Those Awful Ads

A couple of years ago, my children introduced me to the phrase “first world problems.” First world problems are irritants that annoy people who are privileged to be part of the affluent “first world”–a computer glitch, a bad hair day, a spoiled dinner…The sorts of problems that millions of people around the world would love to have.

One of my “first world” problems is the idiocy–and frequency–of the political ads for Indiana Governor and Congress.

My husband and I mostly escape ads of all sorts by streaming most of our television viewing, but as older folks, we watch “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy,” which come to us via live television. Given the demographics of the audience for those shows, they are prime venues for candidates hoping to reach elderly reliable voters, and as the primary election has drawn closer, we are inundated by claims and messages that appear to be aimed at uninformed intellectual cretins.

I’ve previously posted about Jefferson Shreve’s ads for Congress. (He barely had time to catch his breath after losing the race for Indianapolis Mayor before launching this campaign. Obviously, he wants to “be someone.”) Shreve’s ads are inane, misleading and arguably racist, but by far the most offensive messages come from a congressional candidate whose name escapes me (It’s Chuck something-or-other) who says the most important issue facing Indiana is “biological men playing women’s sports” and who brags that while serving in Indiana’s legislature, he sponsored “and passed” (all by yourself, Chuck?) a bill addressing that monumental issue. He ends by pooh-poohing opponents who think “international stuff” is more important than protecting real women athletes from those he labels “biological men.”

Then there are the interminable ads for the gubernatorial nomination.

One of the six candidates for governor–Eric Doden– proclaims that he is the only one who has “a plan” to address his selected issues–but he doesn’t bother to say what those “plans” are. He also proclaims that he’s the only candidate running for governor who will explicitly make his “faith” front and center (his ads prominently feature a bible and little white church)–an excellent reason for avoiding him, in my opinion.

All of the governor candidates save one have signed on to Trump’s MAGA party, and one–Mike Braun–boasts that he’s been endorsed by Trump. (The voice-over says “and we know why.” Yes, indeed we do, and a lot of us find that disqualifying.)  At least three of them claim to be “outsiders,” a claim that runs from ludicrous to factually dubious, and raises the question “why would I vote for someone who doesn’t have the background needed to understand the job?”

James Briggs is an opinion columnist for the Indianapolis Star, and recently responded to a question about those campaign ads, and why most of them ignore issues that are specific to the state.

Carl Gottlieb: Most of the campaign for governor commercials I have seen on TV seem to be campaigning against President Biden. I didn’t know he controlled the Indiana Statehouse? Where do these clowns stand on issues relevant to Indiana?

I agree it’s annoying how candidates operate like McDonald’s franchisees, offering templated menus to local communities. But, much like in the restaurant industry, political candidates are responding to market demands

You, me and (probably) most people reading this exist in a bubble where we want to see candidates offer policy-based discussion. But it’s a pretty small bubble!

record 3 million Indiana residents, or 65% of registered voters, cast ballots in the 2020 general election. Turnout for those elections is typically below 60% — and it falls to around 25% for primary elections, which is what you’re talking about here with the GOP gubernatorial race (which is probably going to determine our next governor).

Among the people who show up and vote, most are busy living their lives. They pick up fragments of election-related information and file it away according to preexisting (and nationally oriented) understandings of politics.

Given the fact that a depressingly small number of voters can even name the current governor, Briggs points out that candidates with enough money to blanket the airwaves try to do three things:

No. 1, make people remember their names through Election Day; No. 2, link the candidate to values shared by voters; and No. 3, brand opponents as unacceptably awful and depress people who otherwise might vote for them.


  1. One of these dumb bunnies is bragging that He will BLOW UP government to increase jobs. Sounds like he has really thought this through. And they all fail to address how it is that when the R’s had control of everything in the Trump era, they FAILED to do any of the things they are yelling about today. They are All about performance and grievance. They have NO interest in fixing anything.

  2. What stuns me is Braun’s repeated arguments on government spending that demonstrates his complete lack of knowledge of economics and modern monetary policy.

  3. Is anyone surprised, really, that these – and virtually all Republican candidates – have more or less the same “messaging”? Since there is literally no intent to actually govern by these yahoos, all they have left is the fever dreams of their operatives and desperately ill ad men/women.

    These people are the REAL reasons, psychedelics should never be used in public. The escape from reality by Republicans is astounding in that so many people eligible to vote still follow this idiocy. The ads must work for some; and they watch Jeopardy too? Well, maybe that’s the best education they’ll ever receive.

  4. We record Jeopardy and watch it thirty minutes after it has aired. Then we can click past the ads. Can you do this? Our streaming service is YouTube tv.

  5. I watched the GOP Gubernatorial debate that was held on Monday at the Palladium. (It was recorded and you can also watch it on the Current Newspaper website). A real eye opener – and not in a good way. They did address some state issues, like if Indiana should become a referendum state (spoiler alert – don’t hold your breath on that one) and just about fell over one another explaining that [gerrymandered] Indiana doesn’t need that – they have elected their representation. Why should they need to have any further crack at an individual voice. Give it a watch – it’s a sad commentary about our State.

  6. The only comfort I can offer is that at least the drive (to drink) is short and the destination is pleasant. Go with a friend.

  7. As a media entrepreneur, I feel sorry for the companies putting together the ads for the Republican candidates. They don’t have much to work with when you consider most Republicans are anti-government and have done nothing for Indiana directly. Where is the ad material?

    I don’t watch TV, so I haven’t seen a campaign ad or heard one on the radio. None of the candidates have bothered to advertise on X, which is probably a good thing since more informed voters tend to congregate on X. They will get skewered like many of the HORs (House of Reps) who voted for the TikTok ban and those bragging about their allegiance with the genocidal Israel. All recipients of AIPAC money get a well-deserved toasting.

    Indiana doesn’t get the cream of the crop, and we don’t deserve the best. We don’t even deserve mediocre. The low-information voters in Indiana deserve the Brauns and Spartz. Spartz embarrassed Indiana this past week with her floor speech. She was idiotic! However, they are both Hoosier Republicans, which is all you need to know.

  8. Get a Republican ballot in the primary. Cast a vote that will destroy Braun and Banks. Then vote Dem in the November election. So glad Shreve took on those dangerous libs and Braun went to the border and solved it. No worries.

  9. I’ve seen Republican ads for IN governor over and over, but not one for the Democrat. This state is so stuck in voting tribe, it doesn’t matter who the candidate is as long as that candidate is Republican. I had a glimmer of hope when IN went for Obama in ’08, but that was short-lived. And I fear we will be stuck with the guy who voted to overturn the presidential election in 2020. Help us…

  10. If I were a McDonalds franchisee, I would be upset by your analogy. McDonalds franchisees are subject to certain minimum standards of quality, cleanliness and service.

  11. One of the most egregious problems with Indiana Primary Elections is that voters are required to choose either a Democrat or a Republican ballot. Many of us want the right to choose candidates based upon their perceived qualifications and potential ability to make wise choices and decisions for the citizens they will represent.

    Being a Democrat in a county and state dominated by Republicans forces me to: (1) choose a Republican ballot that at least gives me some power to make choices between several candidates or (2) choose a Democrat ballot with one or two candidates at most running for office. Choosing a Democrat ballot in my county’s Primary election effectively removes my ability to make choices between the candidates that will eventually win the general election.

    If, over the years, we choose different party ballots in the Primary elections it may adversely affect our ability to run for office in the future. This scenario is already happening for Joh Rust in the upcoming Indiana primary election. Could Indiana residents that have never voted in any prior IN Primary elections be prohibited from running for a state or federal office?

    Even though I won’t be voting for any republicans in the general election, I am glad John Rust has the financial ability to fight this bogus regulation created by our republican dominated state legislature.

  12. Being driven to drink wouldn’t be bad, if they would only agree to drive you home, as well. The problem with the GOPers is that no one wants to go home with them. One time after a lengthy discussion about abortion, I was advised that, if I believed what I said, I would most certainly go to hell. I said, “If you’re going to be in heaven, then I’m okay with that.”. True confession, he wasn’t the first to tell me that.😁

  13. I think that when I hear these ads, how stupid do these people think we are? Well it turns out from the polling there are plenty of either lazy or ignorant people out there that believe that the Governor has some control over the southern border, etc…. Shock and scare with no real policy or plan.

  14. The Indiana Governor does have control over the Indiana National Guard. He currently has them down at the Texas boarder doing god knows what in order to make it appear that the “crisis” is being addressed by Republicans alone. What hog wash! And what a waste of those men’s time and life in order to make a political point. Shame!

  15. I remember the days when the state parties held a convention and chose their candidates. The delegates to the conventions came from much smaller districts and knew the general sense of the voters in them. And they would usually not even consider anybody like those we’ve had since Richard Mourdock ‘deleted’ Sen. Richard Lugar.
    And the Democrats? They were a real force then, and offered candidates for almost every office!
    But, the best part??? None of these inane TV commercials twice a year – just the ones for the general election.

  16. When you think about it, why should Republican candidates for office talk about their stands on government during primaries when their vague discussions of matters outside their jurisdiction suffice? Why subject one’s general election outcome to chance when, like Braun, one can brag about an endorsement of Trump and taking a performative trip to the border (over which he if elected will have no jurisdiction such as Abbott is unconstitutionally asserting), since neither such endorsement or trip to the border will in any event repair roads and bridges or stem the brain drain from the state.

    Oops! Perhaps brain drain is a hidden policy in the smoke-filled back rooms of these cave dwellers since, after all, dumb polities are more easily manipulated. . .

  17. The Democratic Party Candidate is unopposed on the Primary ballot, so she is taking advantage of free media, and lots of personal appearances. Check with your local Democrat organization and you will find that McCormick will be there sometimes soon. In the meantime, go to her website and find out more about someone who truly wants to be a public servant and make our state govenment work for everyone.

    The GOP candidates for gov will be as awful as Trump as President, and by far Braun would be an absolute disaster.

  18. One party’s political ads proclaim “be afraid of everyone not like you and everything you never invested the time to learn about!”

    The other’s proclaim “be yourself!”

    Believe it or not that’s a tough choice for some.

  19. Too often in Indiana, having the R behind your name can guarantee you being voted for in an election. There is a segment that will not vote for a Democrat, no matter what negative things have happened. A former US Congressman comes to mind. How the districts have been drawn contributes to the GOP success.

  20. And let’s not forget that Mr Morality, aka Eric Doden, lives with his wife’s sister here in Indy! If not just downright suspect, the optics are at least is proof of very poor judgment. Geez!

  21. Sheila: thank you for this post, which is so spot-on. It’s a toss-up as to which candidate is the most obnoxious. You didn’t specifically discuss Crouch, who, a couple of months ago, unequivocally “endorsed” Trump–a man found liable for sexually assaulting and defaming a woman, and who can’t stop lying about not knowing who she is–despite photographic proof of him and Melania with Carroll and her then-husband at some party or even. Then, there’s all the other stuff, like stealing classified documents, lying about returning them, hiding them, lying about hush money paid to an adult “actress”, and fomenting an insurrection– so, how could any intelligent woman seeking to run an entire state publicly “support” this pig, other than to pander to the blind disciples who believed the Big Lie, which, sadly, in Indiana, is a large number. That’s why the mere sight of her makes my stomach sour.

    Shreve is pathetic–his big claim to fame is that he “stood up” to the radical Left that is responsible, according to him for Indianapolis being a crime-ridden hell hole, complete with pictures. He omits the fact that, despite spending tens of millions of his own money, he got his butt kicked. The rest of them are equally lame, but, sadly Braun has the lead. Despite being a former member of Congress, he claims to be an “outsider”. Braun proudly touts Trump’s “endorsement”. Bleah.

    What’s most disturbing to me is the depth of stupidity of Hoosiers that these candidates appear to be depending on. They come up with every sort of culture-war catchphrase that’s out there: “outsider”, “tough on crime”, “back the blue”, “biological men competing in womens’ sports”…..on and on. Obviously, they’re not pitching to folks in urban areas.

    It is a sad commentadry that even these people KNOW how gullible a large number of Hoosiers are, and they depend on this gullibility to seize power. It doesn’t make you proud to be a Hoosier.

  22. Great insights, and LOUSY ads. I’m curious how much did Braun through his company get in PPP “loans”?

  23. I worked with kids along side my wife’s job as a volunteer to the indigenous inner city impoverished and down trodden barely able to make ends meet families in the inner city. Our money, iur tax dollars should be going to make reparations for what the Democrat south did for two centuries. The free but once enslaved people moved within our borders to find jobs into cities, but one day a Democrat President named Bill Clinton opened the flood gates called the Free Trade agreement allowing jobs to leave our country destroying the great protections of our economy. This move further impoverished those who deserved reparations. But politicians who buy votes with money encourage openly a new low cost labor force that enables rich whites to flee from their responsibility to the black community.
    I would love to see an ad centering around this

  24. It’s a race to the bottom. No wonder people from other states think Hoosiers are hayseeds. These ads are nauseating. What happened to intelligence? Living in Indiana feels like no vote at all since gerrymandering and big Republican dollars all but guarantees any of these fools can win.

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