Tuesday, April 22, 2014

PACs Try More Positive Ad Approach in 2014

Super PACs and other outside campaigners for candidates and causes, long masters of the attack ad, are now trying to "accentuate the positive," to borrow from the Mercer lyric. Even the conservative Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity is making an effort to show a sunnier side, according to a recent story by The New York Times. In fact, 16% of the Americans for Prosperity spots so far this year have been positive, compared with zero positive ads in 2012, the NYT reported. By another estimate, Karl Rove's American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, its affiliated nonprofit, have produced 29% of their ads with a positive spin to date, compared with just 1% for all of 2012. The NYT story cites a Kantar Media/CMAG estimate that 29% of all ads by outside groups have been positive this election cycle, compared with 20% at the same point in 2012. Political pundits provide several reasons for a shift to the positive so far this year: Negative campaigning actually is spawning positive ads, as PACs launch responses to other PAC attacks. Positive campaigning is also seen as useful early in the election cycle to help define a candidate for voters and provide some immunity to later critical broadcast spots. Some political strategists also cite lessons from 2012, when Mitt Romney's campaign failed to develop an effective counter to negative ads (Kantar Media estimates 62% of all spots about Romney were negative). For the whole story, see http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/18/us/politics/in-a-switch-some-campaign-ads-press-the-positive.html

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Digital Marketers See Bigger 2014 Election Impact

Digital marketers for both Republicans and Democrats unite on one theme: Digital as a deciding factor in the 2014 midterm elections. A key factor is the declining impact of TV, even though it still gets the lion's share of campaign ad budgets. Al Urbanski, senior editor of Direct Marketing News, recently reported that Targeted Victory, a Republican digital strategy team, and Well & Lighthouse, a Democratic digital support group, had teamed to poll likely voters and found that 29% hadn't even watched television in the previous week! Respondents reported spending an average of just 10.2 hours a week watching video content on TV, compared with 12.1 hours viewing content on alternative channels such as desktops, mobile devices and DVRs. The quoted conclusion of Targeted Victory's co-founder Zac Moffatt, who was the digital director for Mitt Romney's presidential bid: "You can't go into election day with one out of three voters not having seen your message and think you've done your job." Moffatt's strategy is to put more effort into high-end data analytics to deliver segmented, personalized digital messaging, with a tilt toward e-mail over social media since e-mail is a proven fundraising tool, along with direct mail, and is more scalable than social channels when it comes to response, reported Urbanski. For the full story, see http://www.dmnews.com/digital-marketing-prowess-could-sway-midterm-elections/article/341999/

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Will Super PACs Outspend Campaigns in Midterms?

Super PACs are on track to outspend political campaigns in terms of ad dollars for the first time in midterm elections. Elizabeth Wilner, senior VP at Kantar Media Ad Intelligence, is quoted by Advertising Age as predicting that "exponentially more" Super PAC money will be spent this year and that, for the first time, Super PACs will outspend campaigns. Kantar Media tallies that, from Jan. 1 to March 25, the Koch brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity already has aired 14,624 spots in nine Senate races, and the pro-Democrat Senate Majority PAC has aired 6,061 spots in six of those races. The catalyst for much of the Super PAC spending? Attacks on the Affordable Care Act. As a result, even though there are fewer tight races in expensive broadcast markets and fewer wealthy individual candidates on the campaign trails, broadcast ad spending should still edge up above the midterm spending of 2010, Kantar projects. For more on which races are likely to attract the most ad dollars, read http://adage.com/article/campaign-trail/super-pacs-outspend-political-campaigns-midterm/292377/

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Political Marketers Divided on TV vs. Digital Spending

One of the hot debates among political marketers has nothing to do with policy or candidate; it's about budgeting between traditional TV campaigning and digital media. A younger tech-savvy generation is urging a boost in e-mail, online ads and mobile messaging, while seasoned campaigners counter that TV advertising still draws the biggest single share of viewers, justifying its lion's share of spending. Recent data bolsters the digital fans to some extent: A new poll -- sponsored by Google, the Republican digital firm Targeted Victory and the Democratic agency Well & Lighthouse -- found that just 48% of those survey said live television was their primary source for video content (down from 56% in 2012). TV ads are losing ground to "new technologies," the poll found, with 41% of respondents regularly or occasionally using a tablet or smartphone while watching TV, and TV viewers reporting increased viewing of prerecorded programs that allow them to skip past ads. "That means, for political campaigns, reaching younger, more diverse swing voters through live TV advertising alone is problematic," concluded the pollsters in a report by The Wall Street Journal Capital Bureau. But amping up e-mail and mobile communications introduces new problems: Focus groups conducted by the same pollsters found participants were more likely to see campaign e-mails and mobile ads as invasions of personal space, while TV and online ads were seen as less intrusive. For the complete news story, see http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2014/03/20/should-campaigns-spend-less-on-tv-ads/

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Be Cautious of Skewed 2014 Midterm Polls

A recent National Journal article by Steven Shepard should caution political pundits and campaign strategists alike about relying too heavily on voter polls in this midterm election year. Democratic and Republican pollsters interviewed all agreed that most of the public surveys on the big 2014 congressional races are underestimating the level of Republican support, Shepard reports. That's because most public polls conducted for media outlets or by academics are surveying the entire universe of registered voters, voters who may not actually cast a ballot on Election Day. In fact, in the past few midterm elections, Democratic-leaning voters have not turned out at close to the same rates as those who typically back GOP candidates. Those who are likely to vote in midterm elections are older, white and more Republican, Shepard notes. In the 2006 and 2010 midterms, for example, 79% and 77% of voters, respectively, were white. In the 2008 and 2012 presidential election years, white voters dropped to 74% and 72% (a record low), respectively. Younger voters also drop off in midterm years. Voters under 30 made up 12% of the 2006 and 2010 midterm electorates, compared with 18% and 19% of the 2008 and 2012 presidential election voters, respectively. As an example of how this might mean that Republican candidates are in stronger midterm positions than public polls indicate, Shepard points out that the respected NBC/Wall Street Journal poll in October 2010 showed more registered voters favored a Congress controlled by Democrats, by a 2-point margin, yet Republicans scored a historic midterm landslide the survey didn't anticipate. The same survey this month again showed Democrats with a 2-point edge. The takeaway? The possibility of skewed midterm polling is a good reason for both parties to be cautious about strategic assumptions and to focus on partisan turnout. For more, see http://www.nationaljournal.com/politics/it-s-time-to-unskew-the-2014-election-polls-20140129

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Some Apologies Only Make the Scandal Worse

The 2014 election season has only just begun and already major political figures like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are struggling with that most difficult of political art forms: the apology. Hopefully, your campaign or cause will not have to deal with a political scandal, but, just in case, it may be instructive to look at some disastrous political apologies (or non-apologies). Courtesy of Mother Jones, you can test your political memory to see whether you can match the apology with the scandal and the offending politico. You may quickly recognize gems such as "We would all have to say that mistakes were made in terms of comments," uttered by Nixon Press Secretary Ron Ziegler regarding Watergate. The examples of infamous apologies are quite numerous, so we haven't given away much of the quiz. See if you can laugh, and learn, from these real political bumbles! To take the quiz, go to http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/01/quiz-match-political-scandal-apology

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

GOP Governors Outpace Dems in Dollars for 2014

The Republican Governors Association (RGA) is heading into the 36 governor races of 2014 with significantly more dollars than its Democratic counterpart. According to totals released in January of this year, the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) raised about $28 million in 2013 across its three committees. The RGA announced that it raised $50.3 million in 2013 through its 527 committee, and another $2.2 million through an affiliated nonprofit, per a story in Politico. That brings the RGA's total cash haul to $52.5 million in 2013, or nearly double what Democrats raised. Both organizations are permitted to take unlimited corporate and individual contributions and consist of a super PAC, a nonprofit and a 527 group, with most of the funds spent through the 527 organizations. Democratic dollars are likely to go toward defeating GOP incumbents in states that President Barack Obama carried in 2012. The Politico story reports DGA top targets include Maine Gov. Paul LePage, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Meanwhile, the RGA will likely seek to fund victory in Illinois, Massachusetts and Arkansas, as well as uphill battles against Democratic incumbents in Colorado, Connecticut and New Hampshire, according to Politico. The RGA's bigger war chest does not necessarily ensure success, however. In the only competitive gubernatorial race of 2013 in Virginia, the RGA edged the DGA in spending, but the Democrats’ candidate Terry McAuliffe defeated the GOP's Ken Cuccinelli. For the story, go to http://www.politico.com/story/2014/01/rga-dga-fundraising-2013-102883.html