The Week In Conservative Attack Ads

This week, conservatives flooded the airwaves with attacks on Democratic candidates. We fact-checked a total of 21 new ads, exceeding our total from the previous three weeks combined. The increase in volume was marked by 11 spots targeting House candidates, signaling a heightened focus on lower-level races as we approach the final stretch of campaign season.

New Players, Same Money?

Karl Rove’s groups were active as usual – American Crossroads launched a misleading attack on President Obama and Crossroads GPS targeted three Senate hopefuls – but they let some of their allies lead the charge this week.

The House ads we fact-checked included five from the Center for Individual Freedom, three from the American Action Network (along with one from the AAN-affiliated Congressional Leadership Fund), and two from the National Federation of Independent Business. Notably, Crossroads GPS made sizable “social welfare” contributions to both CFIF ($2.75 million) and NFIB ($3.7 million) in 2010 – and CFIF spent just slightly less than its haul, $2.5 million, on political ads. Crossroads GPS also gave $500,000 to AAN, which in turn gave approximately the same amount ($499,895) to American Crossroads.

On the Senate side, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce went after five candidates, heavily emphasizing their alleged failures on energy policy. Wisconsin’s Tammy Baldwin was the only candidate subjected to attacks from both Crossroads GPS and the Chamber.

Where Are The Jobs?

While there were plenty of dishonest claims about Medicare, energy policy, and taxes, one subject was conspicuously absent in many of this week’s ads: the economy. Indeed, the word “job” showed up in just eight of 21 ads, typically in the context of specific policy gripes rather than grim representations of the overall economic climate. After the creation of 4.6 million jobs over 30 consecutive months of private-sector growth, perhaps conservatives are realizing that their efforts to assign blame for the consequences of the Great Recession aren’t fooling anyone.