Amy McGrath Is Avoiding Attack Ads. Can a Congressional Candidate Win Without Them? – By Michael Tackett – NYT

The race for Kentucky’s Sixth Congressional District between the Republican incumbent, Andy Barr, and his Democratic challenger, Amy McGrath, has featured one of the highest concentration of political ads in the country — almost 7,000 airings — in one of the most fiercely fought races.

But there is a twist. The contest also has one of the most lopsided ratios of negative-to-positive ads, with Mr. Barr and aligned Republican groups spending more than $3 million in the relatively inexpensive Lexington media market in the past six weeks, overwhelmingly on spots attacking Ms. McGrath.

Ms. McGrath, so far, has not run attack ads against Mr. Barr, an approach that makes this contest a laboratory to test the long-held proposition that while voters find negative ads distasteful, candidates use them because they work.”

David Lindsay, NYT comment:  Bravo Michael Tackett. I didn’t feel satisfied at the end of this article, and stared to tear it down in my mind for focusing on a topic, ad strategy, rather than the actual positions of the candidates. Then I reviewed the article in my mind, and had two thoughts. Today, you can get the bullet positions on their websites, so the article would have just been stronger with a hyperlink to each candidate’s website. Second, I was able to see many position obliquely, through the discussion of the ads. I watched the ad on Amy McGrath playing soccer while responding to 6 or 7 vile attacks. I wrote on Facebook: There is a good article in the NYT today about Amy McGrath, running as a Democrat in the Kentucky 6th Congressional distinct. She is turning heads, by refusing to answer her opponents onslaught of negative ads, by making almost all her ads about what she stands for. This ad, is her one attack ad, which one woman is quoted as calling stupid, since soccer has nothing to do with being a congressman. I think it’s a brilliant ad. She deserves support if you can afford it, regardless of what party you belong to.

David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at and

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