Republican avalanche of criminal commercials tightens Senate races in crucial battlegrounds


In the last weeks leading up to the midterm elections, MILWAUKEE Republicans have launched a torrent of attack ads that target Democrats on crime.
The tactic seems to be working in at least two states.

According to recent polls, the direction of the elections changed after GOP Senate candidates focused on crime in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Negative campaigning has persistently targeted Democratic Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes in Wisconsin, where she is running against Sen. Ron Johnson.

Attack Democrats on crime is a common theme, according to political science professor Charles Franklin, who also serves as the poll’s director at Marquette University Law School.

He said, “Homicide rates are growing in most urban centers, a pattern that encompasses Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh, so it’s an effective issue here and elsewhere.”

Despite the fact that Republicans have long used a playbook in which they accuse Democrats of not being tough enough on crime, pollsters like Franklin and strategists contacted by NBC News said the tactic appears especially successful this year given the nation’s rising crime rates and the increased voter concern about the subject. Republicans have been accused by some Democrats of intentionally misleading voters about their opponents by using scare tactics and racist dog whistles.

But the fact that the attacks are having an impact has also disturbed some Democrats. In interviews, a number of Wisconsin Democrats claimed that Barnes was aware of the impending assaults and expressed regret that the campaign hadn’t done enough to prevent the issue from defining the contest.

According to Tom Nelson, one of Barnes’ main rivals, it has been frustrating.

Barnes, who routinely outperformed Nelson and the other Democrats in the polls, gained ground when Nelson and two other Democrats withdrew from the campaign early. Given how much time and money we spent defeating Ron Johnson, it’s probably frustrating for the other candidates as well. We wouldn’t have bailed out if we didn’t share that set of ideals and the desire to defeat Ron Johnson.

Nelson’s fears were mirrored by another Wisconsin Democrat who begged to remain anonymous out of worry for political retaliation.

Why has finding a solution to this criminal messaging taken so long? stated the Democrat. Why does it seem like Ron Johnson had a month to pound away at Mandela without receiving a response?

hammered Barnes is frequently mentioned in pro-Johnson advertisements when discussing the subject of cash bail. They portray him as a dangerous Democrat who favors ending it and frequently bring up the driver of the car that plowed through a Christmas parade in Waukesha last year, killing six people and injuring dozens more. Despite being charged with domestic abuse days prior to the attack, the defendant, Darrell Brooks, was released after posting bail of $1,000, which has come under fire for being too little.

This week saw the start of the Brooks trial, which will likely keep the topic in the local news for some time.

These messages resonate because they are not only advertisements. Every time they turn on the TV, “voters” see the issue, according to a Wisconsin Republican strategist familiar with Johnson’s campaign tactics.

As a state Assembly member, Barnes sponsored legislation, which Johnsons’ commercials allege would have allowed criminals like Brooks to post dangerously low bail. Barnes stated in the Democratic primary that he supported abolishing cash bail. According to Barnes, his plan would have mandated that courts place offenders in jail if there was convincing proof that they posed a threat to the public. have said its mostly true that Barnes bill, an impartial fact-checking organization, would have prohibited Brooks’ release on bond. Cash bail is discriminatory, according to those who support bail reform, and many proposals to change it, including Barnes’s old one from years ago, focus on doing away with the system for nonviolent offences.

Another Republican ad asserts that Barnes supports the defund the police campaign, and have tied him points to the squad, a collection of progressive members in Congress, many of whom are supporters of the defund the police movement, while displaying an old photo of him holding up an Abolish ICE T-shirt. Early on in the primaries, the Barnes team made it clear that Barnes did not support either movement.

Another Milwaukee0 of Barnes claiming that incarcerating fewer people is now sexy comes before he asserts that his administration released hundreds of violent offenders on parole. Tim Michels, the Republican candidate for governor, is also using this false accusation against Gov. Tony Evers, one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents in the nation.

However, some of Barnes’ allies said that Johnson’s allies had used racial dog whistles to describe Barnes, a Black man, in advertisements and that they had distributed campaign mailers that gave the impression that his skin had become darker. That is a charge Milwaukee1.

The Service Employees International Union’s Calena Roberts, an activist in Milwaukee, claimed that the constant commercials concerning crime exploit Black communities for political benefit.

“Our state is really racist. There are folks in this area that thrive on the trash he spews, “Black Roberts, who spoke about Johnson, remarked. We must use caution, diligence, and the ability to push back.

She also bemoaned the fact that Republicans have gotten away with hurling insults while failing to forward their own crime-fighting strategies.

I’m curious in what he accomplished during his previous two terms and his current plans “Johnson, she said. “What steps would he take to reduce crime if he were to win?

Barnes has responded to the attacks with a number of statements (Milwaukee2Milwaukee3). Barnes Milwaukee4 says in one of them, “Lies about me made to terrify you.” Barnes Milwaukee5 and other Republicans, like other Democrats, are known for defending those responsible for the attack on the US Capitol on January 6. Barnes, though, has changed his strategy in recent days to criticize Johnson on the subject of abortion rights, a move that strategists claim is intended to appeal to the Democratic base. Targeting Johnson’s position on abortion access, Barnes last week started running in the Milwaukee6 of the campaign and began a Ron against Roe tour of the state.

The race is still close, according to Maddy McDaniel, a spokesperson for the Barnes campaign “despite the fact that Johnson and other organizations have spent millions on a “smear campaign.” In the third quarter, she said that the campaign had recently “equipped” itself with Milwaukee7 and was “taking the fight to Ron Johnson,” particularly due to his “dangerous” record on abortion.

Mehmet Oz, a Republican running for the Senate in Pennsylvania, has aggressively attacked Lt. Governor John Fetterman’s clemency efforts as part of his “soft on crime” campaign.

Oz and outside organizations supporting his campaign have produced a number of advertisements highlighting particular situations. Considering the increase in pardons and commutations since he assumed office in 2019, Fetterman controlled the state pardons board and was portrayed as being outside the political mainstream on criminal justice.

Polls in both states indicate that the plan is effective.

Through August, Barnes had been ahead of Johnson in several polls, with the Marquette Law School poll showing him with an Milwaukee8.

Johnson is in the lead currently though, following the Republican blitz of crime advertisements.

President Joe Biden won this state by less than 1% in 2020, but RealClearPolitics Milwaukee9 has Johnson leading by 3 percentage points. (The same polling pattern shows Philadelphia0, where Michels currently has a slim lead over Evers, despite the fact that Evers had maintained a polling advantage over him throughout the summer.)

In late September, a study by the polling organization Philadelphia1 revealed that 44% of Wisconsin voters were extremely or very concerned that Barnes’ beliefs were too radical. This figure was greater than the proportion of respondents who thought the same thing about Johnson. In particular, the percentage of voters who said they were extremely or very concerned about Barnes being too extreme increased by 14 percentage points from the Philadelphia2, indicating that the GOP’s strategy of portraying Barnes as being outside the political mainstream on issues like crime was successful.

According to Chris Pack, a Republican strategist who works on Senate races and formerly worked for Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund, the intellectually lazy argument that everything they don’t like should be abolished is the cause of the plummeting support Democrats are experiencing in competitive races across the country. That includes wishing to end assistance for law enforcement officials as well as the jail of offenders.

Pennsylvania’s contest for the Senate has likewise become much more competitive.

RealClearPolitics Philadelphia3 shows Fetterman up by just 4.3 percentage points in the state, inside most surveys’ margins of error, as opposed to polling from late summer that had him up by double digits.

Furthermore, according to a Suffolk/USA Today survey Philadelphia4, Fetterman’s negative rating increased from the organizations Philadelphia5 by 17 points, to 44%.

A spokesperson for Oz’s campaign, Barney Keller, claimed that the polling and the unbiased Cook Political Reports Philadelphia6, which changed the race’s leaning Democratic to toss-up, showed that the plan was effective.

Keller claimed that the advertisements have been very successful.
Like Barnes, Fetterman has retaliated against the attacks on crime, and in Philadelphia7, a county sheriff commends him on the subject.

Of preparation of Republican attempts later on to portray Fetterman as being soft on crime, the team actively touted him as a crime-fighting mayor in the Pittsburgh-area town of Braddock beginning during his primary, according to campaign spokesperson Joe Calvello.

Because of our excellent track record in this area, we weren’t going to wait around for Republicans to bring this up, Calvello added. He continued by saying that despite the assault, Fetterman was still in front in the polls.

He claimed that they bombarded us with everything they had. And we kept triumphing.
Republicans are simultaneously wagering that using crime message will benefit them in other competitive states as well.

Sens. Raphael Warnock and Maggie Hassan, the Democratic candidates for the Senate in Georgia and New Hampshire, have recently engaged Herschel Walker and Don Bolduc on the subject.

Both Republican nominee Christine Drazan and independent contender Betsy Johnson have attacked Democrat Tina Kotek on the state’s rising crime in the closely contested campaign for governor in Oregon. The campaign in the Democratic stronghold, which hasn’t elected a Republican governor in 40 years, has been classified by The Cook Political Report as a toss-up.

Rep. Val Demings, a Democrat from Florida, on the other hand, has heavily emphasized in her advertising against Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican, her experience as the former police chief of Orlando. Although Rubio retains an Philadelphia9 and the Cook Political Report maintains an Pittsburgh0, polls indicate that the race has been somewhat more competitive recently.

Lombardo has linked his crime messaging to concerns about school safety in the Nevada governor’s campaign, despite rising crime figures that state strategists warned may make the topic a weakness for the Republican nominee, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo.

According to strategists, the messaging has contributed to developing a unified theme on crime against a variety of candidates.
Republican strategist Brandon Scholz from Wisconsin said the onslaught of advertisements as “difficult.” They are having an impact.

However, Alex Lasry, who withdrew from the Wisconsin Democratic primary contest to support Barnes, said that even while the Wisconsin race is inside the margin of error in most polls, Democrats in his state are still concerned.

Anyone who is furious that there is a tie in the contest, “said Lasry. “Calm down the F, and let’s win.”
Henry J. Gomez and Natasha Korecki both reported from Wisconsin, while Adam Edelman did so from New York.