Viral Campaign Ads So Good, They're Bad

“Mike, Mike, Mike Weinstein.  Working hard for you and me.”  So begins the catchiest campaign advertisement we’ve seen this election season—a plug for the Republican incumbent from the 19th District of Florida’s House of Representatives.  In a year when campaign ads have yanked attention for thinly veiled bigotry, negative attacks, or sheer bizarreness, Weinstein’s vid has gone viral for more positive reasons, though it’s not exactly focused on the issues. Forget Rep. Weinstein bucking his party and opposing a Florida law that tied teacher’s pay to student performance, check out that keyboard solo at the 1:07 mark!  

During the YouTube era, in which every campaign video can generate national buzz, candidates have done worse. Alabama gubernatorial candidate Tim James tried to score points with voters who want stricter controls on illegal immigration with a spot calling for the state to give driver’s licenses tests in English only. “This is Alabama. We speak English. If you want to live here, learn it,” James said. He finished third in the Republican primary, then pushed for a recount. Then there was the infamous “Demon Sheep” ad for Carly Fiorina, now the Republican nominee in the California Senate race. The farm- animal-filled video painted opponent Tom Campbell as a wolf in sheep’s clothing—a wolf with glowing red eyes, that is.  

Yet here we are, still talking about both spots. That's because when it comes to campaign ads, there’s a thin line between awesome and awful; it's the worst ads that tend to go viral, filed in the so-bad-they're-good category. This ad for Rex Burkholder, a local candidate in Portland, Ore., might have gone too far to the awful side when it showed the candidate jumping up and down in a field with a construction worker, a cyclist, a businessman, and other actors. Does Weinstein’s son singing “Stepping up for you and me/and fixing our economy!” go too far as well? It probably doesn't matter. If the test of an advertisement in a relatively obscure campaign is whether or not it helps voters remember the candidate’s name, then this video gets high marks. Mike, Mike, Mike Weinstein …

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