This morning I came across two different stories on Politico.com which I found quite interesting.
First up, in moderate, centrist districts throughout the US, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (what a mouthful) or DCCC for short are using attack ads to either unseat incumbent Republicans or nip in the bud challenges from fresher Republicans by tying the GOP’s association with the Tea Party around their necks.
‘Never mind that the attacks seem wholly disconnected from the actual records of the Republican candidates — Democrats believe the tea party brand is unpopular enough in major suburbs that they can take out a few candidates with a guilt-by-association strategy.’
It does have great potential to work if the tactic gains traction as according to DCCC polling in these specific jurisdictions notes that support for the Tea Party is incredibly low. Voters in these jurisdictions seemingly like candidates who are not ideologically rigid or ‘extreme’ and the Tea Party’s conservative message does not appear to be popular in these districts.
This has lead to what can only be described as a ridiculous campaign facing Republican Richard Tisei. He is an openly-gay, pro-choice, moderate Republican running for Congress in Massachusetts yet thanks to the DCCC’s strategy ads are now running in the aforementioned state tying him with the Tea Party by his opponent John Tierney. In a few weeks time, we’ll see how this strategy has panned out.
The second story of note concerns the drive by both of the Presidential candidates for small donations. Again, at Politico.com, Dave Levinthal notes that both Obama and Romney are constantly emailing people looking for just USD$5. In an email I received from Barack Obama he told me (and possibly a few million others too), ‘[w]hile the other side leans on corporate donors and million-dollar checks, we’re doing this the right way‘. He has offered a lot of us the chance to have dinner with him too, which would be very nice and where you might even have the chance to sample one of the two home brews that the President has created. These emails from Team Obama are not just solely from the President but include emails from the Vice President, the First Lady, Senior Staffers and now former President Bill Clinton, so it’s a full course press being applied on all on the mailing list.
His challenger, Mitt Romney, is not too shy of asking for small donations too. Recently, he offered donors a chance to fly on his campaign jet while his request on Sunday night to donate USD$15 ‘or more to make sure we have what it takes to defeat Barack Obama.‘
Romney is easily matching these donations with a lot larger donations so why is he and his team, together with Obama’s, trying to pick up these smaller donations? Well, Michael Malbin at the Campaign Finance Institute gets to the crux of the matter for both campaigns:
‘“The money is not peanuts, but the email address and information is worth much more than the few bucks.‘
Essentially, as soon as either campaign has gotten one donation from someone, it will more than likely get another donation, and another and another. Further, the Obama team has pioneered and taken direct marketing to a whole new and perhaps scary level. Joe Trippi used to work on Howard Dean’s 2004 Presidential nomination tells us:
‘We sure didn’t have the ability to know that someone has ‘liked’ the Ocean’s 11 Facebook page, so you then have George Clooney sign the Facebook message that we’re sending to you asking for money…[T]his stuff works; it’s worked for Obama; and after a while, Romney finally figured it out and has been playing catch-up.‘
But, more importantly, the campaigns are then able to use the information gathered on it’s donors so that they can try and persuade them to join the campaign, to help knock on doors in swing districts, man phone banks and do whatever it takes to win.
Will we see something like this come across the pond? Who knows, but it would appear that in the States elections are manned with a whole lot more ‘ordinary’ people (how I hate that term) willing to put in hours to persuade people to go out and vote for their candidate, while increasingly parties in Europe are often filled full of a political class unwilling to roll their sleeves up and knock on doors.