IN: Lugar, Mourdock placing faith in their attack ads

April 23, 2012

By TOM LoBIANCO The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — One of Indiana’s most expensive Senate primaries is being fought on the airwaves because negative advertising works.

The grim visage of hawk-nosed Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock, the slightly glazed look from U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, the ominous synthesizers and the gray-scale photography have defined the battle for Indiana’s U.S. Senate seat more than anything else.

Lugar’s latest attack points to a complicated property tax dispute and argues of Mourdock: “The more you know him, the less you trust him.” Mourdock, meanwhile, counters in his most recent blast: “When Dick Lugar moved to Washington, he left behind his conservative Hoosier values.”

The negative ads are working. A new Mourdock-commissioned poll that shows him narrowly beating Lugar also shows that more Hoosiers now know him and they’re fairly split: Half of that increased recognition is negative and the other half is positive.

Lugar’s recognition among voters — an indispensable concept in politics known as “name ID” — is about as close to universal as anyone gets, but the blast of ads has dented even his image.

According to, Lugar has already spent $5.4 million and Mourdock has laid out $1.7 million with two weeks left in the Republican primary battle. That’s not accounting for the myriad super PACs and national interest groups that have descended on Indiana.

Even in the stated age of social media and online fundraising, broadcast attacks still hit infinitely harder. Mourdock’s official Twitter campaign account stood at a relatively paltry 2,238 followers at the end of last week, and Lugar had 4,472 followers for his account.

The numbers are a pittance compared with the reach of Indiana’s television stations, and the campaigns have invested their money accordingly: Lugar and his surrogates had out-blasted Mourdock and his supporters on the air 2-1, spending roughly $3 million to the opposition’s $1.7 million as of last week.

As the Democratic Party’s pick for the seat, U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly has kept his head low while his party has pounded on both candidates.

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