Harry Reid, Master Campaigner Going Home

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Democrats and Republicans can all agree that Harry Reid was one of a kind when it came to political campaigning. As his home state of Nevada became redder and redder,

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Do Negative Political Ads Still Work?

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It’s still Conventional Wisdom – political consultants and campaign managers default to negative political ads “because they work.” As a political consultant who grew up in the era of highly negative campaigning, I used to remind my colleagues “If you’re not attacking, you’re losing.”

That’s why I’m paying particularly close attention to the in-house Google Survey IAgreetoSee.com just completed on one aspect of political ads – believability. We asked 1,000 self-identified registered voters which kind of ads they found most accurate and, by a margin of eight to one, respondents chose positive ads over negative ads. (Although it is worth noting– “Don’t Know” was nearly the winner).

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Agreeing to Solve a Problem

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A few years back we were gathered in the Storefront Political Media “War Room” (it’s the plain old conference room during daylight hours) when we began to confront the political consultant’s abyss… Were voters still paying attention to political media?

We knew that in focus groups voters had a scary habit of calling even award-winning print “junk mail.” Sitting in these focus groups, we heard voters call carefully crafted TV spots “bathroom breaks.” And in poll after poll, in campaign after campaign, we saw that it took more money to reach “threshold”– that moment when voters actually start tuning in to the messages campaigns deliver.

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Disrupting Political Advertising

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The Federal Elections Commissions calculates that in the 2012 Election Cycle more than $5.2 billion was spent by federal candidates and the PACs trying to influence the outcome of these elections. That’s just federal elections. It doesn’t count state and local political campaigns from Governor to School Board.

Estimates on overall political spending vary, but low-ball calculations show that more than $10 billion was spent on American political campaigns in 2012 alone, and the reality is that the total could be in excess of $20 billion when all the “shadow spending” is included. Almost all of this astronomical total went to paid media, and most of the media money was spent on advertising on television, on the radio and through the mailbox.

No wonder most of us are so sick of political advertising.

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