A New Issue in the Presidential Race: Anna Wintour

A New Issue in the Presidential Race: Anna Wintour

The general election has begun! And so has the onslaught of campaign ads. Which ones succeed? Which fail? In Ad Watch, we review them as they come out. Today: President Obama and the Republican National Committee debate: Is Anna Wintour a silly person? (Yes.) Obama attacks Mitt Romney's record as Massachusetts governor, and Karl Rove's Super PAC complains Obama is being too mean too early.

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The Ad: Barack Obama, "Don't Be Late"

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The Issues: Vogue editor Anna Wintour urges Obama supporters to enter a contest to attend an Obama fundraiser with Sarah Jessica Parker.

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The Message: Obama is fighting for women, so women should give money to his campaign.

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Who'll See It: The ad is meant for Obama fans, but lots of conservatives will see it too, because Wintour's fancy accent is ripe for mockery (She refers to the First Lady as "Mee-shell Obama.") So is the stock footage of New York taxi cabs and music that seems stolen from some fashion reality show. YouTube notes, for example, that this video is "As Seen On: The Weekly Standard."


Who It's For: The kids who donated to Obama's campaign in 2008 and don't think Obama's cool anymore. BuzzFeed's Ben Smith and Rebecca Elliot report that almost 90 percent of the people who gave Obama $200 or more four years ago haven't donated this time.

What Everyone Else Thinks: "Who is Anna Wintour?" "That Devil Wears Prada lady." "Oh. I love Meryl Streep."

The Effect: The Obama campaign looks silly. D

The Ad: Republican National Committee, "Meanwhile"

The Issues: Obama is doing silly fancy celebrity things while the unemployment rate ticks up.

The Message: The ad plays the Wintour ad above with bad economic statistics underneath. Wintour's pitch was released the same day as a disappointing jobs report. Oops.

Who'll See It: This is a web-only video, so it won't assault grandmas in Florida during Jeopardy!. But it's funny enough that it might be the rare political video that actually gets shared by the youths on Facebook.

Who It's For: Young folks disenchanted by Obama -- especially those who just graduated and have no job.

What Everyone Else Thinks: "Who is Anna Wintour?" "That Devil Wears Prada lady." "Oh. I love Meryl Streep."

The Effect: It's a pretty good skewering of a very skewerable person. A

The Ad: American Crossroads, "Fear"

The Issues: This is a negative ad about Obama's negative ads.

The Message: Obama campaigned on change, but he's running like any other politician. The video shows clips of journalists saying Obama began his negative attacks on Mitt Romney early, and argues they're not just mean but inaccurate. Newark Mayor Cory Booker makes his second appearance in a Republican campaign ad.

Who'll See It: This video is web-only, so those who see it will be the people who seek it out.

Who It's For: This ad is meant to encourage reporters to write about how mean and unfair Obama's campaign is.

What Everyone Else Thinks: If they live in a swing state -- where the candidates have dropped a combined $87 million in TV ads, according to the Associated Press -- voters probably have the same reaction as this Wisconsin woman, who told Politico, "I don’t even want to watch TV anymore."

The Effect: Early-onset campaign fatigue. C

The Ad: Barack Obama, "We've Heard It All Before"

The Issues: Romney's job record as Massachusetts governor.

The Message: 10 years ago, Romney ran for Massachusetts governor with the same message he's using in his presidential campaign: That he knows how to create jobs. But under Romney, Massachusetts was 47th in job creation and lost 40,000 manufacturing jobs. "It didn't work then, and it won't work now."

Who'll See It: TV viewers in nine swing states. 

Who It's For: Swing voters who think Romney has better ideas for fixing the economy. Polls have been mixed on how big a portion of voters that is. A May 7 Gallup poll found Romney with an 8-point advantage among registered voters in swing states on the question of who would be good at fixing the economy, while an April 20 NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll found Romney had a 6-point advantage on the issue nationally. On the other hand, a Washington Post/ ABC News poll found Romney and Obama tied on the issue May 22.

What Everyone Else Thinks: Romney's spokeswoman Andrea Saul notes that Massachusetts had a 4.7 percent unemployment rate under Romney. The national jobless rate is 8.2 percent today.

The Effect: Obama's campaign has been arguing that Romney's career at Bain Capitol created few jobs and destroyed more, leading to complaints from Democratic donors in the financial industry that their noble profession was being demonized. Even Bill Clinton tried to smooth things over by saying Romney had done a fine job in private equity. Arguing Romney wasn't able to translate his business career into a job-growing political seems less likely to hurt Wall Street's feelings. B