Is this really one of the best political ads of the last 20 years?

A campaign film for prospective mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio featuring his mixed-race son has been described by New York Post columnist John Podhoretz as "one of the best political ads of the past 20 years".

The right-wing commentator suggests in his column that de Blasio's electoral surge has little to do with the candidate's liberal credentials and everything to do with demonstrating to New York's black voters that he is - at one level - one of them.

But is this low-key film really responsible for de Blasio's meteoric rise in the polls? And does it deserve to considered one of the great pieces of political communication?

The answer to the first question is a cautious 'yes' as de Blasio's rating rose dramatically in the three weeks after the spot was broadcast and it obviously had an impact.

The caution comes from a wider examination of the race to be named the Democratic candidate in the mayoral election later this year... a pot-pourri of underwhelming political figures have been jostling for position and the electorate's response has been pretty flighty.

When the vaguely charismatic Anthony Weiner (aka Carlos Danger) joined the fray in June, he shot immediately into the lead before it emerged that his exhibitionist tendencies had once again led him to expose more than his political ideas to the electorate and his poll ratings went into free fall.

We'll have to wait and see whether Bill de Blasio becomes mayor before deciding whether the film featuring his son is - as Podhoretz contends - one of the great pieces of political communication, because it's hard to believe it'll stick in the memory unless de Blasio actually wins.

After all, it's more significant for its symbolism than for anything that's said in it. Even though its 'dog whistle' is echoing around New York and has led - irony of ironies - to de Blasio facing accusations of racism from Mayor Bloomberg, if you strip the film of this context it's remarkably unremarkable.

The real story here is that a white candidate may have found favour with a sizeable part of the electorate because he has a black wife. How that was communicated is probably neither here or there.

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