Americans for Prosperity Chief: We Don’t Know If $27 Million in Anti-Obama Ads Has Any Effect

 

On Monday Americans for Prosperity, the conservative nonprofit group founded by billionaire David Koch, unveiled its fourth television ad attacking President Obama and demanding his ouster in November’s presidential election. The newest ad volley will run in 11 states and cost $6.2 million; after accounting for this latest blitz, AFP’s total spending on outright anti-Obama ads will hit $27 million.

But is that money well-spent? Has it moved the dial of public support? Is Obama less likely to win reelection? AFP doesn’t know.

AFP president Tim Phillips told Mother Jones at a press conference Monday afternoon that he couldn’t speak to the effectiveness of his group’s multi-million-dollar anti-Obama campaign. “It’s difficult to assess the kind of bang for buck, candidly,” he said. “We just wanted to take a stand.”

AFP is one of the most powerful political players in national conservative politics. The organization has 200-plus staffers on its payroll, chapters and affiliates in 34 states, and its overall budget will top $100 million in 2012. Because AFP is a nonprofit, it does not disclose its donors and cannot make politicking the bulk of what it does. According to ProPublica, AFP and another politically active nonprofit, the Rove-backed Crossroads GPS, spent more money on TV ads through mid-August than every super-PAC combined.

Phillips pointed out that AFP’s anti-Obama ads—seen here, here, here, and here—are the first in the group’s eight-year history to specifically call for any one candidate’s defeat. “It was a very difficult decision for this organization. We’ve been around eight years and we’ve never done express advocacy,” he said, referring to the type of ad advocating a vote for or against a candidate. “Frankly we prefer not to” run express advocacy ads, he added.

Phillips also cast doubt on whether AFP will run these kinds of politically charged ads in the future. “Frankly, we don’t want to do this, and I don’t suspect next year you’ll see us, or the next year, doing this again, or in a very limited fashion,” he said.

 

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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