Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Mass political campaigns on re-runs

More than once this week, we've been involved in a conversation with someone who says they just can't get interested in the Massachusetts Senate special election.

These are political people, mind you, people who are as nutty about following races as we are, people who'd rather watch the umpteenth political debate in a series than the regular primetime line-up.

Yeah, it's possible that we here in Massachusetts are just weather-beaten by the seemingly continuous string of Massachusetts political campaigns beginning with Scott Brown putting his hat in the ring against Martha Coakley for the Senate special back in 2010. Even Scott admitted to being weary of the constant campaign when he took a pass this time around.

But is it possible that it's not the continuous campaign season that is causing ennui, and rather it's that all of the campaigns (both sides) that have launched, and won, and lost in the past few years are starting to feel utterly the same?

The same Web site. The same online petition to collect e-mail addresses. The same head shot of the candidate on their Web site header that looks more like they're going for sainthood rather than a political seat. The same TV ads. The same palm cards. Even the same slogans seem to be repeating themselves, even across party lines. The tech-savvy stuff of three years ago almost seems archaic now. "Text XYZPZ" for updates, anyone? Calling for ethics investigations into something your opponent did is another favorite.

It's possible there are only so many ways to skin a cat. But in a state where practically everyone considers themselves a political junkie, isn't it strange that there isn't more innovation in political campaigning? Haven't we kind of seen it all at this point?

Take Ted Yoho, for example. He's a freshman Congressman from Florida who ran the ad below. Why don't we see stuff like this in Massachusetts? Wouldn't voters here eat this up?

In 2010, now Rep. Shaunna O'Connell's race got interesting with a creative mailer that opened to an actual recording of her opponent during a floor speech saying some pretty nasty stuff about children testifying on court. It worked brilliantly, and Shaunna was able to oust a long-time incumbent from his seat. It was creative, and it also made a very good point about why it was time for new blood in that district.

Is it that Massachusetts, while almost completely liberal, is also still entirely traditional and candidates are afraid to shock the senses with out-of-the-box methods? Maybe it should come as no surprise that the new political thriller, "House of Cards," is so popular, and that Netflix is also featuring re-runs of "The West Wing." People like political drama, they just don't find it in actual politics these days.

Are we the only ones who feel this way? If you agree, what would you like to see in some of these races?

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