MyDD Accountability Adwatch: Darcy Burner

The first Burner ad didn't have a good narrative arc, being largely a recitation of her biography.  This second one is much better, harder-edged, and takes on Reichert on the war in Iraq.  It follows the MyDD candidate memo recommendations.

She picks a fight over veterans care, emphasizes her opponent's ties to Bush, and frames her argument in progressive language, starting sharply that sacrifice for the country means that "you will be taken care of." This is a good ad from a netroots candidate who clearly listens to feedback.  

Ok, the adwatch over, I want to talk about Darcy Burner and why I think she's an important candidate.  I went to a fundraiser of a top-tier Democratic female candidate, and this candidate gave the same stale recitation of a Democratic agenda that could have been ripped out of the 1990s playbook.  The reason this person got the nomination is because she's been raising money for Democrats for ten years and is a good loyal Democrat.  Unfortunately, inn sitting on the fundraising-power circuit for so long, this candidate had become somewhat bland and unable to get a sense of the important issues at stake in this election.  If you've been planning your run for Congress for 10 years, that means you got into politics in 1996, and people who came into politics at that time and on the fundraising circuit don't necessarily have progressive interests at heart.  You might want to be progressive, but you probably don't think that grassroots organizing can sustain a political base.  For these people, the natural governing coalition is center-right, and though that can be changed, that's where they start from.

Darcy's not like that, she's a newcomer to electoral politics, a post-9/11 Democrat who gets what's going on in this country.  She's also incredibly smart, and one of the most exciting candidates this cycle.  Now, to be clear, the other candidate is running a good campaign and is a good Democrat, and I hope she wins.  I respect the work she did for ten years, and she deserves a shot and the support of the party establishment (which she's getting).  But there's a structural turnover going on, and the blogs are on the progressive side of that, since many of us came to electoral politics post-9/11.  In some fundamental way, the timing of when someone came into electoral politics explains a lot more about how one sees the route to change.  That's probably why the new progressive movement is so powerful on one hand and naive on the other.  In these last six weeks, we're going to pull together and work together with the party establishment, and hopefully we can keep moving the party towards the center of the country.

Tags: Adwatch, Darcy Burner (all tags)



Re: MyDD Accountability Adwatch: Darcy Burner

I don't know if it has as much to with whether or not a person became involved in politics post-9/11 as compared with the way they responded to the post 9/11 political climate and the Bush administration's "road to tyranny," as the right-wing libertarian Alex Jones calls it (probably the one major area in which right-wing libertarians and left-wing progressives agree fully).

Although I was young, 1996 is actually the year I became involved in politics. I know people who became involved in 1976 who are very much on our side, for that matter. If you're speaking specifically about liberal blog pioneers however, I guess that point holds up quite a bit better (at least from what I know of the subject).

Otherwise, I like your analysis - Darcy is awesome.

by surfbird007 2006-09-25 10:27AM | 0 recs
side question

Who did the polling to suggest that "[Republican X] did [some bad thing], but still accepted a pay raise" was working with voters?  I'm seeing it across the country.

by Adam B 2006-09-25 10:29AM | 0 recs
Bernie Sanders and Dennis Kucinich...

...have been in politics for a long time.

A long involvment in politics doesn't mean blandness.

by EricJaffa 2006-09-25 10:43AM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Accountability Adwatch: Darcy Burner

The pay-raise thing is playing in Casey's ads against Santorum as well.

by Illustrious 2006-09-25 11:18AM | 0 recs
Burner needs money!

Great ad analysis, Matt!  Glad to see you share the enthusiasm of us in the WA-08 for our candidate!

But the truth is, Darcy needs money, and she needs it now.

I'm doing my part.  I hosted a fund-raiser for her on Saturday where she told the crowd that she has to raise about $700,000 between now and election day.  You do the math, that's about 20 grand per day.  I'm doing my part, and now I'm going to call on you all to help out too.

It's no secret that this is one of those must-win districts.  Every piece of data--anecdotal data from people knocking on doors and talking to voters, to internal polling data--confirms that Darcy's message is really resonating with voters in the 8th district.  All that stands between Darcy and victory is the money necessary to get that message out.

So please.  Donate.

by jasonbl 2006-09-25 11:21AM | 0 recs
Ad much better, but...

She keeps to one topic, there aren't a thousand works of upper case text flashing before one's eyes, the topic (the regime's crappy treatment of the military) is not too difficult to get across.

But - voicing a 30 second script and doing a lot of it on camera like that - and making it count - is, I think, technically pretty difficult. (I bet a lot of movie actors would come off as wooden playing Darcy's role in the spot.) She's not bad, but I think she could use some coaching. (I'm no expert, but I've watched a bit of TV in my time!)

Content-wise, heading up the spot with the reference to her father, husband and brother having been in the military comes across as kind of weak: shades of the Little Woman waving her menfolk off to war to the strains of Keep the Home Fires Burning. Basking in the reflected glory of said menfolk's service.

And the way she tags Reichert sounds off too: the vote to cut vets' health care is a great point, but the linkage with the Congressional pay raise comes over as false. The idea that reps's pay should be related to the ideological content of their votes sounds like verging on corruption!

Why not pick out another bad Reichert vote affecting the military (there must be one!)?

I'm not too keen on the flag, but I suppose that's de rigueur; does it work having the right side of Darcy's face in shadow plus the black/dark brown jacket and top?

Does she have to look so gloomy throughout? I'm not suggesting she be grinning or even smiling, necessarily, but the feel is distinctly funereal. Does that impede her message?

The jump-cut at the end is very clumsily done; and the middle section is out of synch (though that just be the lousy copy uploaded to Youtube - or my own clapped out machine!)

Overall, good progress: hopefully, her next (last?) ad will show her relaxed, smiling and upbeat, though...

by skeptic06 2006-09-25 11:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Ad much better, but...

Content-wise, heading up the spot with the reference to her father, husband and brother having been in the military comes across as kind of weak: shades of the Little Woman waving her menfolk off to war to the strains of Keep the Home Fires Burning. Basking in the reflected glory of said menfolk's service.


That's not my read at all. I think it will resonate more strongly and positively with women than your remark suggests. I understand that you feel it's leaning on a corny trope from days gone by. But the truth of the matter is women are more often the wives, daughters and sisters of soldiers than they are the soldiers themselves, and are more likely to heft the burden of caring for injured vets long after the war is over. Caring for our own is a very powerful message that is only enhanced by her personal relationships. She makes the issure personal to her and personal to the voters.

by geejay 2006-09-25 12:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Ad much better, but...

In retrospect, I suspect you're right that they were particularly targetting women voters.

I wonder, though: what if Darcy were a guy? Would people, even women, feel quite the same way about the references to father, husband and brother?

The danger I'd be slightly worried about would be Darcy trying too hard to compensate for being a woman talking about a historically generally masculine area.

A bit like some Dems feeling they need to be extra strident on defense matters to overcome a the weak on national security tag.

(Just to be clear - I don't think this ad falls into the trap.)

I do wonder whether anyone has dared to raise the question that occurred to me: what her domestic arrangements will be if she wins? Will her husband look after their son in the marital home in Washington, or will they set up home in DC?

by skeptic06 2006-09-25 12:27PM | 0 recs
WA-08 demographics

Darcy has excellent reasons for targetting women in the WA-08 district: evidence from the '04 election shows that Reichert won on the strength of his "I was a cop, i'll keep you safe" message, which appealed to swing-voting suburban moms.  The district as a whole voted in a weird, party-split way: voting (D) for president and governor, but (R) for representative.  Basically, Reichert's tough-guy message got some otherwise Dem women--most of them typical "soccer mom" types--to vote (R) when the rest of their ballot was marked (D).

The fact that Darcy is herself a "soccer mom" type (although her son is as-yet too young for soccer), is a huge asset for her in this district.  The fact that, in so many ways, Reichert has totally reneged on his promises to those women should also play very strongly with that handful of voters who put Reichert in place two years ago.

The fact is, if Darcy were a guy she probably couldn't win.  It's silly, but true: a male opponent would essentially have to "out tough-guy" Mr. Reichert, which is pretty hard to do when Reichert used to be a copy, was county sherrif, and can hang "I caught the green-river serial killer" ribbons on himself.  For a male challenger, issues of personality and machismo would swamp any real discussion over policy or direction.

Darcy's woman-hood, for better or worse, whether it's fair or not, is a huge asset in this race.

by jasonbl 2006-09-25 04:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Ad much better, but...

WA-08 is a district with a lot of military families struggling to deal overseas deployment.  It is also a district where women vote in statistically greater numbers than men.  If Darcy can knock a few points of Reichert's standing with women -- especially in hte southern part of the district -- she likely wins.

Furthermore, it should be mentioned that while whe never enlisted, Darcy was one of the youngest members ever of the Civil Air Patrol, and its cadet of the year in 1989.

What I like best about this ad is the way it powerfully reminds voters of the Iraq war, without specifically discussing withdrawal (something I'm guessing she'll do in later ads.)  And her performance is great.  I'll take a candidate speaking directly to viewers any day of the week.

by Goldy 2006-09-25 12:41PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Accountability Adwatch: Darcy Burner

Matt, you need to know that it was in her plans all along to escalate the tone in the ads with each succeeding spot.

In other words, she might be, but is not necessarily, responding to your criticism of her first ad. My sense is that she anticipated it from the very beginning.

My source for this is the candidate herself.

by ivan 2006-09-25 12:21PM | 0 recs
Re: MyDD Accountability Adwatch: Darcy Burner

I know that.  I didn't say she's doing this because of our advice, just that her strategy correlates well with the advice we've given.

by Matt Stoller 2006-09-25 12:29PM | 0 recs
Have you had enough?

Check out the companion video - "Have You Had Enough? Then it's time to throw the rascals out!" rA&mode=related&search=

by MS 2006-09-25 01:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Have you had enough?

Oh, that is totally awesome!  Thanks!

by jasonbl 2006-09-25 04:11PM | 0 recs
Only one problem with the ad to me

She doesn't say that she's a Democrat. Was there something before about this district that made it a smarter move to not stand strongly as a proud Democrat?

by Callandor 2006-09-25 02:53PM | 0 recs


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