We’re just a couple of days away from the 2014 midterm elections. On Tuesday night, we'll know the fate of Congress and Governors' mansions across the country. We'll also bid an official and not-so-fond farewell to this year's slew of cringe-inducing political ads. And, oh what a slew there are.
There’s been more campaign spending this election cycle than ever before. According to projections by the Center for Responsive Politics, the 2014 midterms will cost close to an astonishing $4 billion. Most of that money (about $2.7 billion) is being coughed up by parties and candidates, with the GOP reportedly spending a bit more than Dems.
But, there's still plenty of money flowing in from corporations, unions, and nonprofits, too — as we continue to see fallout from 2010’s controversial Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court. (That's the ruling that lets corporations and unions give unlimited amounts of independent election funding; the one that prompted Mitt Romney's famous "corporations are people, my friend" line). The Senate tried and failed to reverse that ruling this September, and so the spending continues unabated. So, what are candidates and their supporters doing with all the moolah being thrown their way? Creating ridiculous ads, of course. Here are six of the silliest.
“Say Yes To The Candidate”
While it was widely mocked as perhaps the most sexist GOP ad of all time, the College Republican National Committee liked this ad so much that they made a bunch of versions of it for races across the country. A spoof of the TLC show Say Yes to the Dress, the ad is uniquely off-putting in its implications about women — namely, that they’re all wedding-obsessed nitwits. In the above example (made for Rick Scott in Florida), an attractive young blond woman expresses her love for “The Rick Scott” dress (“Rick Scott is becoming a trusted brand!”) while her disapproving, out-of-touch mom suggests a competing dress, the Charlie Crist, even though it’s “outdated and a little expensive.”
Joni Ernst, who's running for the Republican Senate seat in Iowa, released this epic, disjointed, and slightly disturbing ad in which she brightly proclaims, "I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm, so when I get to Washington, I'll know how cut pork," punctuated by the sounds of piglets squealing. As Ernst launches into the initiatives she'll tackle if elected (balancing the budget, cutting wasteful spending, and repealing Obamacare), images of piglets sleeping soundly in hay-strewn barn stalls begins to roll. "Washington's full of big spenders; let's make 'em squeal," she offers as her parting words.
This ad targeting Martha McSally — created by the pro-Democrat House Majority PAC — pairs up images of the Republican McSally (running for Gabby Giffords' congressional seat in Arizona) with floating recipe cards listing her purported offenses (such as support for privatizing Social Security and raising the retirement age). Also adding to the inexplicable in-the-kitchen vibe: background images of a rolling pin and flour. No clue what McSally has to do with cooking, but the ad may have worked, at least in part: Her numbers have been declining. "A recipe for disaster," indeed?
Mike Obermueller, Democratic candidate for Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District, released this rockin’ video back in August. In it, he skewers opponent John Kline for "being played by the insurance industry." And, he accomplishes this with the help of a blaring pink font and an image of an iPhone (complete with hot-pink charger) playing footage of Kline bemoaning that "Obamacare is a continuing disaster." The spot then captures random insurance executives dancing on desks to hip tunes, throwing money in the air. It closes with one of the execs falling face-first into a cake with Kline's face plastered on it.
This is the ad with all the naked people in it. Kelly Kultala, onetime Kansas state senator and current Democratic contender for Congress, gets risqué in an attack against incumbent Kevin Yoder. The spot centers on a range of people lounging in a swimming pool, addressing charges that Yoder was "skinny-dipping on the job." (Note that this isn't a weird metaphor; the Congressman really did admit to leaping naked into the Sea of Galilee in 2012.) Notable moments include a naked older gentleman noting that "the nekkid truth is that Yoder voted to cut Medicare for seniors" and a close-up shot of a man with a book strategically hiding his man parts. (There’s a helpful caption assuring us that it’s a “dramatic reenactment,” and not actually Yoder).
“#GotBalls? Vote for Bob Quast"
This seemingly low-budget '70s-style ad starts off innocently enough. It opens with Bob Quast, an independent running for the Senate seat in Iowa, running — literally — with an adorable Pomeranian and baby in tow. After that, things get weird...and sad. The camera cuts to Quast standing inside his home, warning "the sexual predator and sociopath who murdered my sister Lynnette" that if he comes to Quast's house, he'll meet an unfortunate end. "I'm going to use my Glock to blow your balls off," he says with a grin. True, the subject matter is sad, but the sight of a candidate threatening the camera with a gun in his hands is still eye-popping.