Saturday, October 17, 2009

The NRA Ad: What do Republicans Have Against New York?

Over the last few weeks, I've been noticing a perplexing ad from the NRA. You've all seen or at least heard about it by now. For some reason, the group feels it necessary to portray a stereotypical New York mobster endorsing Bob McDonnell's campaign.

Aside from the fact that it's an insult to New Yorkers as well as Italians, I just don't see the point of this ad. I understand the argument that Mayor Bloomberg shouldn't have investigated Virginia gun stores in connection with his city's crime issues, but the ad doesn't even try to make that point or connect Creigh Deeds to the investigation. It's just slash-and-burn regionalism. "Send New York a message by voting Bob McDonnell for Governor"? Seriously?

It reminds me of a similar ad that ran last year during the Perriello campaign, when the Goode camp did its best to make Tom into an evil, litigious Yankee transplant--in spite of the fact that he was neither a practicing attorney nor a citizen of New York. The negativity ultimately backfired--I've heard many anecdotal accounts of votes flipping Tom's way because of Virgil's nastiness.

The GOP may reap some short-term gains by pitting states and regions against each other, but what are the consequences? In fairness, I know this was not a Republican ad per se, but there's no denying the NRA is a large part of their coalition. It seems reasonable to assume that plenty of voters won't make that distinction and the ad, no surprise, isn't playing well up north. If I were a Republican strategist looking to rebuild the party after 2008, I certainly wouldn't want to be alienating anyone, not even by proxy.

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