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Kansas away from battlegrounds

Negative ad wars are being fought elsewhere

By The Mercury

On more than one occasion, we’ve lamented the fact that Kansas’ political redness has removed it from the itineraries of the presidential candidates.

President Barack Obama recognizes the futility of spending time or money campaigning in Kansas, though it might help some Democrats running for state and local offices. As for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, he hasn’t needed to worry about Kansas. His triumph in this state has long been a foregone conclusion.

But being a political footnote this year isn’t entirely without its advantages. Not only are the presidential candidates bypassing us, but so is much of the mud that’s been splashed via televisions and mailboxes into the homes of millions of voters in the so-called battleground states.

Folks who remember how ugly the Republican state Senate campaign in the 22nd District was might welcome the relative calm. Last summer, one smear after another showed up in mailboxes from political action committees and even super PACs. To their credit, the candidates generally behaved themselves and even apologized for the distortions spread on their behalf by organizations over which they have little control and whose donors often aren’t disclosed.

According to the U.S. Postal Service, during the mid-term elections two years ago, campaigns and PACS sent 1.8 billion pieces of mail to voters, generating $338 million for the Postal Service. The Postal Service expects to vastly exceed those numbers this campaign; some super PACs have been spending $1 million a week in direct mail in contested states. Restore Our Future, Crossroads GPS and Citizens Awareness Project Inc., are some of the big spenders for Mr. Romney. Familiar names in the president’s lineup include People for the American Way, the AFL-CIO and NARAL-Pro Choice America. Some of these groups on both sides have enough money to send multiple identical mailers to the same address on the same day. It’s enough to make voters wish burning trash hadn’t been outlawed.

Similarly ubiquitous in battleground states are TV ads — on giant screens, in high-def, and mostly negative. Though we haven’t entirely escaped those, we’re not in the line of fire that voters in Ohio, Virginia, Colorado and other states are. We suspect that mute buttons on remote control devices are getting quite the workout in battleground states.

No wonder so many Americans who looked forward to the election for so long now can’t wait until it’s over.

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