Rep. Eric Cantor and House Republicans have drawn criticism from both left and right for their YouCut program, which lets citizens vote to eliminate wasteful government programs. The word “gimmick” is tossed around by both sides – as if bumper stickers, lawn signs, and other efforts to earn political support aren’t gimmicks – while making the point that the cuts proposed wouldn’t trim federal spending by all that much.
But in the GOP’s defense, this is about continuing the message that the Republicans are the party of smaller government. There’s no better case against the concept of government spending than to point out the most egregious and unnecessary examples.
Plus, as it turns out, this is a pretty good way to build and maintain a strong list of activists.
TechPresident told the story yesterday of Vanessa Sievers, a junior at Dartmouth University and now the Grafton County (N.H.) Treasurer-elect. Sievers campaign strategy relied heavily on $51 worth of Facebook ads. She defeated the incumbent by 600 votes.
The most obvious lesson is that microtargeting works: Sievers figured that to win, she would need her fellow Dartmouth students as well as those at nearby Plymouth State. Given that New Hampshire was a swing state and how feverishly the Obama campaign focused on turning out young voters, she had lots of help. So she made sure they knew her name by advertising in a venue that was high visibility but low expense. She worked smarter rather than harder.
But there’s another lesson: if you want to see things change, you don’t always have to wait for someone else to do it. If a college junior was able to pick off a 68-year-old incumbent, there are opportunities for you in your community. As Woody Allen famously said, “80% of success in life is just showing up.”