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Monday, April 09, 2007

Throwing more money at a race is not the answer

According to an article last week in “The Plank” in the New Republic, James Carville continues to plug replacing Howard Dean as head of the Democratic National Committee

Some big name Democrats want to oust DNC Chairman Howard Dean, arguing that his stubborn commitment to the 50-state strategy and his stinginess with funds for House races cost the Democrats several pickup opportunities.

Beyond the obvious quibble that Dean’s 50-state strategy clearly animated the party nationwide and apparently contributed to a big victory in November, I wonder if Carville and company think the Tammy Duckworth could have won her prominent House race in Illinois with more money from Dean's Democratic National Committee. If so, he does not have a clue.

If anything, the Duckworth-Roskam race proved just the opposite: so much money was sloshing around in that race that most advertising in the last few weeks, certainly the advertising for Duckworth that presumably was from the DCCC, was virtually worthless. Over and over and over and over and over and over again, and over and over again some more, we saw the same OK commercials that were fine in the early stages of the campaign, but by October had become completely worn out. I would guess I saw the most heavily used one at least 100 times.

What Duckworth’s TV campaign was missing was agility: Roskam successfully countered the early commercials demonizing him for right-wing views – sometimes with less than complete accuracy in the factual support – by ridiculing the descriptions of his positions as misleading, and looking like another nice suburban soccer Dad with a pretty wife and nice-looking kids. Even though there were still many positives to build on -- the skillful de-fanging of Roskam was entirely predictable, there continued to be broad admiration for Duckworth and the huge sacrifice she made in Iraq, and the compelling point was that Roskam is a loyal Republican in a time when the party has moved far to the right of the moderate Republicans who populate so much of the District -- the Duckworth/DCCC campaign had nothing to respond with to keep the momentum from building back in Roskam’s favor.

If the amount spent on her race was not all that different from other races with Democrats who were given huge D.C. support, then the whole premise is dead wrong. Money was not the problem. It was intelligent use of the money. Democrats may have a sophistication problem compared to the business party, the Republicans who can corral the best marketing communications talent in the country. The result is the Dems always thinking more money will do the trick, with insufficient attention to whether the message is exactly right at exactly the time it must be made. Agility, people: be ready for what comes, and have the answer ready the next day.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a former Fortune 100 marketing manager, I recognize this excellent advice on promotion policy when I see it.

12:07 AM  
Blogger KISSWeb said...

Just saw Obama on Letterman. Terrific in my book. He followed this almost to a "t," and had a great metaphor: we're all trying out for quarterback on the same team.

12:31 AM  

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