David Helpap Analyzes Governor's Race Ads

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David Helpap Analyzes Governor's Race Ads

Premiere Date: 
March 7, 2014

The UW-Green Bay political scientist discusses the ads that both campaigns have put out.

 

Episode Transcript: 

Frederica Freyberg:

Stand by for the total onslaught of campaign commercials on the airwaves. This week Democratic candidate for governor, Mary Burke, had her first ad on TV.  The Republican Governors Association has already put two ads for Scott Walker in rotation and his campaign went up with another today. We picked the brain of a political analyst on the first of the Walker ads two weeks ago. Tonight, we turn to UW-Green Bay political scientist, David Helpap, to look at the Burke ad. Professor, thanks very much for being here.

David Helpap:

Thank you for having me.

Frederica Freyberg:

Well, let's go right ahead and look at that Mary Burke ad together right now.

Announcer:

Mary Burke. Today 930 people work at Trek, the great Wisconsin company she helped build. And when she was commerce secretary, there were 72,000 more jobs than today. So why is Scott Walker's RGA spending a million dollars attacking her? Under Walker, unemployment is up, job prospects are down, 45th in the nation, and lay-offs continue. There's a better way. A strong economy starts with a strong middle class, and that's what Mary Burke's working on every day.

Frederica Freyberg:

Well, the Republican party, predictably, rejects this ad as misleading and then just today the governor released his own ad refuting it. It's early, and it's already kind of hard to keep up. But as Burke's ad is kind of a hybrid, it seems. It starts out kind of warm and fuzzy, and then goes really negative in a hurry. What was your reaction to it?

David Helpap:

Well, I think this is something that she had to do. First of all, she has to really get her name out there to the voters in Wisconsin, and that's, like you mentioned, something she does early in the ad. So she says who she is, she says a little bit about her history, her experience in politics. But then I think in response to the ads that the Governor's Association has put out, she had to respond to that. And I think that's why you see this kind of hybrid situation with this ad. So I wouldn't be surprised if you saw some additional ads that really start to get her name out there further. But it's going to be pretty negative, I think.

Frederica Freyberg:

How successfully has Scott Walker and his supporters been able to define Mary Burke before she got the chance to define Mary Burke?  

David Helpap:

Well, I think with the two initial ads very early in the season, this is exactly what they were trying to do. So given that she has not had a very high profile in state or national government, I think that it's at least a start for them to define her. So now it's going to be on her to try and redefine herself away from what they've already put out there.

Frederica Freyberg:

But, again, they kind of put her in a tough spot because ordinarily you'd want to come out, you'd want to say this is who I am and this is what I stand for and have that, again, warm and fuzzy thing. And now she has to kind of have her dukes up at the same time that she's trying to be friendly in the voters of the state.

David Helpap:

Yeah, absolutely. Because of the situation she's in, like you mentioned, she has to put herself out there, tell the voters who she is, get her name recognition up significantly, but at the same time respond to a lot of the ads that the governor and his supporters are putting out there. So it is going to be a tough spot for her already.

Frederica Freyberg:

Does this strike you as early for this many TV ads to be on the air, and then what do these kind of early attacks bode for what might be to come?  

David Helpap:

Yeah, I do find it to be pretty early. And the situation I don't think will get any better. The governor most definitely has a lot of resources. He has a lot of people in his corner that want to see him re-elected. And the challenger, Mary Burke, is going to have to respond. So the governor has kind of set the pace and she's going to have to keep up to get her message out, and then to respond to any of the ads that are going to be put out there against her.

Frederica Freyberg:

What voters does Scott Walker need to win re-election? Although, many people think it's a foregone conclusion. But then also who's important to Mary Burke as a voter?

David Helpap:

Well, clearly both candidates have to be able to mobilize their base. So the governor is going to have to be able to get the Republicans in the state and the individuals in the state who lean Republican, and probably some of the moderate independent voters. Mary Burke, for her part, she is most definitely going to have to mobilize her base. A fully unified Democratic party behind her is what's needed. And then she is going to have to hit independent, middle class voters really hard. And she's going to have to get a lot of those away from the governor.

Frederica Freyberg:

What are the other factors that are at play in the governor's race, like the economy?  

David Helpap:

Well, the economy absolutely is going to be a factor. You see that in the campaign ads right now. Every campaign ad that's been run has talked about jobs, it's talked about the state economy and where we're going. So depending upon how the economy performs, I think that's going to be a significant factor in this race. If it starts to decline again, that's going to be a problem for the governor. If it starts-- or if it continues to get better, that's probably going to be an advantage for the governor.

Frederica Freyberg:

Absolutely. All right, well, David Helpap, thanks very much for helping us out on this.  

David Helpap:

Thank you for having me.   


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