Will Karmeier attack ads get through the 'clutter?' Observer says effect will be 'minimal'

By Ann Maher | Oct 27, 2014

It's a matter of opinion whether recent ads accusing Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier of "allowing corporations to buy justice" are fair or not, says a political observer.

The more important question may be, will the 11th-hour anti-retention campaign resonate with voters?

David Yepsen, executive director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, said he believes the negative ad effect will be minimal because "it's coming so late in the campaign and because we're awash in so many ads this year."

Voters in the Metro-East are particularly inundated by close races in a two-state market - including for Illinois governor, Illinois 12th congressional district, St. Louis county executive and a Missouri state senate race.

Fairly new to viewers is messaging on Karmeier's bid for retention.

Attack ads sponsored by a group of attorneys who were on the losing end of cases overturned at the Illlinois Supreme Court began running in the district the weekend of Oct. 18 - just two weeks before the election. The ads accuse Karmeier of accepting millions in contributions from companies he then ruled for favorably.

Karmeier, who seeks a second 10-year term, must earn 60 percent voter approval in the Fifth Judicial District, which includes the state's 37 southern-most counties.

The anti-retention effort - Campaign for 2016 - has so far taken in $1.3 million from five attorneys or firms, compared to approximately $152,000 raised by Karmeier from about three dozen sources - individuals, businesses and Republican campaign organizations.

In spite of Campaign for 2016's overwhelming cash advantage, Yepsen expressed doubts about its message getting through to voters.

"I’m not sure a new ad for anybody can really punch through the clutter," Yepsen said. "Ad-makers know this and so they get more dramatic in their charges and in their graphics.

"However, that can push some of these ads 'over the top' with voters. Also, voters sometimes discount late hits in campaigns."

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