As Georgia Campaigns Shift Into Last Gear, Ads Take On A Different Tone

After the primary, Brian Kemp is striking a different tone with his campaign ads.

Screengrab via YouTube

Voters have about 60 days before the general election in November, and the candidates for governor are trying to win them over. With the primaries over, the focus is now on a wider group of people.

Those who followed the Republican governor’s primary, will probably remember ads like this:

And this:

The ads got a lot of attention, and votes. Now, candidate Kemp is striking a different tone:

Andra Gillespie teaches political science at Emory University. She said this change makes sense.

“He’s trying to shore up that support in the center. He’s trying to reintroduce himself to a general electorate that looks very, very different from the primary electorate,” she said. “[That race] was focused on highly engaged, highly informed Republican voters who brought a certain ideological sensibility to the race that’s not going to be shared by everyone who’s voting in November.”

Not so much, with Democrat Stacey Abrams’ campaign, Gillespie said.

“The Abrams who is talking about jobs who is talking about health care now … was talking about those issues in April and May as well,” she said.

This is one of Abrams’ primary ads:

A recent ad featured one of the same characters, Kenny Mullins, with a similar message.

Charles Bullock, who teaches political science at the University of Georgia, said he has noticed that Abrams has shifted, for example by avoiding talking about the Confederate monument at Stone Mountain.

But Kemp has a harder task in the general election, according to Bullock.

“In that if Kemp modifies his message too much he may turn off some of the hard core voters who picked him as opposed to Casey Cagle back in that runoff,” he said.

What’s to come in the campaign strategies?

“I would be surprised to see a chainsaw again or an explosion again,” Gillespie said.

She expects attack ads next.

“And then we might see the candidates try to pivot back, if at all possible right at the end of the election cycle, at the end of October, beginning of November,” she said.

“I think it’s not an issue of whether or not policies have changed, I think it’s an issue of what gets amplified and when it gets amplified.”