Political advertisements are only worth the money if they reinforce a candidate’s message. Here are five recent ads, what they set out to achieve, and how well they did. — NOAH GUINEY
Charlie Baker: ‘Delivers’
The goal: Making Baker likable — to Democrats and independents
The method: Being as upbeat as a 30-second ad will let you
Score: B. This ad is aimed squarely at Steve Grossman voters — people who didn’t vote for Martha Coakley in the Democratic primary and might consider crossing party lines in the general. Baker wins over scores of Democrats with his social liberalism, his no-nonsense approach to fixing state government, and his association with former governor Bill Weld, who might still be state Democrats’ favorite Republican. Also, he high-fives a little girl. His relative liberalism feels more authentic than his efforts to look approachable.
Martha Coakley: ‘Edward’
The goal: Show Martha Coakley’s human side
The method: Discussing her brother’s struggle with mental illness and eventual suicide
Score: A. Coakley has struggled to show voters she’s more than a “cold prosecutor,” and this ad does just that. She talks openly about the suicide of her brother Edward, and then about how the experience helps her to connect emotionally with voters — many of whom might have direct experience with mental illness. She closes with a pledge to improve mental health care in the Commonwealth. She comes across as stoic, in that Coakley way, but driven by a passion that voters don’t always see.
Seth Moulton: ‘Fight’
The goal: Introduce Marine-turned-politician Seth Moulton
The method: Compare the extremists in Iraq to the “radicals” in Washington
Score: B. After besting incumbent John Tierney in the Sixth Congressional District Democratic primary, Moulton is introducing himself to general election voters by playing up his four tours in Iraq, though noting that he didn’t support the war. He also promises to fight the “radicals who threaten to shut down our government” — which, of course, is code for “Tea Party.” Tierney was able to smear Republican Richard Tisei with the Tea Party label two years ago. Will that tactic help a candidate who’s still an unknown?
Jeanne Shaheen: ‘Makes a Difference’
The goal: Show voters that Shaheen isn’t just a creature of Washington
The method: Offer examples of projects that needed Shaheen’s intervention
Score: A-. Scott Brown has been arguing that Shaheen, the Democratic senator from New Hampshire, hasn’t done much lately for the people of her home state. So Shaheen enlists actual New Hampshire residents to describe some concrete projects that needed her intervention to survive, such as reopening the federal prison in Berlin and widening I-93. The ad includes a powerful, if implicit, critique: What has Brown, who only recently moved to New Hampshire, actually done for the people of the Granite State?
Scott Brown: ‘Keep America Safe’
The goal: Make Brown look better on foreign policy
The method: Paint Shaheen as President Obama’s buddy
Score: B-. Brown shows off both his pickup truck and his military fatigues here, touting his National Guard experience as evidence that he knows how to protect the nation. And of course, there’s the obligatory picture of Shaheen next to Obama, whose foreign policy stumbles have helped make him toxic for Democratic candidates nationwide. The ad also repeats Brown’s attack on Shaheen for missing a Senate hearing at which ISIS was discussed — though it’s unclear how Obama is to blame for that one.