The Koch brothers’ front group Freedom Partners abruptly canceled $1.1 million in ads in Michigan aimed to help elect Republicans last week, according to Politico.
Did the brothers Koch look at the run of polls that show Mark Schauer running neck-and-neck with scandal-ridden Governor Rick Snyder or a stark assessment from the National Journal that illustrates how Senate nominee Terri Lynn Land is as bad a candidate as Republicans feared she’d be?
More likely, the Kochs realize that in the state preferred by four out of five of the Great Lakes, at least, their involvement may be doing more harm than good.
Last week, The Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent looked at the internals of poll showing Democrat Gary Peters leading Land by seven points. Michiganders, it showed, view the Kochs unfavorably by a margin of two-to-one.
“While it’s true that 33 percent have not heard of them, a total of 56 percent have heard of them, which is pretty high,” Sargent wrote. “A large majority finds the anti-Koch message — that Land is beholden to big oil billionaires bankrolling her campaign — convincing.”
Land’s brief lead in the polls ended at the end of February, coincidentally around the time HealthCare.gov finally began to become functional. But Peters began to pull ahead in March after ads directly connecting Land’s campaign to the Kochs began to air.
Could this strategy work nationally? Highlighting the connection between a person’s personal wealth and their policies that increase that wealth is a continuation of the Romney/Bain strategy.
It could if candidates can do what Gary Peters has done by making their opposition to the Kochs personal, it becomes sharp and effective. In his stump speech, the Rep. Peters traces the Kochs opposition to his candidacy back to an inquiry he made about the petcoke dust piles that Detroiters despise.
Dependence on the Great Lakes also seems to drive opposition to environmental policies that are pleasing to the billionaire proprietors of the world’s private largest oil company.
“The poll also finds that 45 percent see climate change as an urgent problem, and another 13 percent see it as a problem to address in the years ahead — a total of 57 percent,” Sargent wrote. “And it finds 39 percent would probably or definitely not vote for someone who doesn’t believe human activity is causing climate change. Land’s position is that climate change exists, but she hasn’t, to my knowledge, clarified whether she believes humans cause it.”
Some ads may have been canceled but the Kochs are in no way pulling out of Michigan. Their Americans for Prosperity front exemplifies the long-term investment they’re making in keeping purple states red, at least in non-presidential years.
However, something unique may be happening in Michigan. It’s possible that millions of dollars in ads can be made counterproductive, if voters don’t like the agenda of the Kochs who are helping purchase them.