Of all the ads to have aired this presidential campaign, one of the most successful may have been one of the least remarked-upon.
Weeks ago, Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund released a 60-second spot titled "Brutal," denouncing Gov. Sarah Palin's support for an aerial wolf killing program as well as a policy that places bounties on the forelegs of killed wolves. It was, according to trackers of voter responses, one of the most effective ads of the cycle.
It also earned the organization $600,000 in donations in the six hours after it was released, and more than $1 million overall. With the extra funds, the organization is now plowing money back into its advertisement.
On Wednesday, the wildlife group will announce that they are expanding the airing of its ad to additional swing states - a measure meant to correspond with Thursday's vice presidential debate. The ad is currently airing in Florida, Michigan, Ohio and Northern Virginia; voters in Colorado and Missouri will soon see it also.
"Defenders of Wildlife has found a more effective critique of Palin than the Obama campaign or Democratic Party," said a source with the organization. "The ad damages Palin with exactly the voters McCain put her on the ticket to attract -- suburban women, moderate Independents."
The group's initial spot scored incredibly well among focus groups. A study of 312 Democrats, Republicans and Independents showed that the ad produced "moderate movement among all parties" in Obama's favor. The spot earned a Political Communications Impact Score of 23.5, making it, according to the site Media Curves, the second most effective ad to have aired this cycle.
And unlike many presidential campaign ads this cycle, the claims made in the Defenders spot are virtually all true, albeit with some caveats, according to FactCheck.org.
"Aerial killing of wolves may not be your standard national election issue, but it is one that helps illuminate an important part of Sarah Palin's character," President of Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund Rodger Schlickeisen said in a statement. "We believe voters deserve to know about her support for this brutal practice, and we are confident the issue can move votes as we head into the home stretch of this campaign."