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The Best and Worst Campaign Ads of 2018
House and Senate ads that made us laugh, cry and cringe

West Virginia’s Don Blankenship lost his bid for the Republican Senate nomination. (Screenshot/Blankenship for Congress/YouTube)

The best (or worst) part of following campaigns — depending on your perspective — is watching all the ads. TV spots from campaigns and outside groups have flooded the airwaves this year, beginning with the primaries this spring. 

We’re not judging which ones have been most effective, which were most inaccurate or most offensive. And we’re excluding the biopic viral videos that have raised so much money for Democratic candidates. (For the most part, these lengthy videos didn’t run on TV in full.)

You Don’t Know Them, But You May Know Their Voices
Political voiceover actors are on call right up to Election Day

Kathryn Klvana has recorded voiceovers for Democratic independent expenditure ads in Virginia's 10th District, similar to the one above against GOP Rep. Barbara Comstock. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Even in the final days of the campaign, Sheldon Smith is a busy man.

A phone call to his cell on Wednesday first went to voicemail. The recording left no mistaking it was the right number; it was the voice of a someone who talks for a living. 

The North Carolina Race That Wasn’t Supposed to Be in Play
GOP Rep. George Holding faces his toughest re-election — in a district drawn for his party

Rep. George Holding, R-N.C., is running for re-election for the first time with a Republican in the White House. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

NASHVILLE, N.C. — Rep. George Holding didn’t have time to finish his beer.

The North Carolina Republican made a last-minute appearance at the local Chamber of Commerce’s Fall Shrimp, Oyster and Chicken Fest here Thursday night. But after 20 minutes of schmoozing at the entrance of the Rose Hill Plantation, it was time to push on to the opening of a county GOP headquarters about 20 minutes away. 

Final Push From NARAL to Fire Up Abortion Rights Voters
Announces $750,000 in direct mail and digital ads targeting most reliable supporters in swing districts

Groups like NARAL want to make sure voters engaged by opposition to the confirmation of Associate Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh actually get out to vote. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

With voters already casting ballots in states that allow early voting, outside advocacy groups are not just trying to reach potential new voters — they’re working to make sure their most ardent supporters actually show up.

That is certainly the case with NARAL, which is announcing a final push to make sure that the abortion rights group’s supporters get out to vote in 2018.

Just How Average Are the Average Voters in Campaign Ads?
There are no rules about disclosing who appears in campaign commercials

Air Force veteran Andrew Marschall, second from right, appears in an ad for North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer’s bid for Senate. What the ad doesn’t mention is that Marschall is a Republican state legislator. (Screenshot Kevin Cramer for Senate/YouTube)

Turn on any TV across America over the next two weeks, and there’s likely to be people talking into the camera about how wonderful or how awful a particular candidate is.

The face-to-camera testimonial from so-called regular people is a staple of campaign advertising.

GOP Super PAC Goes on Attack in Rural Virginia District
Democrat Cockburn has 3Q financial advantage over GOP’s Riggleman

Democrat Leslie Cockburn is running for the open seat in Virginia’s 5th District. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A super PAC tied to House Republican leadership is going on the air in Virginia’s 5th District, where the GOP nominee for the open seat is being outspent by the Democrat. 

Congressional Leadership Fund is debuting a new ad Wednesday in the Roanoke media market that will run through Election Day. The ad, shared first with Roll Call, seeks to contrast Republican Denver Riggleman and Democratic nominee Leslie Cockburn. The Washington Post first reported Tuesday that CLF was investing in the district. 

GOP Ads Target Young Female Voters on Violence Against Women Act
Winning for Women is behind ads touting Comstock, McSally and Walters

GOP Rep. Barbara Comstock is running for a third term in Virginia’s 10th District. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

An outside group dedicated to electing Republican women is launching digital ads urging three lawmakers to support reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which is set to expire in December.

The digital ads, obtained first by Roll Call, target Reps. Mimi Walters of California and Barbara Comstock of Virginia — both facing tough re-elections — and Rep. Martha McSally of Arizona, who’s running for Senate.

Bob Casey Pulls Ad After Barletta’s Emotional Appeal
Ad that slams Barletta on votes to repeal health care law will still play statewide except in his home market

While Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. Bob Casey’s campaign said he has included a constituent’s story of her children’s fight with cancer in speeches for years, he said he would pull an ad that strikes close to home for Republican challenger Rep. Lou Barletta in his hometown market. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Democratic Sen. Bob Casey has pulled a television ad from his opponent’s home market, giving in to criticism from Republican Rep. Lou Barletta that the family in the ad too closely resembles his own personal troubles.

The ad hit Barletta on his vote for the American Health Care Act during Republicans’ prolonged effort to roll back the 2010 health care law last year. The ad accurately states that the AHCA would have weakened protections for patients with pre-existing conditions, but Barletta took issue with the ad’s parallels to his family.

Porter Knocks Walters on GOP Tax Overhaul in Joint TV Ad With DCCC
Walters voted for the bill, while some other California Republicans opposed it

California Democrat Katie Porter is challenging GOP Rep. Mimi Walters in the 45th District. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

California Democrat Katie Porter is going on offense against Republican Rep. Mimi Walters, launching a new television ad highlighting the congresswoman’s support for last year’s GOP tax overhaul and tying her to President Donald Trump. 

Walters, who’s in her second term representing California’s 45th District,  backed the GOP tax measure, which some of her fellow Golden State Republicans opposed because it limited the deductions for state and local taxes. And now Porter is highlighting that vote in a negative spot, which is a joint ad with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

GOP Ad Defends Rep. David Joyce on Health Care Protections
Ad doubles down on strategy to run Republican as health care centrist

Rep. David Joyce, R-Ohio, who has voted with his party multiple times to repeal the 2010 health care law, is depicted as a centrist on the issue in an ad released Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A group supporting Rep. David Joyce is releasing an ad Tuesday touting the Ohio Republican’s commitment to “protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions.”

The $125,000 ad buy from Defending Main Street, the political arm of the Republican Main Street Partnership, doubles down on Joyce’s campaign strategy of painting the candidate as an independent voice who has bucked his party on health care and who has “stood up to President Trump.”