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New Study: ProgressMass Analysis of Scott Brown's Campaign Press Releases Reveals a Campaign Heavy on Political Attacks, Light on Policy Substance

 

For Immediate Release: August 29, 2012
Contact: Mathew Helman, Communications Director
E-mail: mathew@progressmass.org, Cell: 617-821-8004

BOSTON - A new analysis of Republican Scott Brown's re-election campaign by ProgressMass reveals that Brown commits a substantial portion of his public communications to political attacks, and only a much smaller portion to any kind of substantive policy discussion of his own positions.  About 30% of Republican Scott Brown's campaign press releases focus primarily on political attacks against his opponent (39 out of 132), while only about 11% of his campaign press releases focus primarily on his own policy positions (only 15 out of 132).

"The criticism Republican Scott Brown has received for lacking substance and seriousness is well-deserved in light of this analysis of Brown's own public communications," noted Mathew Helman, Communications Director for ProgressMass.  "Given Republican Scott Brown's right-wing record of partisan obstruction in the Senate, it isn't surprising that he would focus far more on attacking his opponent than he would on discussing his own policies.  Republican Scott Brown would rather throw rocks than talk honestly about his work to water down Wall Street regulations, his vote to protect Big Oil tax giveaways, and his 80% anti-choice voting record."

ProgressMass tallied every single press release Scott Brown's re-election campaign posted on its campaign website for the 2012 calendar year from January 1 through August 27, 132 in total, and divided the press releases into four categories:

·    Policy: To give Republican Scott Brown the benefit of the doubt, ProgressMass gave very generous leeway to what would qualify as "policy."  Essentially, any press release that focused primarily on Brown's own policy position - even if the press release also included misleading rhetoric (such as Brown referring to himself as "pro-choice" despite an 80% anti-choice voting record [Boston Globe, "Abortion opposition group to back Scott Brown," 8/24/12]) or invective against his opponent - was given the designation of "policy."

·    Attack on Opponent: Any press release that focused primarily on an invective against Republican Scott Brown's political opponent or focused primarily on misleading or biased material against Brown's opponent fell into this category.

·    Campaign Process: Any press release that focused on procedural campaign boilerplate fell into this category.  Examples of "campaign process" include conservative endorsements, poll analysis, statements regarding national holidays, and comments on which debates Republican Scott Brown would attend or avoid.

·    Advertisement/Video Release: Any press release that announced the release of a paid television or radio advertisement or web-based video fell into this category, unless it overwhelmingly focused on invective against his opponent, in which case it fell into the "Attack on Opponent" category.

Republican Scott Brown: Heavy on Political Attacks, Light on Policy Substance

Of the 132 press releases that Republican Scott Brown's campaign release in 2012, through August 27:

ScottBrownPressReleases.png·    46 focused on campaign process (35%);

·    39 focused on attacks on his opponent (30%);

·    32 focused on the release of a new paid advertisement or web video (24%); and,

·    only 15 focused primarily on Republican Scott Brown's own policy positions (11%).

The numerical breakdown allows for the following points of analysis:

·    Nearly three times as many press releases from Republican Scott Brown's campaign focused primarily on attacks against his opponent than focused primarily on his own policy positions.

·    Given that nearly one-third of Republican Scott Brown's press releases focused primarily on attacks against his opponent, one could legitimately dub Brown a bona fide "rock thrower."

·    As shamefully low as Mitt Romney's 13.9% effective tax rate was for 2010, the 13.9% figure is still higher than the percentage of Republican Scott Brown's press releases focused primarily on his own policies (11%).

·    Republican Scott Brown's campaign put out the same number of press releases on a staged half-court basketball shot (1, on 4/29) as the Brown campaign has put out on Israel/Middle East policy (1, on 3/2), on energy/environmental policy (1, on 3/29), and on immigration policy (1, on 6/25).  It should be unsettling to Massachusetts residents that Republican Scott Brown commits the same amount of public communication focus to a silly distraction like a staged basketball shot as he does to those critically important policy areas.

Republican Scott Brown Has Been Criticized Throughout 2012 for Lacking Substance and Seriousness

Earlier this year, Republican Scott Brown's level of seriousness was brought into question on a popular talk radio program, leading to one of Brown's more notorious gaffes:

Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) defended himself against the accusation that his campaign is not serious on Thursday by speaking of "secret meetings," sometimes with royal figures.

"Each and every day that I've been a United States senator, I've been discussing issues, meeting on issues, in secret meetings with kings and queens and prime ministers and business leaders and military leaders, talking, voting, working on issues every single day," he said on Jim Braude and Margery Eagan's show on local station WTTK-FM, according to the Boston Globe. [Huffington Post, "Scott Brown Touts 'Secret Meetings' With Royalty," 6/21/12]

Earlier this month, Republican Scott Brown delivered remarks that were billed in advance as a "major policy speech."  Unfortunately for Brown, the reviews only served to reinforce the fact that he lacks substance and seriousness on policy:

The remarks, delivered to the South Shore Chamber of Commerce at Lombardo's in Randolph, were billed as a major policy speech, but did not make any new policy pronouncements, instead reiterating themes that Brown has struck throughout his Senate race. [Boston Globe, 8/14/12]

But, in what was billed as a major policy speech, Brown delivered few specifics of his own tax policy. [Springfield Republican, 8/14/12]

Scott Brown is delivering his "major policy speech" now. [...] Still waiting for the "major" part of it... [Twitter account of Cynthia Needham, the Boston Globe's Metro political editor]

Massachusetts voters deserve a substantive discussion and debate about what policy positions our U.S. Senator will advocate over the next six years.  So far, Republican Scott Brown has come up woefully short on substance and seriousness regarding such policy discussions.  This analysis quantitatively reinforces that observation.

 

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