Crummy Little Podcast Episode 2: Beverly Hallberg

District Media Group Founder and President Beverly Hallberg is one of the savviest media professionals in Washington, D.C., and she did a great job previewing the upcoming Republican debate on this week’s Crummy Little Podcast. She also talks about why Hillary Clinton isn’t connecting with voters (and why Bernie Sanders is). There’s even some baseball talk at the end.

Download the podcast here or check it out on iTunes.

The Republican debate is set up all wrong

No kidding, right? But there are two big problems with the debate to talk about in this weekend’s post at Communities Digital News.

In reality, fitting a giant candidate field into an hour long debate is a square peg-round hole problem. The networks, sponsors, and even the Republican party are trying to figure out how to handle a historically large field using the same promotion vehicles they used when only a handful of people could afford to mount a primary campaign.

It may not happen every single cycle, but it will happen again. Networks need to use the 2016 primary season to figure out how to handle it.

He’s Trump! He’s Trump! He’s in their heads. (Sorry.)

Donald Trump is leading the pack? Not so fast. This week’s post at Communities Digital News does some critical analysis of those results that news media ought to be doing. The polls the news reports are citing aren’t looking in the right places, nor are they asking questions of the right people. They should know better than to project a front runner off of that but knowing better probably doesn’t help attract eyeballs.

In a just-recorded podcast episode with friend-of-the-program Matt Lewis (and some post-podcast discussions) he pointed out that there is a legitimate affinity for Trump. It is kind of nice to see a Republican who doesn’t walk on eggshells and apologize for his or her beliefs, which is something too many national GOP figures do. So there is something to Trump’s early support.

But is it anything more than name recognition? FiveThirtyEight doesn’t think so.

In reality, showing up to vote is much different from answering a telephone poll, especially in caucus states. It takes a lot of hard, specialized work. That’s why Trump’s fundraising will be interesting to watch, even if he doesn’t really need the money. For all his millions, fundraising shows an organizational discipline that can translate to other fields as well.

Hillary Clinton’s razor-thin 38-point polling advantage

That’s Hillary Clinton’s average lead among non-white voters over various Republican candidates in the head-to-head questions from the CNN/ORC poll released on Tuesday. But the 64-68% support range she hovers might not be enough. As discussed in this week’s post on Communities Digital News, Clinton is lagging behind President Obama’s 82%-16% edge among non-white voters during his re-election.

All the headlines yapped about the Republican field closing the gap on Clinton. That’s important psychologically, but we all knew the race would tighten. This a much bigger potential problem for Clinton.

The difference between where Clinton sits and Obama’s 2012 performance translates into Mitt Romney carrying Florida, Virginia, and Ohio – with a real shot at picking up either Nevada or Colorado for an Electoral College majority. Again, this doesn’t anticipate any minority votes moving from the blue column to the red column; those are only lost votes.

That’s a real big problem for Clinton, who will surely try to exploit police/community relations as a wedge issue.

Maybe Clinton still gets by with a little help from her friends. The NAACP will surely try to literally scare up black voters with images of Freddie Gray and Michael Brown. The arbotion industry will try to do the same with women. Plus, there’s always fraud.

But the point is that she has to do something, because she isn’t inheriting the Obama coalition – at least, not in the numbers she needs.

These cupcakes, they taste a little… a little… ACK!

CGYjaYiVIAIZCr5Hillary knelt down, staring at the pastry for several minutes before she spoke . “These,” she finally said, her voice barely above a whisper, “will do nicely.”

“It’s become so easy,” she continued, standing and smoothing her suit jacket under her anxious palms. “For all the money that goes into these campaigns, this is the blind spot. There are dozens of people who tell you how to shoot your next commercial, so many who will gladly go door to door. But no one hires food tasters any more.”

Hillary turned to the aide, her eyes wide and her smile broad. “And arsenic is so very, very cheap when you know the right baker.”

“Send a dozen to O’Malley. Include a card: ‘Welcome to the race. I know you’ll see it through to the end.'” Hillary turned to leave.

The aide paused the furious scribbling in her notebook. “O-O’Malley?” she stammered. “But he’s so far behind…”

Hillary wheeled, her smile melted away and her eyes burning with fury. In an instant her face was an inch away from the whimpering aide’s.

“It’s not about O’Malley, dammit, it’s about sending a message!” Hillary growled. Then, as soon as it started, the storm subsided and her face relapsed into its familiar, painted smile. Calmly, Hillary turned to leave as she gave a final order.

“Oh, and don’t forget to sign the card: ‘Love, H.'”

The fake research that almost had real impact

A campaign in support of same sex marriage used in-person conversations and personal stories – and it measurably changed opinions. Sounds legit, right? Well, it turned out the whole thing was fake.

The most sophisticated campaigns usually don’t bother trying to change voters’ minds on issues. Moving opinions, especially on deeply-held beliefs, seemed to happen over much longer periods of time and include forces outside politics. Candidates deal with the realities of their electorate. In many ways, a campaign doesn’t convince voters to agree with the candidate, but that the candidate agrees with them — and downplays the areas of disagreement… LaCour and Green’s study turned this model on its head — until other researchers determined that the original survey data had been fabricated.

Read more in this week’s post at Communities Digital News.

Something Hillary got right

It’s been a fun week to make fun of Hillary Clinton, but she knocked one aspect of her video announcement clean out of the park. As I discussed in my latest Communities Digital News post, Clinton only appears onscreen in her own video for fifteen seconds out of 2:15, and in that time she is either addressing the camera or talking with voters.

Except, she isn’t talking to the voters. In every shot, they are talking to her.

Many political ads and videos have a shot of the candidate meeting with supporters. Usually, in those shots the candidate is dispensing wisdom to a small group of supporters. Check out the very first shot from this ad from Terry McAuliffe’s successful 2013 Virginia gubernatorial campaign:

Candidates must do this to show that their leadership. (Though every time I see this type of shot, the audience looks like they are waiting for the candidate to pause so they can break out of the conversation.) But everything her week-old campaign has done so far has made it obvious Clinton is bending over backward to give the impression that she isn’t full of herself.  So in her video, she listens – sometimes with crazy eyes, but she listens.

Surely, Republican candidates expect to be vilified by Democratically aligned special interest groups in the upcoming cycle. For conservative candidates looking to prove their empathetic chops, subtle visual cues like this can go a long way.