Most political ads are deadly boring. But in every election cycle, there are a few campaigns that get creative. The result: quirky, compelling, or surreal ads that may or may not move the polls but are fun to watch either way. Here are six ads worth watching from the election campaign that ended today.
1) "Squeal" (Joni Ernst, Republican for Senate, Iowa)
"I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm," Joni Ernst says. You can guess how the rest of the ad goes. "Washington's full of big spenders," she says. "Let's make them squeal."
Ernst, a Republican, is running ahead of Democrat Bruce Braley in a competitive race.
2) "Trust" (Monica Wehby, Republican for Senate, Oregon)
Testimonials from voters are a common type of campaign ad, but few are as compelling as this one. Republican Monica Wehby is a pediatric neruosurgeon challenging Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley. In the ad, Lexi Llebelt describes how Wehby operated on her daughter, who was born with a congenital spinal cord defect.
"I gave her the most precious thing I had. I trusted her," Llebelt said. "Dr. Wehby would make an incredible senator." But most Oregon voters don't seem convinced. Merkley is leading in the polls by more than 10 points.
3) "Polar Ice" (Mark Begich, Democrat for Senate, Alaska)
In this ad, Begich seeks to associate himself with a quintessential Alaska pastime — driving snow machines across the frozen landscape — while touting his independence from the Democratic establishment. "I fought for five years to get the permits so we could drill under this ice," Begich says. "And we won."
Republicans responded with an ad featuring snow machine stunt driver Cory Davis, who supports Republican Dan Sullivan. "Begich acts like Mr. Alaskan when he wants our vote. But the truth he votes with Obama and his DC friends, not Alaska. I'm tired of the phony politicians and Mark Begich's lame tricks."
The polls show Sullivan with a narrow lead over Begich.
4) "Gary Peters Loan Sharknado" (Michigan Republican Party)
The 2014 campaign has had a number of strange ads, but this low-budget head-scratcher might be the weirdest of all. Produced by the Michigan Republican Party, the ad depicts Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI) being pursued by a "loan sharknado," a cartoon tornado with dollars and sharks flying out of it.
The ad seeks to link Peters to campaign contributions from convicted felon Xhafer Laho, though the Peters campaign says it has returned the donations. The ads don't seem to have done the trick; Peters has enjoyed a wide lead over Republican Terri Lynn Land in recent polls.
5) "Jenny Sanford Opens Up About Mark" (Ginny Deerin, Demcorat for Secretary of State, South Carolina)
Jenny Sanford is the ex-wife of Mark Sanford, the South Carolina Congressman and former governor whose infidelity made "hiking the Appalachian Trail" a sexual euphemism.
In this ad, Jenny Sanford dishes to Deerin about "Mark." "To be honest, I always thought when Mark said he was going to work that he was actually going to the office. It seems that I was scammed." At the end of the interview, we learn that she's talking about Deerin's opponent, Mark Hammond, not her ex-husband.
6) "Turtle Soup" (Dwayne Stovall, Republican for Senate, Texas)
In an ad supporting an unsuccessful primary challenge, Dwayne Stovall accused Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) of making decisions to "please some guy that looks and fights like a turtle" — that is, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
"I'm a Texan. We Texans don't need a Beltway turtle telling us how to fight," Stovall continues. The ad concludes with a bit of surrealism, as a voice-over has Stovall's dog add "I like turtle soup."
Stovall lost to Cornyn in the Republican primary, and Cornyn is expected to crush his Democratic opponent tonight.