I saw this ad for a man named Joe Collins. He is running for CA-43 and put out a new video attacking Maxine Waters for not living in the district she represented for 44 years. It depicts her as dishonest. Looking at the Cook PVI and other stats like it, it looks like she will get about 3/4 of the vote.

What is the point for running an ad for someone like that in a safe seat that is safe for the opposite party? If there was an ad against Marjorie Taylor Greene, I would say the same thing. But this is the one that I have actually been seeing.

Link to ad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3wMj24GjtA


1 Answer 1


Multiple reasons:

  1. Spreading information can win adherents to your party and grow the base even if it is currently small, both in the party and elsewhere (e.g. to advance the argument that California politics are corrupt and that you don't want to be part of the ruling party of California).

  2. The extent to which a race is in play is not a fixed thing. Maybe everyone voted for the Democrat in what is considered a safe seat because the nominee that year was a loser who didn't really try. If a more viable candidate really tries hard and gets a higher but still losing voter share, it will be considered more viable going forward to contest. Maybe the PVI for a district is an illusion caused by past candidate incompetence.

  3. Good candidates running against bad opponents can get people to split tickets and deviate from their usual partisan inclinations in races that would usually be hopeless (see, e.g. the Alabama U.S. Senate vacancy race in 2017 with a Cook's PVI of R+14).

  4. The ads reach beyond the district and can taint attitudes towards the political party of the target in more tightly contested races against other members of the same party.

  5. It is an expression of the viability of the party that lets supporters in the district not feel abandoned. This sense that the party has their back even when the fight is futile could encourage them to support party candidates outside the district. If you do nothing, Republican voters in the district, who may make a difference in other contested races for different offices, may feel abandoned and hopeless and not vote at all in more viable contests.

  6. It is a loyalty test for donors and for the candidate running the ad. The show of loyalty may win preferential treatment from the party in other matters.

  7. A related issue is that some affluent donors max out their ability to donate to their political allies as a matter of principle because they can and because it gives them high status and influence in the party. Assuming that some people do that without regard to the viability of the race in any given year, there is money in the campaign coffers to spend whether you need it or not. You are legally barred from personally gaining from that money. So, as a candidate, you may as well have an flashy ad made and run it.

  8. Running a good but hopeless campaign may get you hired to run a more viable race later (perhaps in a newly drawn district that is more favorable after the 2020 Census) and builds name recognition in the meantime.

  9. Spending money to buy adds from media outlets can be perceived as a way to encourage the media outlet who bought the ads to be at least somewhat even handed in their coverage of this race, and other partisan political matters, whether or not this actually works.

  10. Spending money on ads gives you the appearance of being a legitimate candidate who lost rather than a crackpot candidate who can't be trusted with matters of importance in other domains.

  11. Bonus applicable in this particular case:

He is running for CA-43 and put out a new video attacking Maxine Waters for not living in the district she represented for 44 years. It depicts her as dishonest.

He could be attempting to influence decision makers (judges, jurors, members of Congress) in a future non-electoral legal challenge or ethics complaint in a way that could not be done in the formal process for adjudicating that complaint itself.

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