In the fall of 2008, as polls showed her chances for reelection diminishing with each passing day, then-Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-Inside the Beltway) decided to jump the shark, er, pull the “Godless Atheist” card. She started running ads across the Tarheel State (which she supposedly represented, but rarely visited) pointing out (quite accurately) that a leader of the Godless Americans held a “secret” fundraiser for her opponent Kay Hagan. That Democrat attended said fundraiser.
Now, while Mrs. Dole’s ads had more basis in fact than some of the stuff put out by the Coakley campaign in recent days, they betrayed a whiff of desperation. With those ads, she destroyed whatever chance the native North Carolinian had of reviving her candidacy.
Now, if the Massachusetts media were as harsh on Coakley’s negative ads as the Carolina media were on Dole’s, then the Massachusetts Democratic Party’s mailer alleging “that Scott Brown wants rape victims turned away from hospitals” could have a similar effect on Coakley’s candidacy. A Brown spokeswoman called the ad “patently false“. When a candidate is down (or declining in the polls) in the last lap of an electoral contest, such negative ads rarely have the intended effect. Instead of scaring people away from the savaged candidate, they make them disgusted with the candidate firing the broadsides.
Of course, it would be the Bay State Democrats sponsoring the attack. They want to deflect as much blame as they can away from the Coakley campaign itself
Whether or not this ad alone will prevent a Democrat from winning in this Democratic state is still far from clear. It is just one of many areas were the Coakley campaign (and it allies) have blundered in recent days. (I mean, heck, the late Senator Kennedy’s son kept calling the woman vying for the seat once held by his father, Daniel Webster and Charles Sumner Marcia.*)