As discussed previously, no one is quite sure what to make of location-based networks yet – to the point where Christopher Walling of Project Virginia makes a compelling case that such technology won’t be impactful until at least 2012:
Not only are campaigns unable to reach a significant amount of voters, but I also don’t see using an LBSN [location-based social network] to disclose your candidate’s location as an overly effective tactic. Most of the venues that candidates will “check-in” at are campaign events or fundraisers, which most would expect them to attend anyway. If candidates choose to “check-in” at more “off-the-radar” locations, then they are essentially giving political trackers and their opponents an upper-hand, (don’t forget this is the year of the tracker) which could lead to more unsavory “gotcha” moments.
Not only is Walling right on about the time frame, he’s also right on about the concept of candidates checking in being kind of dumb – thought not because of the army of interns on both sides with flip video cameras and attitude problems.
Social networks involve two-way communication rather than one-way broadcast communication. That’s why good online strategists look for opportunities to engage with supporters, rather than simply building giant email lists. The bottom line is that few voters give a crap where a candidate is.
On the other hand, an activist may want everyone to know that he or she just checked into Campaign HQ to stuff envelopes for three hours; or they may want to know where polling places are. If they have three hours to kill on a weekend, they may want to know if there’s a neighborhood nearby where no one has gotten around to knocking on doors.
In other words,it isn’t important for the candidate to be active for a campaign to get a lot out of a location-based social network; but as Walling mentions early on in his post, the supporters sure have to be.
Mr. ACORN pimp himself, James O’Keefe, announced via Twitter today that Rep. Maxine Waters would be the subject of his next series of videos. Here’s the preview:
Two things are evident: O’Keefe still understands the power of online video, and he still understands the power of timing.
The ethics charges flying around various Democrats are starting to look like a trend – much like Republican scandals leading up to the 2006 election painted the picture of a power-happy party inviting a rude awakening at the hands of voters. Getting Waters on camera in a sting operation like this could make the ethics violations very real to voter and underscore the broken promises of Democratic gains in 2006 and 2008.
But on top of that, you can’t say enough about O’Keefe’s media-savvy release strategy, either.
By releasing a teaser, O’Keefe capitalizes on this week’s news cycle about Waters and her ethics charges. After controversy surrounding his presence in a Senate office earlier this year (and the storm surrounding his associate Andrew Breitbart’s role in the Shirley Sherrod affair), he can expect that this initial release will lead to a round of denouncement from left-leaning talking heads; for a while the story will be that James O’Keefe has a Waters video. The Congresswoman’s office will likely be asked to comment; maybe she’ll even say something embarrassing and unwittingly drum up more coverage.
True, O’Keefe could have gotten just as much coverage this week by releasing a completed video. But what about next week? This strategy allows O’Keefe, after the initial frenzy, to drop a second video and get another round of coverage. And, the vile and hatred he receives from the left this week may make the release of the full video that much more newsworthy.
If it sounds familiar, it should – it’s exactly how O’Keefe and Breitbart set up ACORN to take itself down.
It isn’t going out on a limb to say that Len Britton likely won’t beat Patrick Leahy to become the next U.S. Senator from Vermont. But he has used a couple of campaign videos to point out the problem of government overspending, and who foots the bill:
In another video, the creepy government guy hands Billy and his family a check for their share of the national debt. When Billy points out that it’s a lot of money, creepy government guy taunts, “Better get a paper route, Billy!”
The videos have received national attention, because they deliver a message in a creative, funny way. They’re also excellent examples of the right way to run an extremely uphill race.
I’m not very familiar with Britton’s campaign, so he could be an insane, foil hat-wearing Lyndon Larouche backer who thinks that the destruction of the Death Star was God’s revenge for the Empire’s tolerance of same-sex Jawa marriage. But based on this limited sample, Britton uses his underdog status to make his point in a way that would scare off many campaigns in the thick of a close race. If Britton were to drop this strategy to rant about the President’s birth certificate, Sarah Palin’s baby, or some other conspiracy theory for the deranged the damage to his personal credibility will be dwarfed by the damage he does to the Republican brand.
Britton may wind up underfunded, and his videos may be limited to their viral appeal, and it may not be enough to keep Leahy from wiping the floor with him come November. But this isn’t the last election in Vermont, so this video and the messages it carries can still set the table for victory – even if it isn’t until Billy’s old enough to vote.
In this commercial, Sen. Barbara Boxer is seeking reelection by fending off Sarah Palin – who not only isn’t running, but isn’t from California.
Meanwhile, Carly Fiorina is not only challenging Boxer, but Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. Countless Republicans will take to the campaign trail in the next few months railing against President Obama, countless Democrats will dredge up the ghost of George W. Bush.
It’s an accepted (and effective) campaign tactic, made especially famous in 1994 when Republicans used then-new technology to morph images of opponents into Bill Clinton. So why stop here? Why not run against Jimmy Carter? Richard Nixon? Maybe President Mitchell from Dave (the real one, not the one that was actually Dave)?
Politics in the Carolinas has been good for comedians over the last few weeks, and Congressman Bob Etheridge was able to keep it going with this now-famous video:
“Who are you?”?!? He’s a guy with a camera, genius.
That’s what makes this so hilarious: Etheridge had all the cards and lost the hand.
Option A: Some scrubby little schmuck with a camera and a blue blazer comes pointing a camera in his face, and apparently asks if he supports “the Obama Agenda.” A smile, a polite question back (“Well, what do you think the ‘Obama Agenda’ is, sir?”), and a re-framing of the issue (“I support policies that will help my constituents, and I’ll work with anyone who wants to help – yes, if they’re the President of the United States.”) and this go away. Congressman Etheridge walks away laughing, and the kid with his face blurred out has no good footage. Or, if he’s feeling especially saucy, he stays and has a civil discussion – after all, he has to have an intellectual foundation for what he believes in. If camera boy doesn’t want to be civil, chuckle and invite him to your office sometime for coffee to talk further.
Option B: Grab his arm, bear hug him like you’re posing for a picture, and ask him who he is. Gain internet fame.
Etheridge, who has obviously never heard the phrase, “Don’t lose your temper except on purpose,” chose B. He chose poorly.
The fallout could go beyond Etheridge’s own district, too. The video offers another example of Congressional egotism and entitlement. News media outlets like to talk about an anti-incumbent sentiment among the electorate, but that can’t exist without folks like Congressman Etheridge stoking the flame.
Picking the winners in most of today’s primary contests is easy, according to the polls. Much more interesting, though, is reading the tea leaves and trying to gauge what the results mean – specifically in Arkansas.
As mentioned after the Democrat primary was sent to a runoff weeks ago, Bill Halter’s challenge to Sen. Blanche Lincoln is not about her standing with Arkansas’s non-existent liberal base. It does reflect that many Arkansans feel disenchanted, and the word on the street is that this malaise will bring Halter to victory.
Lincoln has tried to fight back by painting Halter as the puppet of national left-wing interests, working through the most famous Arkansas politician in history:
Bill Clinton, a Lincoln supporter, has gotten in on the act as well, appearing at a Little Rock rally last week and now in a television commercial in which he decries the influence of national unions on the race. “This is about using you and manipulating your votes,” the former president says. “If you want to be Arkansas’ advocate, vote for somebody who will fight for you.”
Clinton then got on a plane and flew back to either New York or Washington D.C., the two places he has lived for the past 17 years since he was elected President and his wife was elected as a Senator from a state that is not Arkansas.
But despite the idea that Halter is “too liberal” for Arkansas, that could dramatically help Democrats’ chances of keeping this seat.
Halter isn’t campaigning to the left of Lincoln in state, but he does benefit from left-wing energy from out of state. Much like Scott Brown’s insurgent campaign, Halter’s website allows anyone to chip in with GOTV phone calls. Donations are still pouring in, too. That won’t subside in the coming months, as liberal activists sense the chance to basically turn a seat from a squishy vote to a solid vote on their key issues. If Halter can continue to enjoy the fruits of national energy without alienating Arkansas voters, he will be a much more formidable candidate than Lincoln – who, despite the advantage of incumbency, would not have enjoyed those benefits.
Though they haven’t shown up quite yet, the phrase of the day is “sponsored tweets” – Twitter’s long-overdue way to make money off its product. (When you hear anyone say “sponsored tweets,” scream real loud!)
I’ve searched a few terms that seemed like good candidates for these ads to show up but haven’t seen a sponsored tweet yet – which may be the first time anyone has ever wanted to see advertising but couldn’t find it.
Sponsored tweets do offer a new political tactic in advance of the 2010 elections. Candidates have been using Google ads to frame themselves and their opponents for years, and 2010 will be no exception. Search engine and Facebook ads, though, are closer to traditional advertising: you see creative (text or a picture), and if it’s interesting enough you take some sort of action. Clicking on an online ad is a more instant (and measurable) reaction that buying something after seeing a television commercial, but the concept is the same.
Twitter ads appear to be more message advertising – so the “creative” may not even come directly from the ad sponsor. Lets say you’re working for Republican Keith Fimian, running against Rep. Gerald Connolly to represent Virginia’s lovely 10th district (which includes this blog). If someone searches for Connolly on Twitter, you might sponsor a tweet from a voter or activist – rather than from the official Fimian campaign Twitter account – that calls on Connolly to get heaved out of office.
This strategy has been tested somewhat with Google ads, but mostly as a joke – searching for John McCain, for instance, might bring up sponsored links for the AARP. But Twitter ads give brands – political or corporate – a chance to use third party voices to frame search results. No doubt this will become as much art as science as the 2010 elections approach.