Grading political ads on TV

Grading political ads on TV »Play Video
Independent voter Nan Coppock-Bland really liked the Steve Novick game show parody of "To Tell The Truth."
EUGENE, Ore. -- Four weeks after the Pennsylvania, it will be Oregon's turn. The Oregon Primary is May 20. Mail-in ballots will be sent to you soon, and candidates want to make sure you don't miss their message. But are the messages getting through? Thirty seconds. That's all the time a candidate has to get the message out. As the airwaves are inundated with spots the next four weeks, will the messages get muddled -- and which ones will stand out? "We can't afford politics as usual," says U.S. Senate candidate Steve Novick, as he opens a beer for a bar patron using his prosthetic arm. It's a clip from one of his television ads this spring. It could also be a metaphor for all candidates trying to reach voters with effective commercials. The blitz of TV ads for national, state and local candidates is just beginning. A poll from four years ago from the Advertising Age publication showed 92 percent of responders said the ads didn't sway them to change their votes. One local expert doesn't believe the poll. Professor David Kornada at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communications said the commercials have an impact. "There's other research that indicates it works and again that's the implicit knowledge, that it sticks there in the back of the brain and helps people decide," Kornada said. So we grabbed a laptop and went to that hotbed of political talk -- the Supreme Bean coffee house in South Eugene. We showed customers some candidate commercials, including local, state and national races. Independent voter Nan Coppock-Bland really liked the Steve Novick game show parody of "To Tell The Truth." Novick is a Democrat running for the U.S. Senate. "Oh absolutely, I recognized it immediately, yeah," said Coppock-Bland. A spot by Novick's democratic opponent, Jeff Merkley, features Merkley's wife, a nurse. The commercial centers on health care, but Coppock-Bland was not very excited. "He's really in the background. When she says he's passionate, I look at him and he doesn't look passionate at all," Coppock-Bland said. Another voter really gives high marks for content and emotion to new Barack Obama ads running in Oregon. "Here he really nails it and makes those specific promises, so that really helps his impact," said Mike Sax. Then for those not paying attention to the TV spots, there are the political blogs on the web. However, American Politics instructor Steve Candee at Lane Community College said it's consumer beware. Candee said some blogs are untested and unqualified, and voters may be doing themselves a disservice if they don't check out the claims.