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See the very optimistic new campaign ads for Measure M

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Metro's transit-expanding ballot measure will "change your life"

With the November election less than a month away, supporters of Measure M, Metro’s proposed half-cent sales tax increase to fund future transit projects, have released a series of ads promoting the ballot initiative. The Yes on M Campaign, an independent coalition of Measure M backers, rolled out the four TV spots over the weekend, trying to making a quick impact on voters just in time for the arrival of vote by mail ballots.

Produced by Democratic consultant Bill Carrick, the ads present a nuanced and thoughtful look at the possible benefits of the measure’s approval. Just kidding. These are campaign ads. Turns out, Measure M will "change your life." So says the soothing-voiced narrator in two of the ads, anyway.

We’d argue that the free advertising that Measure M has gotten from several amateur cartographers who have created maps illustrating how much the initiative could expand LA’s transit network are more enticing than any conventional political ad, but the measure’s supporters are trying to appeal to a wide range of voters—some of whom may not consider a widened menu of transit options worth the higher prices.

Naturally, then, one of the main points of emphasis in the videos is Measure M’s potential to cut down on traffic in the LA area. That’s a contentious claim, but one TV spot goes so far as to promise a 15 percent reduction in commute times if the initiative is approved.

That number may be a bit misleading. It comes from a Cambridge Systematics study on Metro’s plan that found that by 2057, commutes for county residents would be 15 percent shorter than they are likely to be if voters reject Measure M. So, yes, traffic will improve, but it’s going to take quite a while, and it will be an improvement over a hypothetical analysis of how bad it could have been.

Another ad focuses on the economic effects of the ballot measure, pointing to an estimate from Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation that the measure could create more than 465,000 new jobs.

The ads represent one of the first major expenditures by the Yes on M campaign. According to the Los Angeles Times, the campaign had spent less than five percent of the $4.4 million in contributions it had received as of September 24. Yes on M spokesperson Yusef Robb tells Curbed that most of that money will be spent on advertising in the final weeks before the election.