The big story in both the races for Governor and Senate this month has been pretty much the same: a large independent expenditure attacking the Republican candidate.
That sort of thing should move the numbers strongly in the Democrat's direction, and in one of the races it has. Kay Hagan has gained an average of 8.3 points among the three polling companies that polled her race in both July and August.
That's not a surprise. The ads on her behalf have been focused and salient. Nothing is more important for an elected official than their effectiveness in their job, and the DSCC's campaign has gone right to the heart of that. Voters have a short attention span and running multiple ads on that same basic theme has done a good job of eroding Dole's support.
The independent expenditure by the Alliance for North Carolina, on the other hand, has not helped Bev Perdue's numbers at all. Where the DSCC ads are disciplined and on point the Alliance ads are all over the place.
The first ad, in a span of 15 seconds, told us not to like Pat McCrory because he opposed the minimum wage, because Charlotte elected officials got a pay raise, and because he opposed free community college tuition. The second ad reiterated the first two criticisms, then added in that he supported perks for politicians and accepted a free trip to Paris.
These ads are covering too much ground for any of the criticisms to stick with casual tv viewers, the kind of voters that the ads need to win over. Perhaps the biggest indication that the Alliance ads have been ineffective is that I had to go to youtube to watch them to even remember what they were about, even though I've seen them several times. No need to do that with the anti-Elizabeth Dole ads.
The first month of this ad campaign has fallen flat, so it's probably time for the Alliance to go back to the drawing board and head in a different direction for the next couple months. My suggestion would be to pick just one or maybe two more salient things to hit McCrory on than they have been, and then hammer that narrower message in with the voters over and over again. It's working for Kay Hagan and there's no reason it can't work for Bev Perdue too- but not without a change from the current direction.