Those "Godless" ads deployed by losing incumbent U.S. Sen. Liddy Dole (R, N.C.), did not cost her the race with Kay Hagan, as was widely theorized at election time. Or so argues Dole campaign manager Marty Ryall in Politics Magazine:
Many in the media, especially on the liberal side, were quick to point to the ad and claim it backﬁred, costing Dole the election. Nothing could be further from the truth. When a football team is trailing by 7 points and throws a “Hail Mary” on the last play of the game, they don’t lose because they failed to complete the play, they lose because they were down 7 points and time was running out.
By his account, the ads had nothing to do with religion or faith. They had everything to do with rational, poll-driven campaign strategy. The Dole team had the material, poor though it was. They were losing. They were in the final days of the campaign. They needed a "game changer." Something with shock value that would command media attention:
The “Godless PAC” issue was all we had that could possibly achieve that in the short time remaining. We knew that Hagan would have to respond to the ad. We anticipated her response would be that we were attacking her faith; clearly she could not defend attending the event. So we prepared two ads. The ﬁrst on the Godless issue, and the second—that would run when her response aired—that we were not attacking her faith, but her judgment.
He excuses the ads' flaws, dismissing without serious consideration the idea that they falsely attacked the faith of a Presbyterian lay leader and saying there was no intent to fake her voice saying "there is no God" in a voiceover. He portrays the latter as the single tactical error of an attack that had no apparent effect on the election's outcome:
Our last tracking poll on the Thursday before the election had us down 8 points and virtually no one was mentioning the Godless issue.
His only regret is that the strategy failed.