Midterm campaign ads offer personal messages that go deeper than the issues

Candidates offer ads with intimate messages
Candidates offer ads with intimate messages 03:40

Catchy tunes and scare tactics don't cut it anymore. This year the air war hits closer to home, as Americans head to the polls two weeks from Tuesday. Many midterm candidates are trying a new approach this year, opening up to voters in intensely personal ads that go deeper than the issues.

Surely some of you are still seeing attack ads, but increasingly, candidates aren't just tugging on voter' heartstrings – they're yanking, reports CBS News correspondent Ed O'Keefe.

"We learned our oldest has a rare chronic disease, a pre-existing condition. We know what that's like," Missouri Senate candidate Josh Hawley says in his campaign ad.

More intimate ads, more often from women candidates – even revealing baby bumps and breastfeeding.

"Some say no man can beat Larry Hogan. Well, I'm no man," Krish Vignarajah says while breastfeeding. Vignarajah is a Democrat running for governor of Maryland.  

It doesn't work for everyone, but the goal is to go viral, get more money and win – like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, running for New York's 14th congressional district. She's a former bartender who beat a 10-term incumbent with the help of her ad.

"This race is about people versus money," Ocasio-Cortez says in her midterm campaign ad.

There is Texas Air Force vet MJ Hegar, whose take on doors helped her breakthrough. "One of my first memories was of a door, but it was my dad throwing my mom through a glass one," Hegar said in her ad.

"You don't want to make something that looks like a typical political ad. Those don't work," said Mark Putnam, whose team was behind the "doors" ad. They also created others including Amy McGrath's.

They are powerful, personal messages, with some shot on iPhones.

Most of this year's standout ads are by Democrats, but some are by Republicans like Ron DeSantis who's running for Florida governor as a family man.

Brian Kemp, GOP candidate for Georgia governor, takes aim in his ad at his daughter's boyfriend.

"Two things if you're gonna date one of my daughters," Kemp says.

"Respect," the boyfriend says.


"A healthy appreciation for the Second Amendment, sir," he responds.

"People are thirsting for authenticity. They're looking for people that they can relate to and that they can believe in," Putnam said.

Given that there are so many competitive congressional races this year, ad buyers estimate that political ad spending will nearly match the almost $3 billion spent on campaign commercials during the 2016 presidential election. While this style of advertising is especially popular on social media, most of these ads are still airing primarily on local TV.