This Is Not a Welcome Trend.

If you're living where there's a contested election or two, you're probably getting a lot of mailers from candidates. Maybe you don't like them, but it isn't that big a deal -- give it a glance, toss it in the recycling. But just you wait.

Yesterday I noted an article in The New York Times discussing how some experiments have shown that prompting people to feel disgust -- say by showing them something gross or even just putting them next to a container of hand sanitizer, which prompts them to think of germs -- can push people to support conservative candidates. That article discussed a mailer New York governor candidate Carl Paladino sent during his primary that smelled of garbage, to demonstrate the corruption in Albany (or something). Well Van Tran, a Republican candidate for Congress in California, must have heard about it:

Republican Van Tran, the upstart challenger to Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), is betting on voters sniffing out his opponent's struggles -- literally.

Tran is sending out a scratch-and-sniff direct mail piece attacking Sanchez that features a hideous odor emanating from it.

Much like magazine perfume advertisements, the mailer says, "Open for a fragrance sample of "Loretta, The Scent Of Washington."

On the inside of mailer, the piece says, "Something smells rotten about Loretta. It's the stench of Washington." Below that is the scratch and sniff panel.

A GOP source who experienced the Eau de Sanchez put it this way: "It is a horrible odor, like the combination of the five or six worst possible scents you can imagine."

I'm not afraid to say it: That is just wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

-- Paul Waldman

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