Unforeseen Opportunity in an Election
You are in charge of the advertising staff for Cindy Smith’s election campaign. Cindy is trying to prevent the eight term incumbent, Jesse Jones, from getting another term in the U. S. House of Representatives. Cindy decided to run against Jesse because he wrote 150 bad checks in the House banking scandal, voted to not disclose the names of the people involved in the scandal, and voted to give himself a substantial pay raise at taxpayers’ expense.
Furthermore, Jesse seems unconcerned with the debt crisis and has been criticized by the national press for funding questionable projects in his district at the expense of more worthy projects elsewhere in the nation. Moreover, Jesse has worked behind the scenes to prevent the Equal Rights Amendment from passing in your state, and as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, has consistently voted against allowing women to fight in combat. Jesse is also a pro¬life candidate who supported Clarence Thomas as a Supreme Court nominee.
Cindy has never run for political office before, and is running a grassroots campaign with only unpaid volunteers. She believes it is time for a change in Washington, and Jesse Jones is a prime example of why the people in your district have become cynical about politicians. Because she has not accepted any political action committee money, Cindy has only been able to afford a few television ads and has instead concentrated her efforts on radio and newspaper advertising.
These ads have not provided Cindy’s specific views on what she plans to do about taxes, education, unemployment, social security, the debt, or defense spending, but instead have focused on her prochoice and pro women views and her beliefs about the need for a change in Washington. She has so far avoided even mentioning her opponent in these ads. Up until last week, Cindy was riding the wave of disenchantment with incumbents and was leading Jesse Jones by 10 percentage points.
However, in last week’s debates Jesse Jones did a good job of pointing out Cindy’s lack of political savvy and came across as a patronizing father figure who understood Cindy’s frustrations with government but subtly stated Cindy did not possess the knowledge to make things happen in the federal government. These debates helped to pull the race to a dead heat, and the election is one month away. Jesse Jones has accepted a number of contributions from political action committees and has a sizable campaign chest.
His initial television ads depicted him as a family man of strong moral character and an experienced incumbent who could get the job done. These ads had proven to be fairly ineffective, and Jones has now switched to negative campaigning. Jesse’s ads now state he is a pillar of family values and Cindy is a single mother of two who has been unable to form or maintain a cohesive family unit. These ads also focus on Cindy’s views of unrestricted abortions, implying that electing Cindy will effectively murder 2,000 people a year in the district.
These ads conclude by stating if Cindy can not get her own house in order, how will she ever be able to straighten out the House of Representatives? Unfortunately, these ads have been very effective. Cindy’s negative ratings are at an all time high, and you believe Cindy’s campaign has lost the momentum and will lose the race unless she does something to counter these negative ads. Including yourself, there are four full time volunteers on Cindy’s advertising staff.
Megan is a journalism major in college and became involved with the campaign because of Jesse’s views on the Clarence Thomas appointment. Megan has never worked on a political campaign before, and has taken this quarter off from school to lend a hand. Megan is enthusiastic, hard working, and idealistic, but she has little campaign experience. Nancy is a good friend of Cindy’s and worked on the last campaign to oust Jesse Jones. She has also lent a hand in several school board and state representative campaigns.
Nancy is very committed to Cindy’s campaign, although you suspect this devotion is due as much to ousting Jesse Jones as it is to her friendship with Cindy. Jack is the president of the student body of the local college. He has been politically active for the past three years, and two years ago he worked on a U. S. Senator’s reelection campaign. Everyone on the advertising staff was enthusiastic and energetic after Cindy’s success in the primary, but this enthusiasm has dampened considerably with the post debate poll results and with Jesse Jones’ elentless attacks on Cindy’s character. Everyone has said the election is slipping away, and Megan and Jack have threatened to quit and go back to school unless Cindy does something to turn the situation around. The cohesiveness of the group and your relationships with Megan, Nancy, and Jack are currently at an all time low. The campaign manager, Jenny O’Connor, called you into her office today. Apparently an anonymous tipster told someone on the campaign staff that Jesse Jones was having an affair and had fathered a child out of wedlock.
Someone on the staff followed up on the tip and has uncovered evidence lending support to this allegation. Jenny believes a negative ad depicting Jesse Jones as a corrupt father and politician would be enough to get Cindy elected. Although Cindy has publicly stated she will not run negative ads in her campaign, Jenny has asked you to take a day to think about running one on Jesse Jones. Jenny has also asked you not to discuss this matter with Cindy. What will you do?