Josh Shapiro Is Not Responsible for Doug Mastriano's Win
The pro-Mastriano ad was stupid. But it didn't win him the nomination.
Come hang out with TNB tonight!
Charlie Sykes, Sarah Longwell, and Mona Charen will be talking about this week’s primary votes and taking your questions.
I expect you to ask them lots about FETTERMANIA.
1. About That Shapiro Ad
You may have noticed a line emerging yesterday from certain Republicans about how Doug Mastriano’s victory in the Pennsylvania gubernatorial primary is all the fault of Democrats.
The argument, best as I can tell, goes something like this:
I hate Mastriano. But I have to support him because Shapiro ran an ad boosting his campaign.
This is bs. Let’s take it apart.
First, here’s the ad Shapiro ran:
Because it was run during the primaries, it was basically an ad for Mastriano. Every part of the argument it makes is a negative for the general election, but a positive for Republican primary voters.
Sure, at the very end the script flips and asks “Is this what we want for Pennsylvania?” That line keeps it from being a pure dirty-trick play. But that’s a fig leaf. Clearly, the Shapiro campaign was trying to thumb the scale for Mastriano, the way Claire McCaskill did with Operation Dog Whistle in 2012 when she set out on an elaborate scheme to make Todd Akin the Republican nominee.
But here’s the thing: What Shapiro did was actually nothing like what McCaskill did.
Here’s how McCaskill ran her pro-Akin skunkworks:
She polled Republican primary voters extensively far in advance of the vote.
The campaign spent $1.7 million on pro-Akin ads throughout the primary, starting when he was a distant second place.
When the Akin campaign pulled its most effective ad toward the end of the race, McCaskill’s people literally passed messages to them telling them to put the ad back up on the air because McCaskill’s internal polling showed it was effective for Akin.
McCaskill even let the Akin campaign talk to their in-house pollster!
That’s not putting your thumb on the scale—it was collusion between the two campaigns in the name of manufacturing a victory for an underdog candidate who wouldn’t have even been in contention without McCaskill’s help.
On the other hand, what the Shapiro campaign did was put its Mastriano ad up on May 5, two weeks before the vote. By that point Mastriano was already the clear leader.
Additionally, the Shapiro campaign only spent $840,000 on the ad—which isn’t much for a relatively expensive state with two big media markets.
And what cinched the race for Mastriano was Trump’s endorsement, not the Shapiro ad.
Should Shapiro have run the ad at all?