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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- He doesn't have a serious opponent yet, but that's not keeping U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell from waging a political advertising war.
Much of that war is now being fought online. In fact, McConnell's latest ad has gone viral, topping one million views. It is slickly produced, with stirring music and a Hollywood movie-trailer feel.
But you can only see Mitch McConnell's latest ad, called "The American Ideal," online. More than one million people have viewed the two-minute video since it was released less than a week ago.
"It's unprecedented. There's something special going on. We think that it's a combination of a good effort on our campaign, combined with really poignant content," said McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton.
The ad illustrates the growing importance of the new media in politics. U of L professor Jason Gainous has literally written the book on the subject. He calls the production level of the new McConnell ad, "outstanding."
Gainous says the ad is designed to appeal to a wide-range, from minorities to Tea Partiers. "What this does I think is send a signal to sort of scare off the opposition. It's a powerful commercial that reaches out to these audiences," he said.
Gainous says online media have become essential to campaigns: "It's inexpensive. The cost to run that ad on television would be unbelievable."
"In dollars, you're still going to see traditional media sucking up more dollars," said Benton. "As far as how we're actually moving voters, it's dead even."
With the explosion of Twitter and Facebook, campaign messages can spread almost instantly. "It's very simple to just put these links up on Facebook, and people will share it. It will go over and over, and that's how it goes viral," said Gainous.
This is McConnell's second online-only ad, but he has also purchased time for two traditional TV commercials. And the election is still 18 months away.