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  • Samuel Murphey, Staff Writer

Georgia Runoff Advertisements

It’s the last frontier of political advertisements in 2020. The last elections of a year marked with political drama, and the last chance for Democrats and Republicans to control the Senate. All of this is made clear by the torrent of political advertisements being put out by both sides and all of the candidates. The attention on these campaigns is nationwide attention, and not just from politicians. Celebrities like Alyssa Milano, who was an integral part of getting many people in the Georgia film industry to boycott Georgia due to the Heartbeat Abortion bill, have been active on social media calling for people to vote in the runoffs, and overwhelmingly support the Democratic candidates. PACs, or Political Action Committees, have ramped up interest in the Georgia Runoff elections. These PACs are able to fund campaigns and have been used frequently by both political parties. This is a common and lucrative method for political contenders to raise money, but PACs are limited on their donations. Super PACs aren’t. Super PACs, which gained popularity in and around the 2012 election, are able to spend and raise unlimited amounts of money but can’t give it to campaigns or candidates. Instead, those Super PACs spend money on independent advertisements, which are independent of the political candidate the ad is supporting. You can usually recognize these ads because they are paid for by an organization (i.e. The Senate Leadership Fund).

Who are these advertisements for, anyway? Why are these aspiring Senators gathering so much support? To answer the second question, because these runoffs will dictate which political party controls the Senate and thus will control what and how much policy is passed in Congress. As for the first question, there are two runoff elections in Georgia. One is between Republican incumbent and veteran Senator David Perdue and Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff, who narrowly lost to Karen Handel in a very close race for 6th District's Congressional seat in 2017. The other race is between two relatively new political contenders, Kelly Loeffler, who was appointed to replace now-former Senator Johnny Isakson, and Raphael Warnock, a senior pastor in the Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Money runs politics. Those who have it can buy resources, endorsements, and build support through advertisements and rallies. Almost everything politicians do cost money to organize, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that with the high stakes of this election, over 97 million dollars have been spent on the runoff elections already, according to the New York Times. Even though this is only the beginning of what’s sure to be a hard-fought Senatorial race, other elections have spent much more even considering that this is the start of the runoffs. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the competition between Thom Tillis and Cal Cunningham cost a stunning 272 million dollars, and the Presidential election blew those numbers out of the water, with candidates Joe Biden and Donald Trump spending a gargantuan sum of 14 billion dollars. Most of the money spent on these campaigns goes to advertisements, which require a lot of labor, capital, and financing to produce. According to the New York Times, the two Republican candidates have outspent the Democrats by quite a bit, with David Perdue putting down 19 million dollars in ad reservations and Kelly Loeffler has deposited a hefty 31 million dollars of which 20 million is her own money. Meanwhile Jon Ossoff and Reverend Warnock have spent a combined 32 million dollars, 12 by Ossoff and 20 by Warnock.

According to Advertising Analytics, most of this advertisement expense is going to negative advertisements. Kelly Loeffler ran one positive ad for herself, but cut it in favor of using all negative and attack ads, which have been more effective against her opponent Reverend Warnock. Warnock himself has been using mostly negative ads; three quarters of the advertisements he’s run have been negative. In addition to the negative ads and the advertisements in favor of Warnock, he ran a satirical advertisement poking fun at negative advertisements Kelly Loeffler was about to release. As of November 17th, there were 14 different advertisements being aired by the runoff candidates. Both Republicans aired ads that used the phrase “save the Senate,” and generally try to show their competitors as bad for the country, and both Democratic candidates have made a point of painting their opponents as untrustworthy and ruinous to the nation.

The stakes of this election are high, and whether or not this election has turnout similar to that of the presidential election, it is sure to have a lasting impact on the way our government acts and administrates for the next four years. So the next time you see a political ad, don’t groan or mindlessly agree; recognize what the candidate is saying, do your research, and make decisions on your own knowledge of who to vote for. In the end, political advertisements are still just advertisements, and candidates are trying to get you to buy into their campaign, their promises, and their ideas. Make sure you know who you’re voting for on January 5th, and make independent decisions when deciding who you will cast your ballot for in these critical runoff elections.

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