A Look at This Year's General Assembly Political Ads

Oct 23, 2019

If you’ve spent any time in front of a television or a laptop recently, you’ve probably noticed it’s campaign season.

They’re all over the place during the commercial breaks in the evening news. And now they’re popping up in your YouTube and Facebook feeds too: political ads for this year’s General Assembly races. One of the most popular ads is called “Coach Cox,” portraying Republican House Speaker Kirk Cox as kind of a College GameDay feature on ESPN.

Democratic strategist Ben Tribbett says the ad allows him to reintroduce himself. 

“Besides being a coach, Speaker Cox also was a teacher in his district for 30 plus years, and that really gives him a base of support in the community where people know him," Tribbett says. "And it makes it much easier for him to win crossover voters because of it.”

A screenshot from the "Chasing Chase" ad. It's from a California-based political action committee known as Fund Her.
Credit Fund Her

Some of the ads are more pointed, though, like the one from California-based PAC Fund Her. It’s called Chasing Chase, and it ties three Richmond-area Senate races together as a kind of viral parody.

Former Republican Delegate David Ramadan is now at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, and he says: 

“This Chasing Chase ad is unique because even though it is a negative ad, it’s sort of comical," Ramadan says. "It’s caricature, and it’s genius. It’s the first time I’ve seen such an ad.”

Television ads have long been a centerpiece of expensive races, but increasingly these ads are streaming on laptops and smartphones at a much lower cost to a highly-targeted market.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.