows Appel’s image on a passport, words on screen STACI APPEL DOESN’T DESERVE OUR VOTE]

The National Republican Congressional Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising.

Could they be any more heavy-handed? And could they find a more whiny voice-over?

This commercial offers nothing new, it’s just trying to keep voters “primed” to think about terrorist threats. Appel already explained her real position on this issue many times. I would like to believe the ad won’t work, but research has shown priming to be an effective means of influencing voters.

Any comments about the IA-03 race are welcome in this thread.

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  • Commercial

    I like the latest Appel spot, too. I just like seeing all the kids spilling out of the car. When I watch this, I’m thinking ‘wow wouldn’t it be great to have a real person like this in Congress’ ?  I know the Appels are very well off financially, and have it better than most. But at least she has a clue about what the average family deals with these days .

    Staci has her drawbacks as a candidate, but so be it. She stuck her neck out when no one else would. Her people have run a pretty good campaign all things considered, IMHO. A shout out to Ben Miller et al.  

    And focusing all the attention on the terrorist issue could backfire on the GOP.  No one except the lowest of low info voters will believe that Staci Appel is pro terrorist. Ridiculous, and a real reach.

    • Negative ads will backfire.

      She was concerned about due process and these attack ads will make her more sympathetic to the citizens of Iowa 3.  Plus kids are a good thing.