A new ad from a Republican group argues that women have been in a long, unhappy relationship with a man who spies on them, promised to "be better," and doesn't care about their needs: President Obama.
The 60-second Americans for Shared Prosperity ad compares the relationship between female voters (who overwhelmingly supported Obama in 2008 and 2012) to a bad relationship during a time when the NFL's domestic violence issues have received a lot of attention.
The commercial aims to speak to female voters by addressing their concerns beyond birth control — like national security, privacy, and the economy. California winery owner, millionaire, and head of AFSP John Jordan told Politico (one of the sites running the ad) that he didn't agree with Democrats' "war on women" talking point, but also felt that Republican groups haven't found the right way to get their message specifically to women.
One problem with the ad, however, is that in light of the recent NFL domestic violence uproar, it reads like an abuse story. Dr. Michael Bitzer, a politics professor at North Carolina's Catawba College, tweeted:
@nate_cohn it sounded like an abuse story (with NFL in the news, that's where my mind went)…and then it was very apparent it was Obama— Dr. Michael Bitzer (@CatawbaPolitics) September 21, 2014
Elias Isquith, an assistant politics editor at Salon, tweeted "Last thing I love about this @therickwilson ad is the way it mocks women in abusive relationships."
The ad features a woman who "fell in love" with a guy in 2008 whose online profile made him seem perfect — "smart, handsome, charming, articulate." But things started going south around 2012. The ad criticizes NSA spying and Obama's foreign policy by likening it to a boyfriend who spies on you. "He's in my emails and text messages, spying on me but ignoring real threats," she says. Obama's name isn't mentioned until the very end of the spot.
At one point the woman uses phrasing domestic abuse survivors use to describe why they stayed with their partners. "But I stuck with him, because he promised he'd be better," the woman says. "He's great at promises." This is reminiscent of the recent #WhyIStayed hashtag on Twitter in the wake of the Ray Rice domestic violence video. Women explained that they stuck with their abusers in part because he or she promised they'd stop, promised they'd change, or promised they'd never do it again.
But for AFSP, the goal of the ad is to get women to focus on who will better address issues other than free birth control, like the economy. The ad is already airing in North Carolina, where Democratic Sen. Kay Hagen is in a difficult re-election race.
“Women voters care as much about the economy jobs death and spending as do other groups — but certainly on the Republican side there’s been no effort to reach that group,” Jordan told Politico."The purpose of this is to treat women voters more like adults." AFSP is probably hoping that female voters in North Carolina pay more attention to politics that the NFL.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.