Experts on political advertising have speculated on the strategy that has prompted fwd.us to fund an ad that, at first glance, seems completely unrelated to the immigration debate.
Donald Green, a professor of political science at Columbia University, said that the advertisement likely aims to bolster support for politicians on the fence about immigration.
The boost, Green added, may give elected representatives a "cushion" to risk political capital on a vote to support immigration reform. It could also win the gratitude of politicians like Manchin.
Sides noted that the nondescript content and phrases from the ad also reflect a calculated political decision. He said political strategists often use ambiguous rhetoric that can sometimes create a boost for a candidate.
"Ambiguity allows candidates to say unobjectionable things. Who doesn't support working families?" Sides said. "It may also allow voters to project their own meaning onto ambiguous phrases, thereby leading them to believe the candidate agrees with them."
Those ambiguous phrases therefore attempt to persuade voters to support a candidate, but not the underlying issue: immigration reform.
"The ad is less about convincing the public to support a policy and more about convincing them to support the lawmaker who voted in favor of fwd.us's preferred policy," Kondik said.
The organization has implemented a similar strategy nationwide to boost support for candidates who have backed immigration reform despite party affiliations.
The conservative branch of fwd.us aired an ad that praised Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., for voting for the Keystone XL pipeline. Another ad lauded Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, for supporting further oil drilling.
The Republican and Democratic senators both supported immigration reform.
Kondik noted that other third party groups have backed candidates on both sides of the aisle. The American Chemistry Council, for example, has run ads that back Republican Senator Mitch McConnell and Democratic Senators Kay Hagan and Tom Udall.
Yet few organizations have provoked the same level of controversy that fwd.us has generated.
Some Silicon Valley donors have voiced concerns about advertising campaigns bankrolled by fwd.us. Many donors were particularly incensed over the advertisements that discussed drilling and the pipeline, which they vehemently opposed.
Some severed ties to the organization. Elon Musk, co-founder of PayPal and chairman of Tesla Motors, withdrew support from the organization over the Keystone ads, citing environmental concerns.