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