Sunday, 04 Dec 2022

How Republicans racist attack ads wiped out Democrats lead in Wisconsin

How Republicans racist attack ads wiped out Democrats lead in Wisconsin


How Republicans racist attack ads wiped out Democrats lead in Wisconsin

After months of flinging mud, Senator Ron Johnson was finally obliged to admit that his Democratic opponent in the upper midwestern state of Wisconsin had never actually made a call to "defund the police".

But that did not stop the Trumpist senator's re-election drive from continuing to broadcast racially charged advertisements falsely claiming that Mandela Barnes, the lieutenant governor of Wisconsin, "rationalized violence" against the police and tying him to the most controversial positions of Black Lives Matter.

Barnes and his supporters dismiss the ads as evidence of Johnson's desperation. But the campaign of "race and fear" has had an impact as an election that Barnes once looked to have in the bag is now too close to call.

Across the country, Republican strategists have ratcheted up attacks on Democrats over fears of crime as the midterm elections approach with predictable results in many races. But Barnes, who is running to become Wisconsin's first Black senator and is named after South Africa's iconic former president, is on the end of a particularly pointed campaign that has eaten into a once substantial lead in the final weeks of a race that could decide control of the US Senate.

"There's definitely a racial overtone," said Charles Franklin, director of the respected Marquette law school polling of Wisconsin voters.

"The massive amount of negative advertising attacking Barnes on crime more than anything else is surely the explanation for why he has seen the gap close since August, or a big part of it."

Johnson won the seat, once held by the notorious communist baiter Jospeh McCarthy, in the 2010 backlash against Barack Obama's presidency, unseating a three-term Democrat. He was re-elected in 2016 by a margin of just 3.4 points.

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