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Political attack ads poised to flood Quad City airwaves

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With less than 100 days to go until the November election, your phone lines and airwaves are about to be inundated with political pitches. And although most people will say they don't like all the attack ads, don't expect them to stop anytime soon.

Wednesday, a new attack ad focused on Iowa's Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst hit Quad City airwaves. The spot comes from NextGen Climate, a Super PAC funded by environmentalist Tom Steyer, and takes aim at potential GOP ties to special interests.

"They're very unattractive, diabolical-looking characters, basically describing Joni Ernst as someone who's literally in their back pocket," said Dr. Stephen Klien, an Augustana professor of communication studies.

And Klien says more ads are likely on the way, especially in Iowa.

"Out-of-state money is pouring into Iowa for the Iowa Senate race," said Klien.

That focus comes as no surprise to Scott County Republicans, who call that Iowa Senate race "very, very important."

"This is an historic election for the state of Iowa that could also determine whether or not the Republicans take over the US Senate," said Judy Davidson, chair of the Scott County Republican Party.

Republican Joni Ernst is taking on Democrat Bruce Braley, both vying for a seat that has long been held by Democratic Senator Tom Harkin. The latest numbers from Real Clear Politics have Ernst and Braley nearly tied, with Ernst leading Braley by just .8 percent.

"This race has not been open, I believe for 30 years. So, whoever Iowans elect might likely be in that spot for a long time," said Davidson.

Those sentiments are echoed at the Scott County Democratic offices.

"I think off-year elections, people tend to say, 'Oh well, it isn't important.' But every election is important," said volunteer Pat Drucken Miller.

And that means the attack ads are likely here to stay.

"Even though they're run all the time, and in public opinion poll after poll, citizens say that they don't like attack ads, they prefer more positive messages.... lots of research verifies time and again that attack ads tend to work," said Klien.

Klien says the purpose of political ads, especially at this stage of an election, is to make sure a candidate is identifiable, as well as to establish their legitimacy in a bid for office.