As a candidate, Joe Miller has a reputation for being a hard-charging, unbending, take-no-prisoners, conservative. But as we discussed on The Midnight Sun Podcast, he and his campaign crew also have a reputation among many Alaska political strategists as being strong closers in the final weeks of the campaign.
Two new ads released by his campaign in the last week show a nuanced strategy in the final three weeks of his run for U.S. Senate that might surprise the casual observer and validate Miller’s “closer” reputation .
The first ad seems straight out of a Donald Trump rally. It accuses the race’s frontrunner, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, of being a liar and saying she joined “with establishment lobbyists and specials interests to wage a vicious smear campaign against the [Republican] nominee she promised to support.” The ad goes on “She won’t back Republicans but she thinks Republicans ought to back her. Arrogant Lisa plays by one set of rules but expects us to play by another. ” The ad wraps up by implying Murkowski is really supporting Hillary Clinton.
That is a pretty red meat ad targeted at the Alaska Republican Party’s overwhelmingly white-male base, a demographic that according to recent polls Donald Trump is still winning.
It shouldn’t be surprising then that according to public file disclosures at local radio stations this ad is running on stations with male-heavy listenership like KFQD and KWHL.
The second ad still goes after Murkowski but does it in a starkly different fashion. There are no references to Donald Trump, no “liar” or “arrogant” insults, and no appeal to partisanship. Instead, the ad goes after Murkowski’s record on fiscal and economic issues and then turns to a softer scored declaration of reasons Joe Miller is a good choice for senate.
Both the softer style and choice of focus on fiscal issues over insults and partisanship say this is an ad targeted to women. And it is a pretty good one, too. According to those same radio logs, the ad isn’t being placed on the conservative talk circuit in Alaska, but rather on music stations with stronger female demos like KGOT.
What is significant here is that that these ads show Joe Miller’s crew appears to understand what Donald Trump doesn’t, that even in a four-way race he’ll need female votes to win.