Attack ads on Murray may have had effect



Posted on July 23, 2010 at 7:02 PM

One week after a barrage of attack ads, Senator Patty Murray is responding with her own positive commercials.

A new KING 5 poll finds her approval ratings have taken a hit and the senator is trying to fight back.

It's a sure sign the campaign season has begun.

A conservative group out of Washington, D.C. spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a one-week ad blitz against Murray.

It was hard to miss those commercials and now, our KING 5 poll indicates they may have had an effect.

If you watched any television at all, you saw the attack ad portraying Senator Murray's shoes walking on the backs of kids.

"The strategy is, and again, this is not a bad strategy, let's go after her branding. Right off the bat, let's soften up the branding, that's her branding," said Democratic consultant Ron Dotsauer.

"Tennis shoes?"

"The tennis shoes. So let's attack it immediately," said Dotsauer.

Did it work?

In our last KING 5 tracking poll in June 49 percent of statewide residents polled told SurveyUSA they approve of Murray's job performance, 44 percent disapproved.

In our poll this week, her approval rating dropped dramatically into the negative – 41 percent approve and now, 54 percent disapprove.

"It drove up her negatives, and theoretically it made the race more competitive."

"So negative ads work."

"Bottom line: They always have."

"People hate them."

"They say they do, they say they do, but they listen."

The ads came from a conservative group called The American Action Network, which claims on its website that Murray has been bad for business. Among its reasons: Murray voted for health care reform and supported increasing the minimum wage. She opposed limiting attorney fees in lawsuits and opposed a bill that would allow employees to work in a union shop without paying union dues.

Murray makes no apologies for any of those votes. Her campaign responded quickly to the attacks by putting up a positive commercial of veterans praising the Democratic senator.

Murray does have the money to fight back: $6.8 million cash on hand - more than any opponents including Republican Dino Rossi at $1.3 million.

According to, a third of her contributions are from out-of-state. Her top contributors are connected to Act Blue, a Democratic political action committee, Microsoft, Boeing and Weyerhaeuser.

Ron Dotsauer predicts Murray now has to spend money to keep her commercials on air through the November election.

"You can't afford to lower your guard an inch because you're going to take a jab shot to the chin," he said.
If it seems a bit early for political ads, you're right.

You can blame it on our early August primary. The primary election used to be in September, but moving up the primary means we're starting to see these commercials earlier - in July.