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Xenophobic ad backfires on Michigan's Hoekstra

Former Rep.
Xenophobic ad backfires on Michigan's Hoekstra
Xenophobic ad backfires on Michigan's Hoekstra

Former Rep. Pete Hoekstra, a leading Republican gubernatorial candidate in Michigan, thought it'd be a good idea to run a xenophobic, borderline-racist campaign ad during the Super Bowl. As Laura reported a day later, Hoekstra insisted the commercial "has been very, very effective."

Now would be a good to time to ask, "Effective for whom?"

Soon after Hoekstra's ad aired, a surprising number of Republicans conceded they were uncomfortable with it. A few days later, the gubernatorial candidate scrapped the website featuring the ad.

It was too late. Yesterday, a survey from Public Policy Polling suggested the damage has already been done.

Debbie Stabenow's taken her biggest lead yet in 4 polls of the Michigan Senate race PPP has conducted dating back to December of 2010. She now leads Pete Hoekstra by 14 points, 51-37. [...]What's interesting is that Stabenow's approval numbers have barely budged at all over the last 6 months. Over the summer we found her at 46/40, and now she's at 47/41. But Hoekstra's numbers have taken a turn for the worst.... Hoekstra appears to have been damaged by his controversial Super Bowl ad.

Most voters in the state are familiar with the campaign commercial, and by a three-to-one margin, they don't like it. Hoekstra crossed a line and Michigan's mainstream was understandably offended.

What's more, as Dave Weigel noted, "The dumb ad and the backlash sent powerful Republicans into meditative states, wondering if they should back other candidates.... The China ad did him no favors with conservatives while spooking the establishment."