In the latest attempt to woo younger, more diverse voters, a Republican group has released an ad campaign comparing voting for various Republican gubernatorial candidates to Say Yes To The Dress, a reality show centered around women picking the right wedding gown.
One ad, paid for by the College Republican National Committee, shows a young woman trying on a wedding dress and raving about Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) as her mother urges her to pick Charlie Crist instead.
“Mom, this is my decision. And I see a better future with Rick Scott,” the bride says. At the end, she, her mother, and her African American maid of honor squeal and toast with champagne.
CRNC chairman Alex Smith told the Wall Street Journal that these are only the first of several ads meant to make the Republican Party seem “culturally relevant” to “the generation that has their earbuds in and their minds turned off to traditional advertising.”
Facing dismal approval numbers with women, minorities, and college students, Republican Party strategists have publicly urged candidates to talk to these voters in a new way. So far, however, the script hasn’t changed much. “Say Yes To Rick Scott” comes on the heels of another recent ad by Americans for Shared Prosperity that compares President Obama to an abusive boyfriend. “The goal here is to communicate with women voters in a way that outside groups and campaigns haven’t,” Americans for Shared Prosperity head John Jordan told Politico with the release of the ad.
But talking to women voters as if they consider voting the same as dating is nothing new. During the 2012 election cycle, the Republican National Committee ran an ad showing a woman “breaking up” with Obama. An outside group called Independent Women’s Voice also portrayed Obama as an unreliable boyfriend, featuring a young woman griping, “Why do I always fall for guys like this?” Lena Dunham also starred in a pro-Obama ad that coyly compared voting for the first time to having sex.
Republicans’ pitch to women has largely fallen flat. A recent poll commissioned by Republican groups found that most women think of the party as “stuck in the past” and “intolerant.” But the party has hardly budged on hard-line stances that have alienated women, such as reproductive rights and pay equity. Research suggests that Republicans lost women by such huge margins in 2012 not only because of offensive messaging, but because of extreme policy stances.