Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Midterm Wooing of Millennials Has Key Takeaways

Midterm campaigns have been working hard to woo millennials. The importance of the demographic target is clear: Those born between 1981 and the early 2000s now make up a quarter of the U.S. population, and roughly 45 million are eligible to vote. But millennials are also a hard-to-reach, easy-to-alienate cohort. A recent AdWeek article asked political marketing experts for takeaways from recent efforts to win millennial support. To appeal to this tech-centric, channel-agnostic and social media-obsessed generation, campaigns need to marry the right platforms with the right content, the experts advised. As far as marketing platforms, the stress is on a digital, "multiscreen" approach; a recent survey found that 30% of millennials use four or more digital communications devices daily, and the overall group checks mobile phones an average of 40 times per day. And when it comes to content, relevant, entertaining and informative messaging is critical. Experts interviewed by AdWeek warned that pitches not only need to be laser-focused to match millennials’ ideals and interests but must come across as sincere; millennials will spurn anything that smacks of hype, histrionics, hard sell, preaching or scare tactics. But perhaps one of the biggest challenges for campaigners is this demographic's distrust of politics and politicians. For example, a recent Reason-Rupe survey found that 66% of millennials believe government is inefficient and wasteful, and 60% think it abuses its powers. As a result, campaigns have gained by focusing on issues and values over party affiliation. Rob Shepardson, co-founder and partner in the creative agency SS+K, summed up: "Millennials will align with somebody regardless of political labels based on values. Communicate through issues, not through the candidate. Negative ads and politics-as-usual can turn millennials off. They are quite shrewd when it comes to marketing. You need to get to a point or a benefit that matters to them." For examples of recent campaign efforts that worked, or failed, to win over millennials, see the article: http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/tapping-millennial-political-and-social-passions-ahead-midterm-elections-160563

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Midterm Lesson: Web Ad Space Isn't Unlimited

Political campaigners are learning a surprise lesson in the midterm election battles: Premium space on the web is not infinite. Late-comers to the increasingly crowded digital space are finding that they've missed all the tastiest spots for video and display ads. A recent story in The New York Times underscored that savvy political players now must make pre-emptive strikes to ensure ad placement when and where it matters most. Online video spots are especially hot, and there are two main types: those a viewer can skip after just a few seconds, and “reserved buy” ads that run in their entirety before another video begins. The ads that can be skipped are unlimited but sold by auction so the price goes up as demand increases closer to Election Day. The ads that cannot be skipped, those that viewers are forced to watch for all 15 or 30 seconds before they can see content from their original search, are limited. Campaigns are hurrying to reserve this video ad type in advance to lock in a good price and ensure prominent display. Video ad space on popular sites like YouTube, Hulu, Yahoo and top news outlets is in short supply; there is already almost no remaining YouTube inventory for reserve buys in some very competitive races, the New York Times reports. Banner ads and home-page takeovers, in which ads from a particular buyer are the only ones prominently displayed on a website’s home page, are also being scooped up fast. “Smart campaigns book early, the same way that smart brands book television early,” Andrew Bleeker, the president of Bully Pulpit Interactive, a Democratic digital marketing company, told the NYT. “We reserve most of the inventory for our clients in the spring to make sure something like this isn’t a factor.” For the complete article, go to http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/12/us/campaigns-find-ad-space-finite-even-on-the-web.html?_r=0

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Political Ads Grab 20% of Sept. Cable TV Spend

With $1 of every $5 spent on cable TV advertising in September dedicated to political ads, at least per independent cable ad rep firm Viamedia, cable fans are seeing their usual beer and insurance ads pushed aside by midterm election messages this year. As reported recently by The Fix. The Washington Post political blog, the share of political ad revenue is way up this year in Viamedia stats -- compare September's 20.5% share for political ads with the 13% share of four years ago -- and still growing. Why the cable blitz? Viamedia theorized to The Fix that not only has easing of campaign finance restrictions pulled more money into political ad spending but also that data technology for cost-effective, narrow targeting of cable audience, especially geo-targeting, is drawing dollars away from broadcast. As proof of the current tightly targeted TV ad effort, Viamedia notes that just 16 channels comprise 92% of its political ad revenue in 2014. To see the cable networks leading in political ad share across 30 Viamedia markets, check out http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2014/10/08/1-of-every-5-spent-on-cable-tv-ads-in-september-was-political-per-one-firm/

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

GOP Ads Pick 'Big Bang"; Dems Like 'Big Brother'

Midterm elections are bonanzas for local TV stations, but there's been little hard data on political ad placement and targeting, Thanks to The Washington Post, we now have some more insight into where Republicans, Democrats and Independents are putting their TV ad dollars. A research team, as reported by Philip Bump of The Post's The Fix political blog, looked at 6,000 online filings with the Federal Communications Commission by local TV stations on behalf of Senate candidates during the period from Aug. 1 though the fourth week in September (including October ad buys). No surprise, Bump reveals that the most popular shows for political ad placement had the word "news" in the title (64,000 mentions in the 6,000 filings), followed by citing of the "Today" show. For daytime viewers, Dr. Phil was the most Republican talk show choice, while fans of Steve Harvey and Ellen DeGeneres were less likely GOP ad targets. Independents were more likely to post ads on game shows, while Democrats dominated the Hollywood gossip space. Late-night TV, with its younger audience, was also favored by Democrats, while Republicans were more likely to reach out with Sunday ads, especially on "Fox News Sunday," of course. But the prime-time TV ad face-off is where the big money goes. Political hopefuls across the spectrum vie for time during football games since it is the sport that leads in viewership. Bump's review also found Republicans more likely to place ads on "Big Bang Theory," while Democrats favored ads on "Scandal" and "Big Brother." Even reruns got their share of political wooing; the venerable "Andy Griffith Show" was a GOP pick, for example. For more, read http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2014/09/29/republicans-advertise-on-the-big-bang-theory-democrats-buy-ads-on-big-brother/

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Dumb, Data-Driven Fundraising E-mail Backfires

Denny Hatch, successful political fundraiser and direct marketer, recently posted a rant against Democrats in Target Marketing magazine. Why? Because he received three almost identical Democratic fundraising e-mails in the space of six hours. Not only did the delivery overkill annoy him, but all the e-mails begged for money without a hint of issues, policy stakes or personalized reasons/benefits likely to trigger a positive response. The data-driven digital marketing appeals reduced him to a statistic in a way he found insulting to his intelligence and to the basics of good marketing practice. (Before dismissing his criticism as partisan, note that he claims to have voted for President Obama--twice.) Hatch urges political fundraisers to consider why"old-fashioned" direct mail fundraising continues to be successful -- including "incorporating many collateral benefits into a pitch for money" and use of standard offer/pricing/testing to develop a winning response package. Hatch isn't anti-digital; he just wants digital done right. "If offer/price/testing works in direct mail, it will work in e-commerce," he asserts. Our takeaway: Take a hard look at your digital fundraising to make sure you aren't creating more rants than responses from donors. To see samples of the e-mails that earned Hatch's ire, go to his post in Target Marketing magazine at http://www.targetmarketingmag.com/article/denny-s-daily-zinger-dithering-dippy-despicable-democrats/1

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Are Weak Mobile Efforts Hurting 2014 Campaigns?

Investing in digital and social media advertising is a basic for most campaigns and causes today. But are they paying enough attention to the mobile face of their efforts? A recent post for Streetwise Media's InTheCapital argues that many campaigns in the 2014 midterm races are missing out on votes and donation dollars because of weak mobile strategies. Post author Tess VandenDolder notes that too many political mobile sites are still slow and glitchy, with tiny hard-to-read text. Plus, volunteer and donation sign-ups require clicking on multiple links and filling out complex forms. That poor mobile experience can really undermine success, she asserts, because campaigns get roughly 50% of their online traffic today from mobile sites. Why haven't more campaigns followed in the footsteps of the 2012 Obama campaign's "Quick Donate" process, which accounted for $3 million in donations alone? It sent supporters text message solicitations and allowed prior donors to donate again with just the click of a link, since personal information was already saved in the system. VandenDolder posits that one reason current campaigns still lag in mobile development is quite simply the cost: An excellent mobile site can cost $12,000 to $16,000, she notes, which is a big chunk of change for smaller campaigns, especially for an effort that may be obsolete after the election. But in a time when mobile is ubiquitous, the return on investment is significant, and campaigns should think twice about leaving so much on the table by tossing away their mobile card. To read the complete article, go to http://inthecapital.streetwise.co/2014/09/11/political-campaigns-still-just-dont-understand-mobile-and-are-losing-money-because-of-it/

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Top GOP Data Firms Partner for Midterm Campaigns

Leading Republican data firms are joining forces ahead of the midterm elections, a testing ground for 2016 strategies in data-driven campaigning. According to a recent Advertising Age story, the two most prominent voter-data companies on the right, the Data Trust and i360, plan to align their databases, allowing clients using either system to tap into some of the same information about voters. The goals of Data Trust and i360 list exchange agreements are both to reduce data duplication through the partnership and to create a new ability for campaigns to access updated information via either company's system. Beyond refreshed addresses and phone numbers, the firms regularly update voter profile information, such as issues that interest particular voters, how much voters have donated, whether voters have volunteered for a campaign, etc. However, details on which data points will be shared -- such as the voter scores that the Republican National Committee (RNC) uses to quantify likelihood of voting Republican -- were not divulged to Advertising Age reporters. Meanwhile, Democrats show no signs of integrating the databases of the two main providers of data to the left -- NGP VAN and Catalist. This means that when an organization on the left, such as Planned Parenthood, works with Catalist, the updated information it filters back to that database is not also shared with the Democratic National Committee (DNC) voter file managed by NGP VAN. Instead, the DNC seems to be moving to make "The VAN" its official data platform for centralizing development of apps, ad platforms and analytics software, according to the article. For the full story, go to http://adage.com/article/campaign-trail/republican-data-firms-agree-voter-data-swap/294762/

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Digital Ad Explosion Impacting Midterms and 2016

Digital advertising is seeing explosive growth in the 2014 midterm elections. A recent Politico magazine article cites estimates by Borrell Associates that $270 million will be spent nationally on digital campaigning, a 1,825% increase from 2010 when tablets first impacted the political scene. By 2016, Borrell sees online political spending at almost $1 billion, surpassing newspapers, direct mail and telemarketing for the first time. "If you’re trying to hit males 18 to 34, you probably want to be all digital," Amanda Bloom, a GOP consultant at BASK Digital Media, declared at last month's San Francisco conference hosted by Campaigns & Elections magazine. Campaigns are eager for the digital results they see in campaigns like Iowa's GOP Senate hopeful Joni Ernst, whose low budget Internet ad "Let's make 'em squeal" (noting her experience in hog castration) went viral and propelled her from third to first in the primary. Of course, the online tech giants -- Google, Facebook, Pandora and others -- are prepping for the political ad bonanza with new Washington strategists and election-oriented sales staff, per Politico. And ad planners for television, still the big dog of political spending, are also adjusting tactics to complement digital: Cross-promotional TV ads now urge voters to donate online and "like" Facebook, Instagram,Twitter and YouTube pages, while major TV ad buying agencies are touting in-house digital teams, Politico reports. For the full story, go to http://www.politico.com/story/2014/08/2014-elections-digital-advertising-110322.html

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Political Direct Mail Alive & Thriving in Digital Age

Political direct mail is not just surviving in the digital age; it's thriving, according to a recent report by Politico magazine. Campaigns, party committees and outside groups have spent at least $150 million on direct mail so far in the 2014 election cycle, according to a Politico review of Federal Election Commission reports and data compiled by CQ Moneyline. That dollar total, based on expenditures categorized as a variation of "direct mail" or "mailer," far outpaces expenditures categorized as "digital," "online," "web"” and "e-mail," which together totaled about $70 million. "Direct mail works," Walter Lukens, founder of The Lukens Co., whose clients include Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Tennessee GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander, explained to Politico. "In terms of moving the needle, it’s very effective because people still read their mail, and some even keep it around," Lukens said. "It’s got a shelf life. It’s cheaper, and you can reach a more targeted audience." What about ever-more-targeted television, the political ad budget topper? Malorie Thompson of Something Else Strategies, noted that, even with current improvements in targeting voters through TV ads, direct mail has crucial cost advantages: "You want to create a campaign that chases a voter, that can engage them where they want to engage. Not all campaigns have the luxury of going on TV. That’s why direct mail is still very efficient." For fundraising, direct mail is especially key to getting donations from older donors and people who are still reluctant to give their credit card information online, added Michael Centanni, president of Base-Connect, which represents conservative candidates and groups. He cites another advantage of direct mail over e-mail fundraising pitches: "It’s so easy to delete your e-mail without even looking at it. With direct mail, you would think it would be the same, but you at least have a few seconds." Another reason even high-tech campaigns want to keep old-fashioned snail mail in the mix: It cuts through to voters barraged by digital and televised appeals. As Kevin Mack of Mack Sumner Communications, which works for several groups on the left, noted, "In today’s day and age, you can have five to seven screens in your house, but you still only have one mailbox." Read the full story at http://www.politico.com/story/2014/08/an-unlikely-survivor-in-the-digital-age-direct-mail-109673.html

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

How Campaigns Can Avoid Common Twitter Gaffes

Twitter is a quick and easy tool for political campaigns seeking to capture and engage followers. But caution is needed. Common Twitter mistakes can mute positive buzz, or even turn it into a stinging swarm of criticism! Thanks to onlinecandidate.com for alerting campaigners to five common Twitter mistakes. At the top of the list is tweeting from the wrong account. It seems obvious, but candidates, campaign managers and support groups may have multiple accounts -- personal, campaign-specific and even business-related. So make sure to log into the correct account before firing off a tweet. Another dangerous error is confusing a direct message with a general tweet. Anthony Weiner suffered the consequences of this gaffe when a scandalous photo posted to his general Twitter account. Indeed, it's best to assume that any tweet, even direct posts, may not remain private. Error No. 3: Overly emotional venting. It's good to inject personality into communications, but tread lightly. Whining, raging or just plain mean tweets do not win friends or influence positively. And be careful with humor; offensive stereotyping is an obvious no-no, but a joking tone also risks making a campaign seem flippant about issues followers take seriously. Obviously, avoid profanity! Next, if growing campaign followers is the goal, don't let numbers fool you. Having over a million followers doesn't translate into a million votes. Campaigns should pay attention to the metrics (you can measure traffic and re-tweet metrics with tools like Klout, Tweetreach and Twitalizer), but don't focus solely on ROI. Put quality ahead of quantity to reap the intangible benefits of awareness, engagement and relationship building. For the article and links to more Twitter tips, go to http://www.onlinecandidate.com/articles/5-common-twitter-mistakes

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Acquiring Political E-mails for Best Response, Dollars

Political campaigns and nonprofit causes are always seeking to acquire new "good" e-mail addresses to grow and sustain their lists. Campaign marketers should be interested then in a two-part study provided by Jesse Bacon to epolitics.com. Bacon, of PowerThru Consulting, looked at an environmental cause client's data to tease out which e-mails by acquisition route offered the best performance in terms of cost-effective response. He compared three common ways that political and advocacy campaigns acquire e-mails: 1) paid acquisition; 2) online advertising, including social media (in this case study, Bacon focused on Facebook ads); and 3) list exchanges with like-minded groups. He found that e-mails from swaps led performance in terms of open rates, click rates and click-to-open ratios. Paid acquisition came in second, and e-mails from Facebook ads came in last in opens and clicks, although they still performed above industry average and so were a potentially viable way to build an e-mail list because of Facebook's low cost. The next part of his analysis looked at how those same e-mail acquisition groups performed in terms of fundraising dollars over an 18-month period. Here list exchanges really shone, contributing 45% of new members but 66% of all funds raised. Facebook was the bottom performer, accounting for 22% of the new members but only 10% of funds raised. When it comes to donation per member by acquisition source, Bacon found that swaps and acquisitions both performed about the same in terms of the average gift (between $19 and $20), while the Facebook members were less generous, with an average gift just over $15. For more detail, go to http://www.epolitics.com/2014/07/22/email-acquisition-performance-part-2-who-pays-the-bills/

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Do Digital Myths Drive Away Campaign Ad Dollars?

Why has digital marketing failed to catch fire with political campaigners? Despite hype about its cost-effective success in the 2012 election, online is still forecast to make up only a minor portion of 2014 campaign ad spending (3%), way behind the big bucks for TV. In contrast, brand advertisers spend 25% of budgets on digital. In a recent Campaigns & Elections magazine article, Bryan Gernert, CEO of Resonate, took on three myths that he believes cause political campaigns to underuse digital marketing. First, he notes, political campaigns are comfortable with their offline voter files and donor lists, and assume that online "big data" is geared to brand marketing. Gernert argues that this short-sighted focus on voter lists -- keying on party affiliation and past voting behavior -- misses insights from digital sources about current, dynamic voter values and issues, which is vital to wooing swing voters. Bringing static offline voter data online and enhancing it with up-to-date digital data points will allow campaigns to better target both swing voters and partisans. The second myth is that political campaigns have time and geographic constraints that could stymie success with digital. Not true, asserts Gernert. In fact, online is the ideal medium for tight geotargeting and quick turnaround. Geotargeted online marketing provides flexibility, real-time feedback, and more rapid testing, analytics and response than traditional channels. Finally, many politicos apparently still assume that voters rely more on traditional media for political information. Another myth exposed by the facts: Pew Research found that, by 2012, online/mobile sites had surpassed radio and newspapers as the main source of news consumption. Resonate's own data shows that the percent of registered voters who say they are moderate to heavy consumers of online news is only slightly lower than those who are moderate to heavy viewers of TV news. See the complete article at http://www.campaignsandelections.com/magazine/us-edition/446727/debunking-3-myths-preventing-campaigns-from-embracing-digital-ads.thtml

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Political E-mail Subject Lines: Why So Weird?

Political fundraisers' e-mail subject lines have taken a decided turn toward Crazy Town. A July article by Chris Good of ABC News highlighted just a few recent examples: "Can we chat real quick?" "Wow just wow," "Empty Beer Mugs," "STOP THEM," "I'm going to book your flight and hotel," "Sarah Palin berated me," "Here's the thing," and on and on. Most of these were not fundraising appeals by local fringe candidates but rather messages by knowledgeable political agencies, the Democratic National Committee (DNC), or House and Senate campaigns. Why so weird? Blame it on the e-mail success of the Obama campaign back in 2012, with subject lines such as "hey" and "Do you still live in Illinois?" Those subject lines were scientifically tested on Obama's 13 million e-mail list and won more response. In 2014's midterm fundraising drives, political e-mail gurus are finding that offbeat and personal still test well. "People's inboxes are very much like their Facebook feeds right now," Anne Lewis, head of the Democratic Anne Lewis Strategies consulting firm, explained to Good. "What makes someone want to open an e-mail is if you've invoked their curiosity, or induced anger or... an argument." There's also a follow-the-leader factor, with House and Senate candidates seeking to emulate Obama's success, and smaller campaigns, faced with more limited test universes, borrowing from larger groups and races. But once everybody does it, impact can wain. Good cited the rise of new tactics for e-mail attention-getting: Subject line emoji (a DNC ploy); long subject lines (anti-"hey"); ALL CAPS (shouting works, too); lines ending with a colon (open for more); doom and gloom ("HORRIFYING," "bad news," "throw in the towel" wails the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee); and customized preview text. For more examples and discussion, see http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/empty-beer-mugs-political-mails-weirder/story?id=24416505

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

How Political Campaigns Fail on Facebook

Political campaigns and causes may know they need a social media presence today, but do they know how to properly and effectively leverage social visibility? Maybe it's a good time to revisit a 2012 post by Tyler Pearson of New Media Campaigns, a web design and development agency, on the 10 most common mistakes that political campaigns make on Facebook. Here's a no brainer: If you build it, they aren't going to just come. A Facebook page needs to be promoted to voters and supporters. Put links everywhere possible online and add a Facebook url to direct mail, TV ads, campaign literature and speeches. Here's a seemingly obvious but common mistake: An icon is an attractive way to wave a social flag, but it makes no sense offline (you can't click a postcard), so put the Facebook url on non-digital material. And while you're at it, make it a vanity url that is easier to remember than the numbered default. Vanity urls are available as soon as the page reaches a minimum number of Facebook "likes." By the way, we have been talking about Facebook pages here, not profiles. As Pearson points out, campaigns should use all the space and promotional options of a page not a personal profile of a candidate or cause leader. Campaigns can avoid confusion if both a page and profile exist by temporarily hiding the profile, Pearson suggests. Then what do you do with that Facebook page? Don't leave visitors staring at the Wall and reading dull press releases, use custom landing tabs for donation calls to action, e-mail sign-ups, etc. For more advice, go to http://www.newmediacampaigns.com/blog/10-common-mistakes-political-campaigns-make-with-facebook-pages

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Data Advances Transform TV Ad Targeting, Costs

Improved data technology is revolutionizing political TV ad targeting and spending, stresses a recent report by The Wall Street Journal. Borrowing from traditional direct-mail targeting methods, data analysts now can mine information about where a person lives, how he or she has voted and what products have been purchased to predict future political behavior -- and then match those voters to TV viewer data about what shows individuals watch and when they watch them. This allows TV ad targeting to drill down to a much deeper level than blanket TV ad buys using traditional audience stats. For example, DirecTV Group Inc. and Dish Network Corp., the country's two biggest satellite-TV providers, now offer direct access to chosen households, so one person might see a campaign ad during a show that his next-door neighbor won't see even if watching the same show. Cablevision Systems Corp. and Comcast Spotlight, a division of Comcast Corp., also have started providing campaigns with detailed, real-time information about what people are watching. Sensitive to possible privacy concerns, ad buyers and sellers stressed to WSJ that individual privacy is being protected by encryption, removal of names and identifiers, and third-party matching of anonymous voter and TV viewer data. But the bottom line is that these new data tools are allowing campaigns to reach pivotal voters at lower TV-ad costs. Advocates of the new TV targeting for both Republicans and Democrats told WSJ that they can help a campaign stretch its ad budget by as much as 30%. That's certainly good news when political campaigns will spend about 57% of their overall advertising budgets on broadcast TV, and another 15% on cable, according to projections by Kantar Media's Campaign Media Analysis Group! For examples of how real campaigns have used the new TV targeting, read the WSJ story: http://online.wsj.com/articles/political-ads-take-targeting-to-the-next-level-1405381606

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Even Social Sites Divide Along Party Lines

Social media is a must for political campaigning today, but it turns out that most social platforms are not unbiased forums, according to a recent survey by the Harvard Institute of Politics as reported in a New York Times post. According to the Harvard survey, Democrats prefer to share on Google Plus and Twitter, while Republicans are Pinterest fans. Facebook is both the most popular and most politically neutral social media environment, with 87% of Republicans and 87% of Democrats saying they use the site. Snapchat also appeals equally to smaller portions of both parties (24% Democrats and 23% of Republicans). But most of the rest of the social media world is dominated by Democrats, with Google Plus (52% of Dems; 36% of GOP), Twitter (46% of Dems; 38% of GOP), Instagram, WhatsApp and Tumblr all more popular with the left side of aisle. Only Pinterest garners more interest from Republicans (40%) than Democrats (32%), and social observers theorized that this may be because 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his wife often used it during their campaign. Bottom line: Candidates and causes seeking to corral supporters should consider the political bent of social media options when committing resources. See the full post at http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/04/30/the-political-preferences-of-social-media-sites/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Study: Parties Face Polarized, Disaffected Voters

Partisan polarization, combined with growth of unpredictable, disaffected voter blocs, will challenge both Republican and Democratic candidates this year and in 2016, according to a recent Pew Research Center report. Pew's "voter typology" divides voters into cohesive groups based on attitudes and values to provide a "field guide" to the changing political landscape. The latest study describes eight voter types, including three groups that are strongly ideological, highly politically engaged and overwhelmingly partisan. Two of those three partisan voter types form the Republican base: Steadfast Conservatives (anti-government and socially conservative) and Business Conservatives (pro-business, limited government types but social moderates). Meanwhile, voters categorized as Solid Liberals provide loyal Democratic Party support. However, these three partisan voter types make up just 36% of the public and 43% of registered voters, which means victory for either party will depend on problematic wooing of votes from groups that are less predictable, less engaged and have "little in common with each other or the groups at either end of the political spectrum." Those five, less-partisan voter types are Young Outsiders (Republican-leaning but socially liberal), Hard-Pressed Skeptics (financially soured, former Obama backers), Next Generation Left (young, affluent, socially liberal but fiscally cautious), Faith and Family Left (Democrat-leaning but religious/socially traditional), and Bystanders (10% of the public and not registered to vote). Republican campaigns are likely to be further challenged by growing schisms between Steadfast Conservatives and Business Conservatives over social issues, big-business power and foreign policy, Pew researchers add. For details of the Pew study, go to http://www.people-press.org/2014/06/26/the-political-typology-beyond-red-vs-blue/

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Rapid Growth Forecast for Political Online Ads

"Explosive" growth in online political ad spending is being projected by ad forecasting firm Borrell Associates. A political advertising outlay of $8.3 billion is forecast to flood all media markets for the midterm elections, up from the $7.2 billion spent in 2010, the previous midterm election year, according to the Borrell 2014 forecasts reported by Deadline Hollywood. But the shares of the pie going to broadcast TV, cable TV, online and newspapers are shifting. While broadcasters are expected to reap $4.6 billion this year, or 55.4% of the ad spend for all races and ballot issues, that take is actually down from its 57.5% share in 2010, and broadcast's share is expected to shrink further to 52.6% in 2016. Where's the money going? Cable and online are "the only media choices projected to gain share" this year, per the Borrell report. In fact, online’s projected $271.2 million is up 1,825.2% from its $14.1 million in 2010. Although online ads are expected to account for just three cents of every ad dollar spent on all 2014 political contests, "current forecasts call for explosive growth to continue, nearing the billion-dollar level by 2016′s Presidential election," according to another quote from the report. By 2016, online will account for 7.7% of ad spending, ahead of newspapers' 7.1%. Display ads and video will make up three quarters of this year’s online spending. Forecasters attribute political campaigners' new "fascination" with online to its targeting ability, quick response and relatively low cost as well at to generational shifts that see millennial voters "much more likely to turn to streaming video and social media" for political information. For a summary of the report, see http://www.deadline.com/2014/06/political-ad-spending-tv-online-borrell/

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Donor List Rental Still Top Political Fundraising Tool

Donor list rental is still the leading tool of political fundraisers despite hype about social media and online politicking, reports a recent Advertising Age article. The list-rental dollars in this year's elections are indicative: The National Republican Congressional Committee already has spent just under $200,000 to rent the Romney 2012 e-mail list from Targeted Victory, a consultant for Romney's digital campaign. The Democratic National Committee has put a $190,909 per month value on the Obama for America list, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee told the Federal Election Commission (FEC) it used $135,000 worth of the same list twice in April. While the Obama and Romney lists may be among the largest, they are hardly the only lists being rented per FEC reports. Candidate campaigns and advocacy groups are renting lists of online petition supporters, campaign event attendees, donors to specific nonprofits or political candidates, left-leaning subscribers to The Nation and DailyKOS.com or right-leaning subscribers to Newsmax, and so on. The primary season is especially rife with donor list rentals as lesser known candidates vie for cash to support upcoming election bids. Why are donor list rentals so key? Can't the data wizards extract targets from public voter data using known-donor profiles? "You can build predictive models of likelihood to be a donor using your list of donors and lists of people who have not donated to you," Alex Lundry, senior VP at GOP data analytics firm TargetPoint Consulting, acknowledged to Advertising Age. But he then added, "That will never perform as strongly as just going out and renting a list of people who have given before to another campaign."A person's history of donating is the best predictor of another donation, the political direct marketers agreed. Read the full article at http://adage.com/article/campaign-trail/world-campaign-tech-list-rental-a-force/293714/

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Lessons From GOP Cantor's Stunning Primary Loss

Stunned political pundits are trying to explain the Virginia primary loss of GOP House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Are there lessons for campaigns and causes charging toward the midterm elections? Cantor's loss certainly was not due to a lack of money; Cantor outspent his Republican primary rival Dave Brat by 26 to 1 courtesy of big-business donors. So those facing big-money challengers take heart, and candidates with overflowing coffers take heed.  Fundraising that earns a "crony capitalist" label can come back to bite you: Cantor's unabashed big-donor image allowed Brat to successfully appeal to voters' populist sentiments. A recent analysis in The Atlantic magazine sums up other Cantor vulnerabilities that candidates will want to avoid. For example, don't go wrong on litmus issues: Cantor's support of certain pieces of immigration reform allowed Tea Party-stalwart Brat to win Conservative votes by accusing Cantor of "blanket amnesty" support. Next, remember that personality counts: Cantor, who has been described as arrogant and self-serving, apparently made more enemies than friends on his ambitious climb to House Majority Leader via leaps from moderate Republican to Tea Party and back toward the middle, and so earned distrust, dislike and Conservative responses ranging from apathy to outright opposition during the primary. And never lose touch with the home front: Cantor didn't pay attention to his constituent base while he played Washington power games and wooed donors. Plus, he then sought to change state central committee rules before the primary to minimize right-wing activists, a misguided effort to "vigorously poke a nest of already-angry hornets" as one Republican operative told The Atlantic. For more, see the article at http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/06/six-theories-for-eric-cantors-loss/372552/

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Custom Digital Radio Offered to Candidates, Causes

Candidates, PACs and causes are being offered a new vehicle to ride to election day: customized digital radio stations. Houston-based company RFC will create custom-produced radio stations that "are hand-crafted and live hosted by award winning and nationally known on-air personalities." The music is designed to hit the target demographic and spoken content discusses "issues, candidates and campaigns in a fashion that builds a bridge with your mission-critical demographic." In a press release, RFC CEO Pat Fant promises, "By combining high-value content with legitimate entertainment, we can pull people in rather than just pushing information out. That increases the likelihood they'll participate and share with their friends, and that has a lot of advantages in the political world." Any examples of this idea in practice? RFC has been partnering with NASA for the last two years to create a digital radio station "Third Rock" that blends indie rock with science news. RFC sells its concept by stressing its longevity: As opposed to ephemeral radio spots, the custom station can keep on message and build support even after an election. Also digital radio is embeddable, like a YouTube video, so it can be integrated into the social media of a campaign or cause. For more, see the Tess VandenDolder story from Streetwise Media's InTheCapital at http://inthecapital.streetwise.co/2014/06/05/your-new-favorite-radio-station-could-actually-be-owned-by-ted-cruz/

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Get-Out-the-Vote Mail Can Be Key for Democrats

A recent New Republic article by Sasha Issenberg, a fellow at UCLA's Luskin School of Public Affairs, tackled a basic midterm challenge for Democrats: The coalition of young, demographically diverse, urban and mobile voters who sent Obama to the White House make up only 40% of those who normally vote in midterm elections; the regular midterm voters are primarily older conservatives. So if Democratic campaigns focus on winning over the people likely to cast ballots, they could be in trouble come November. "For a party populated by Unreliable voters, the midterm imperative is clear: ...go and turn out those who are already on your side but won't show up without a friendly nudge," argues Issenberg. Issenberg doesn't think that the way to capture those voters is an expensive TV ad war, however, especially since TV ad impact is "nearly impossible to measure." Instead, Issenberg argues that hundreds of rigorous tests in the last 15 years have "yielded a clear understanding" of the most effective get-out-the-vote methods: direct mail, phone calls and canvass visits. Unfortunately, few candidates have large enough volunteer forces for effective field operations, nor are there enough seasoned phone banks to handle millions of personalized election calls. That leaves direct mail as a proven, scalable, cost-effective tool. For example, by adding proven social motivation triggers to a nonpartisan get-out-the-vote letter, direct mail testing by Todd Rogers, a Harvard psychologist, found that mailers can boost the likelihood of voting by a third of the percentage point, Issenberg reports. Another recently tested concept involved adding a message that the voter may be called after the election to discuss poll experience (a subtle threat of accountability), which bumped up letter response by another 50% and dropped the cost per new vote to just $47. For the full article, read http://www.newrepublic.com/article/117520/how-democrats-can-avoid-going-down-2014-midterm-election

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

What's Behind the Early Start for Political TV Ads?

Political TV advertising seems to have started to flood the airwaves earlier than normal for the midterm elections. Before blaming the Citizens United decision and big-money PACs, consider these four other trends cited by Elizabeth Wilner of Kantar Media's Campaign Media Analysis Group on a recent Political Wire podcast. First of all, the early start is not a new trend, she points out; political TV advertising, in volume and expenditure, has been starting earlier and earlier for the last three election cycles, as advertisers use the lower-rate period to define and attack opponents and catch voter attention. The Citizen's United (and McCutcheon) decision, which unleashed spending by outside groups and individuals, is just one factor; hot issues, such as the Affordable Care Act, and party strategy, such as the battle for control of the Senate, have sparked some early TV ads, too. Campaigns are also beginning to push their online and social media efforts in non-digital channels; even in the 2012 election, few TV ads promoted a digital presence, but more early TV spots are appearing to feature Twitter hashtags and urls at least, Wilner noted. Finally, groups outside of the parties and candidates are also trying to jump in early with a more positive spin than the attack ads that turned off some voters in 2012 -- if only to woo the electorate into accepting the negative ad blitz that is likely to follow as election battles heat up come fall. For more on Wilner's remarks, see The Week article at http://theweek.com/article/index/261387/whats-behind-the-surge-in-political-tv-ads

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Midterm Campaigns Focusing on Women Voters

Both Republicans and Democrats are setting their sights on women voters in this year's midterm elections. An "enormous portion" of advertising will be "devoted to persuading women or repressing the women's vote," said Elizabeth Wilner, senior VP of Kantar Media Ad Intelligence, in a recent Ad Age article. In Congressional races, Democrats hope to continue their previous edge with women voters by adding equal pay, minimum wage and other pocketbook concerns to the reproductive choice and access to contraception issues that gained them female support in prior elections. Democrats are even hoping to use the GOP's critical focus on the Affordable Care Act to their advantage since "in most households the person in charge of health care is a woman," as Ms. Kantar noted, and those women may like aspects of "Obamacare," such as free mammograms and allowing children to stay on parental health policies until they are 26 years old. Republicans are countering by showcasing their female candidates and supporters, and by using a less biting, more emotionally positive tone that strategists think will be more appealing to women this time around. For examples of actual campaign ad tactics, go to http://adage.com/article/campaign-trail/political-advertising-enlisted-war-women/293243/

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Direct Mail Still Key Tool in Conservative Fundraising

How are conservative campaigns raising money in the first quarter of 2014? Direct mail take bow. A recent Washington Post story looked at the top PACs in terms of fundraising, with a special focus on the National Draft Ben Carson Committee, which raised nearly $2.4 million -- more than half a million more than Ready for Hillary. Carson is an African American former neurosurgeon whose views on social issues and "Obamacare" are favored by the far right. The Draft Carson PAC also spent $2.44 million, with half of that going to mailing list rental and a direct fundraising agency. Why go for direct mail when it is cheaper to harvest donations online? For strong candidates and super PACs, the big initial investment builds a donor list that will be leveraged for funds and votes in future, and costs are cushioned by wealthy supporters. It's a lot riskier investment for long-shot candidates, but conservatives need to tap older voters, who are reached via mailbox rather than online, notes the Post article, so minorities and tea-party-affiliated Republicans (like Carson) are taking a chance on direct mail. Asserts Base Connect, a direct mail agency for conservative candidates and causes, on its website: "Direct mail fundraising is not the fastest way to raise money, or the least expensive. But over the long run, when certain conditions are met, direct mail has repeatedly proven to be the most effective and reliable vehicle for raising money." Many conservative hopefuls are betting on it. For more, see the Post story at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2014/04/17/the-draft-ben-carson-super-pac-raised-a-massive-amount-of-money-over-the-last-three-months-how/

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

'Dark Money' Flooding Into Midterm Elections

Even as the Senate Rules Committee holds hearings on the rising tide of election spending by nondisclosing groups -- 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations and 501(c)(6) trade associations -- the 2014 midterm elections are shaping up as a record-breaker for such "dark money" spending. So far in the 2014 midterm cycle, three times more dark money spending has already been reported to the Federal Election Commission than at the same point during the 2012 presidential campaign, reported an analysis by nonpartisan political-spending watchdog OpenSecrets.org at the end of April. The 501(c)(4) groups include Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS and the Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity, while 501(c)(6) groups range from the Chamber of Commerce and American Petroleum Institute to the Koch-network's Freedom Partners. In the 2012 election, these 501(c) organizations, which do not claim politics as their primary purpose and which do not have to disclose donors to the public, spent more than $310 million overall. At this point in the 2012 elections, dark money spending was at an all-time high compared with the same point of any previous election cycle, totaling about $4.4 million -- six times more than spent in the 2010 midterms at the same point. But that's peanuts compared to the tally to date for the 2014 midterms, where dark money is already at $12.3 million. For more of the analysis, go to http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2014/04/how-2014-is-shaping-up-to-be-the-da.html

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Political Campaign Veterans Champion Direct Mail

Campaign strategists may argue over digital vs. TV ad dollars, especially as studies show waning TV ad reach, but is anyone arguing the efficacy of direct mail? Certainly not Denny Hatch, direct marketing pro and a veteran of past Republican direct mail success. Hatch recently wrote an article for Target Marketing magazine with the assertive title "The Secret of Winning Elections: Direct Mail." Citing the wisdom of political direct mail pioneers -- such as conservative fundraiser Richard Viguerie -- and his own experience in the Eisenhower-Nixon campaign, Hatch champions direct mail as a tool for political persuasion as well as fundraising. Direct mail reaches voters directly and personally in a way that cannot be muted, skipped over, or clicked off, he points out. It offers a way to hone a winning message in terms of issues and image through measurable, scientific testing. Best of all, political direct mail can be self-financing via issue-related fundraising appeals. Benefits of such an issue-oriented fundraising effort include the creation of an engaged group of voters who "bet on a horse" (contributed) and so are more likely to not only vote themselves but to convince others to vote for the same "horse," notes Hatch. Of course, another ancillary benefit is the gathering of data on hundreds of thousands of future supporters and donors. This quote from Viguerie's new book Takeover may put the role of political direct mail in perspective for today's campaigners: "When I started in 1961, direct mail was the second-largest form of advertising, second only to television. Today in 2014, direct mail is still the second-largest form of advertising." For the complete Hatch article, see http://www.targetmarketingmag.com/article/the-secret-winning-elections-direct-mail/?params=print

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

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Campaigns Need Early Effort to Leverage Facebook

If you expect your 2014 political or advocacy campaign to benefit from a Facebook following, you need to start early, advises a recent epolitics.com post. For example, in last year’s Virginia governor’s race, Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s campaign spent time and ad dollars to build his Facebook following as early as possible. His goal was to create a base of "social validation" for late-cycle persuasion and GOTV ads. He leveraged the fact that Facebook enhances ads on its site with socially validating information (“X likes this” or “Y people like this”) to get more people to click, exploiting the psychological power of "everybody’s doing it." But for followers’ Likes and Shares to influence their friends, you need to have followers! So start building a Facebook following as early as possible, and that means an investment in advertising. And consider emulating the Virginia Democrats in another way, too. They used a Facebook app that matched the central voter file with their supporters’ friend networks. If supporters allowed it, the campaign could look through a supporter's friends to find priority voters already targeted for outreach, and then ask the supporter to reach those target voters with messages designed to appeal. Again, this technique only works if you have built a critical mass of supporters! So, get going on that Facebook outreach ASAP. See the post at

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

ABC News Cites 14 Midterm Races That Matter

The political pundits are already deciding which of the races for 435 House slots, 36 Senate seats, and 36 governor's mansions are worthy of national media attention. ABC News Political Director Rick Klein has weighed in early with the top 14 races he thinks are worth following so far. Here are just the top six races chosen: Kentucky's Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell battling both a tea-party challenger and re-energized Democratic foes; Arkansas' incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor defending a vulnerable position against well-heeled GOP opponent Rep. Tom Cotton; Georgia's retiring Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss leaving the field open to far-right primary contenders and hopeful Democrat Michelle Nunn, daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn; incumbent Louisiana Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu fighting to keep her Southern seat as a must-win for Democrats; Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a tea-party power, facing the evolving Republican-turned-Independent-turned Democrat Charlie Crist; Texas Gov. Rick Perry retiring in the biggest red state to leave the gubernatorial contest open for new Democratic star Wendy Davis vs. Republican Atty. Gen. Greg Abbott. For more detail on these and other races, including the Wisconsin governor race and House matches in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, California, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, see the article at http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/abc-news-14-14-2014-midterm-election-races/story?id=21659968

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Oregon in the Spotlight With Hot Ballot Measures

Oregon is in the national spotlight with a bevy of political hot buttons vying for attention on its 2014 ballot, including legal weed, gay marriage, immigration, and labeling of genetically modified foods, just for starters. Although Oregonians have until July to collect signatures for initiatives in the 2014 election, several high-profile measures have already made the ballot. For example, an immigration-related measure will be there, seeking a public vote on a law, passed in the last session of the state legislature, to give "driver privilege cards" to those who don’t have the documents required to get a driver’s license. The driver’s card would be restricted from use for identification or voting. Gay marriage is on the ballot, too, as Oregon joins at least eight other states with 2014 gay marriage initiatives. The Oregon measure would repeal a state constitutional amendment, passed in 2004, which banned same-sex marriage. The initiative, called the Oregon Freedom to Marry and Religious Protection Initiative, would also protect religious institutions from being forced to perform same-sex weddings. Meanwhile, proponents of legal recreational marijuana are busy collecting signatures to make sure, although they hope the Oregon Legislature will send a legal weed measure to the ballot, that their issue goes before the voters in 2014. If legal weed proponents prevail, Oregon would follow the lead of Washington and Colorado, the first two states to legalize the drug for recreational purposes. Other measures seeking a spot on the ballot include required labeling of "genetically modified foods," a "right-to-work" push to allow public workers to opt out of unions and dues, and an end to state-controlled liquor sales. For more detail, go to http://watchdog.org/121127/oregon-2014-ballot/

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Obama Revives Internal White House Political Office

With Democratic control of the Senate crucial to President Obama's hopes of getting second-term priorities through Congress, President Obama has brought back an internal White House political office to help boost Congressional Democrats in midterm elections. Obama named David Simas, a top adviser previously grappling with the health care rollout, to oversee the new Office of Political Strategy and Outreach. In an unusual move, Obama had closed the internal White House political office in 2011, sparking Congressional Democrats to grumble about lack of support. But the new office will be slimmed down from the 15-member operation that existed before 2011, with about a third of the staff. Simas will advise President Obama on the political climate, handle requests for campaign appearances, coordinate strategy with the Democratic National Committee and other national and local party operations, and will tell administration officials what they can do legally when they get involved in political activity, according to the White House. See the news report at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/24/obama-white-house-david-simas-_n_4661699.html?utm_hp_ref=politics&ir=Politics

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

USPS Changes Impact Political Direct Mail in 2014

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has implemented changes affecting political direct mail, beginning in January 2014. First, Full-Service Intelligent Mail is now required for automation pricing (discounted postage rates) for First-Class and Standard letters and flat mail, as well as for Periodicals and Bound Printed Matter. Full-Service will require Intelligent Mail Barcodes, previously optional, on each mail piece, tray and container. It will also require that documents be submitted to the USPS electronically (eDoc) to identify the submitting party, identify the mail owner, and determine who gets reports. Second, the USPS will be reducing the number of mail processing facilities from 417 to 250, with consolidation expected to be complete by the end of 2014. This will likely affect mail delivery times, though the USPS has not provided estimates of the impact. However, since political direct mail now may be processed further from its final delivery location, look for some increased shipping costs and additional days of transport time to reach mailboxes. For more detail, see the article at http://thecampaignworkshop.com/political-direct-mail-usps-changes-2014/

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Dish, DirecTV Unite on Addressable Political TV Ads

Satellite TV giants Dish Network and DirecTV are teaming their sales efforts to offer addressable TV ads for political campaigns this election year, creating a combined reach of more than 20 million households. Political campaigns now will be able to use both operators' addressable capabilities to target at a household level. "The DirecTV/Dish addressable advertising platform utilizes highly sophisticated and targeted technology that will allow political campaigns to specifically reach swing voters with TV ads. Campaigns can focus their message to a precise set of potential voters and eliminate the spending waste," Keith Kazerman, senior VP of ad sales at DirecTV, said in a statement. "The platform not only uniquely monetizes big data, which has become critical to every political campaign, but it does it at scale. It’s the perfect complement to local DMA cable buys and a fiscally compelling alternative to local broadcast." Warren Schlichting, senior VP of Dish media sales, was quoted as adding, "Together, Dish and DirecTV reach nearly one out of every five U.S. television households and usher TV into the modern political age." See the story at http://www.multichannel.com/distribution/dish-directv-team-addressable-political-ads/147908

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Donors Seek to Skirt IRS on Political Fundraising

As the IRS moves to limit campaign fundraising by nonprofit groups, lawyers are looking for ways to enable donors to continue to pour money into elections while remaining anonymous. According to a recent Wall Street Journal story, one option is the creation of taxable, for-profit businesses to be used as campaigning vehicles. Another idea involves donors banding together in trade associations. Neither type of group is required to disclose their members. In November of last year, the IRS proposed new rules to limit political activity by social-welfare groups, known as 501(c)(4) groups, whose donors can contribute unlimited amounts on an anonymous basis. A 2010 Supreme Court ruling allowed for companies to spend unlimited amounts of money to support or oppose candidates, and these organizations are not required to report their activities to the Federal Election Commission since they are not seeking tax-exempt status. Unlike political action committees (PACs), these groups, such as the Democratic firm Catalist and the GOP group called America Rising, do not have to disclose donors, clients, or spending and can work directly with political campaigns, though they are required to pay taxes on any profits. The taxable, for-profit entities are making it difficult to distinguish political-consulting firms from advocacy groups, experts note, even though companies must be able to demonstrate they have a legitimate business purpose other than campaign activity to avoid being defined by the IRS as a PAC. Many already do, saying they are providing services for a price, such as polling, consulting, and advertising. Meanwhile, political trade associations and charities, known as 501(c)(6) groups, similar to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, are also finding ways to raise huge sums on an anonymous basis. The IRS has already hinted it may institute new rules to regulate these types of "business leagues" for their role in campaigning. For more, see

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Social Media Political Trends to Watch in 2014

It's a given that social media will play a role in 2014 politics, but new apps, new players and new trends are already changing the social game learned in 2012. A Social Media Today post by Jane Susskind, of IVN News, lays out some predictions to help guide campaigns' social media planning. While Facebook and Twitter dominated political campaigning in 2012, watch for Google Plus to take a bigger role this year, she predicts. Not only is Google Plus now the second largest social network in the world, it will be running Google Plus ads on the Google Display Network, which includes over 2 million sites, making it more appealing for political ads. Those chasing the youth vote turned to Facebook in 2012, but recent studies show that young adults are leaving Facebook for social networks such as Instagram and Vine, Susskind reports. No wonder trendsetters Sen. Cory Booker and Gov. Chris Christie have been showcasing their expertise on Instagram. Clearly, pictures will matter as much or more than words in 2014 social media. Posts that include photo albums receive 180% more engagement than the average post, and Barack Obama's most popular tweet was a photo of him with Michelle, notes Susskind. So campaign strategists should start coming up with visual impact as well as slogans. That includes videos, especially micro-videos. Twitter’s Vine and Facebook’s Instagram, both limiting videos to 15 seconds or under, are examples of networks that could be used by politicians for quick, real-time connections, as opposed to long-form TV ads. And some social media vehicles that worked well in 2012 will work even better in 2014, predicts Susskind. Take Twitter as an example. As of November 2013, one in 10 Americans got their news from Twitter, she points out, and Twitter continues to offer politicians a way to get the word out, react quickly to events and attacks, and generate real-time response from a growing crowd of followers. For the complete post, go to http://socialmediatoday.com/jane-susskind/2030916/5-ways-social-media-will-change-political-campaigns-2014

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Three-Quarters of States Now Under Single-Party Control

Three-quarters of the states, more than at any time in recent memory, are now governed by one party, either Republican or Democrat, according to a new report in The Washington Post. And the 37 single-party states are now moving in opposite directions based on their differing party ideologies, the Post reports. The 23 Republican-run states, where the GOP holds the governorship and has majorities in both legislative chambers, are championing economic and fiscal strategies of lower taxes, spending cuts and less regulation. Many have declined to set up state health-insurance exchanges to implement the Affordable Care Act. The "Red States" are also clashing with unions and pushing a conservative social agenda to restrict abortion or enact voter-identification laws. Meanwhile, the Democrats have full control of 14 states, and while budget squeezes have them embracing budget cuts, too, many Democrat-run states have also raised taxes to pay for education and infrastructure. These "Blue States" generally back the Affordable Care Act and are moving on a liberal social agenda, including legalizing same sex marriages and easing access to voting. That leaves 12 states where power is divided between Republican and Democrat forces, plus Nebraska (which has a nonpartisan unicameral legislature and a Republican governor). On the question of which party's approach generates the best results for a state, the data is inconclusive, but single-party control does have one clear value: Political consensus is allowing the single-party state governments to avoid the gridlock, bickering and inaction of the divided national government. For more, see the Washington Post article at http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/red-blue-states-move-in-opposite-directions-in-a-new-era-of-single-party-control/2013/12/28/9583d922-673a-11e3-ae56-22de072140a2_story.html