The Best, Worst And Most Shocking Ads Of The 2012 Presidential Election

If President Obama wins Ohio and the election, much of the credit will go to this one ad:

It was so successful in framing Mitt Romney in the swing states during the summer that Priorities USA, the Obama-supporting Super PAC, brought it back for a huge spend when the polls tightened after the debate. Priorities USA’s Bill Burton explains why:

In our Ohio focus groups this week, we asked swing voters to name the television ads that stood out most to them, in all the welter of advertising they have seen. ‘Stage’ is the ad that most frequently came to mind: participants were able to describe it in detail and recall the emotional impact it had on them, despite the fact that it had not run in that market for over six weeks.

While this ad was hugely effective in defining Mitt Romney, it didn’t get nearly as much attention as this next ad:

The Most Shocking

This ad never aired on TV, but may have been the most talked-about commercial of the campaign.

“Understands” stars Joe Soptic, who lost his wife to cancer after Bain shut down the factory he worked at and his family lost their health insurance. Republicans claimed the Obama campaign was accusing Romney of murder, ignoring the fact that Romney is running on taking health insurance away from 30 million Americans. The lack of health insurance does result in 26,000-45,000 deaths in America each year.

The Most Dishonest

Mitt Romney’s welfare ad “The Right Choice” will be remembered as the “Willie Horton” ad of the 2012 election. Every fact-checking organization that checked this ad found it false, as did the president who signed the law. The only point behind the false accusations seemed be the suggestion that “those people” don’t want to work and President Obama doesn’t want them to. The ad was highly effective in swing states but hasn’t been seen much since the convention, when the media questioned the Romney campaign about the ad intently.

The Morgan Freeman-est

It sounds like the end of The Shawshank Redemption, but it’s just one of America’s favorite actors telling us not to turn back now.

The Funniest

What’s the perfect soundtrack to point out Mitt Romney has spent much of his life shifting jobs and his money overseas? How about Mitt singing “America The Beautiful”? This ad stopped airing after sea mammals began beaching themselves.

The Ad That Drove Republicans Crazy

Republicans freaked at the idea of Girls star Lena Dunham vaguely comparing voting for the first time to sex. It’s a joke so raunchy and offensive that Ronald Reagan made it in 1980.

The Most Effective

Bill Clinton has a 65 percent approval rating, and he’s been the president’s most effective surrogate. In this ad he not only endorses the president’s plan for a second term, he turns the attacks on Obama against his opponents by reminding viewers that the same guys used to say terrible things about him.


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