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Virginia Senate: how Tim Kaine survived a record barrage of attack ads

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About these ads

“A lot of these negative ads, after a while, after millions and millions of dollars are spent – there’s nothing new,” said Mike Henry, Kaine’s campaign manager, on the conference call. “And also on the Allen side, he has a record and a reputation as well. People know these guys; they aren’t new to Virginia."

Republicans, too, weren’t surprised that seemingly endless campaign spending had little effect.

“It doesn’t surprise me that the numbers literally haven’t moved,” said Jason Miyares, a veteran Republican consultant in the Old Dominion. “You have two former governors with high name ID and are broadly well known.... These are not unknown, undefined candidates.”

Overall, the race hit a record with more than $82 million in spending. The previous most expensive race in Senate history? North of $59 million spent in 2010’s Connecticut Senate race, which featured a self-funding multimillionaire, Republican Linda McMahon.

So with millions of dollars in attack ads from both sides bouncing off the candidates, what made the difference in Virginia?

Many experts argued the race would closely track the presidential contest, as a flood of advertising and attention from President Obama and Mitt Romney swamped attention. That certainly happened, Virginia political analysts say.

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