Between the two of them, Rick Scott and Charlie Crist and their respective allies have already spent over $50 million to sway voters’ attitudes — mostly through 30-second television ads that no Floridian is safe from viewing.
By some reports, their ad spending has amounted to nearly 100,000 commercials that have run throughout the state, and there are still three weeks before Election Day. The volume of ads will only increase until then.
Television viewers are no doubt sick of the spots, with most of them being negative, with ominous-sounding music, dark images, and claims of how bad the other guy is.
Despite the fact that voters say they don’t like all the negativity, campaigns from coast to coast “go negative” because it works. It works by suppressing the vote when those ads cause voters to say, “I’m so sick of the political ads, I’m not going to vote.”
The hope of the candidate who is airing the ad is that more of his opponent’s voters are going to take that view than his own voters will. The more frequently the negative ads run, the more impressions are made, and thus the more likely that will occur.
This also explains why the candidate with more money is more likely to win. Because more money means more ad impressions.
Yes, voter suppression is alive and well, and both parties do it. And, no, it has nothing to do with racial issues.
Of course, the ads we see are often misleading, sometimes they are flat-out lies, and every now and then they are even embarrassing — to the campaign that is running them (as was the case two times this year when Rick Scott’s campaign had to pull its own ads — one that featured a convicted fraudster, and another featuring a Tampa man with a conviction for human trafficking). Ouch!
But those mistakes happen, and can be forgiven.
What can’t be forgiven is when a campaign runs an ad making a completely false statement. Such as a Scott ad currently airing that says Charlie Crist is corrupt.
Now let me make one thing perfectly clear: I don’t like Charlie Crist.
Crist is a chameleon. He lacks real leadership skills. He’s an empty suit. He’s a self-serving political ladder. He lacks conviction. He wasn’t a good governor. He will take a position on something today and flip-flop on it tomorrow if it serves himself well. I won’t be voting for him for governor.
But one thing Charlie Crist is not, is corrupt. Corrupt people sit around thinking about how they’re going to scam people or game the system. Charlie Crist is not a schemer because his suit is so empty there aren’t any bad bones in his body.
Sure, Crist has had his share of corrupt supporters around him. Most of those being former campaign contributors, several of whom are convicted fraudsters now in prison.
And then there’s Jim Greer, Crist’s hand-picked former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. Greer served time in prison for fraud, money laundering and theft.
But Charlie probably had less knowledge about Greer’s shenanigans than the Republican leaders in the Legislature who more than likely knew, and approved, what he was doing.
And let’s not forget that Scott has had his share of questionable supporters around him, as well as his own personal issues with fraudulent behavior from when he was the CEO of a company that later paid a record fine in the largest healthcare fraud settlement in U.S. history.
So given his own issues, and with so many other things he could say about Charlie Crist that are true, why is Scott calling Crist corrupt?
Because Scott and his team know negative works. Let the truth be damned.
Chris Ingram is a political consultant, columnist and political analyst for Bay News 9. Follow him on Twitter @IrreverentView, or email him at: [email protected]