A few weeks ago, it was reported that John McCain would match Barack Obama's $5 million ad buy during the Olympics with a $6 million campaign of his own. Surely McCain wouldn't be dumb enough to sour the uplifting national mood fostered by the Olympics by running a fear-mongering attack ad, right? Wrong.
Here's Obama's positive ad about the direction in which he wants to take America:
And here's McCain's:
Which do you find more effective?
I've seen these ads at least five times each over the past few days. Putting myself in the shoes of your average voter, McCain's ad (by the second viewing or so) comes across as overly offensive and divisive while trying to drive home the exact same point. Obama's positive message is "I want to take the energy policy of this country in a different direction." McCain's negative message is "Obama is a celebrity who can't be trusted to take energy policy in a new direction, which is what I want to do by proposing the same policies as Obama." The McCain campaign must have internals numbers showing the "celebrity" meme gaining some traction. It's going to be interesting to see if McCain's decision to go negative backfires. To rational, level-headed undecideds, it just might.