by Chris Bowers, Mon Nov 22, 2004 at 03:54:50 PM EST
So, I know that the Kerry campaign eventually did have house parties and even put a lot of emphasis on it. But, they got there reluctantly and it was too late. My proposal to them talked about the math-- a percentage of the people who go to house parties tend to host their own. The sooner you start holding these, the more people you'll reach over a many-month period. The Kerry campaign didn't get their house party program going for about four months after I had talked with them extensively about the benefits of a program like this for getting out the vote.(...)
My proposal to the Kerry campaign in February was to organize the house parties by precincts in all states, including the crucial swing states. These would be neighborhood house parties, not simply fundraisers of our most like-thinking political friends. The Dean campaign did this in New Hampshire. Cesar Chavez did this organizing Latino migrant workers decades ago. (...)
The GOP Amway-style pyramid relies on neighbors but is so top-down that I don't see it working well for Dems. Dems like creativity and input into how they do things, in my experience. I thought neighborhood-based grassroots house parties could have been a key strategy that might have been as effective or even more effective than the Amway-style pyramids but it was a strategy that needed many months to be built. It would be more decentralized than the GOP top-down strategy, but the Kerry campaign would have given local folks the tools and encouragement to make it happen.OK, so we needed more neighbors talking to neighbors, and we identify local Meetups coupled with local House Parties as a way to pull this off. However, would it really work, and is it really worth the resources?
The third and final article, the one that completed the synthesis for me, comes from a dailykos dairy by user danthrax. In this article, he discusses a new study and decries the utter ineffectiveness of the large scale marketing during the campaign, as only 4.7% of all voters actually changed their mind from Super Tuesday until November 2nd (emphasis in original):There are two interesting things about the study. The first is the data itself:
The study reveals that only 4.7 percent of voters nationwide switched their choice of candidate during the course of the election. And while a slight majority (59 percent) of those that did switch did so relatively late in the game (from October through Election Day)(...)
Here's the media math, according to Draft: Presidential candidates spent $910 million on advertising to sway undecideds or switch voters from one candidate to another, an average of $110 per opinion changer. At that rate, candidates might consider bypassing the advertising altogether and simply paying voters for their support. Oh yeah, that's right. Someone already did that. It's called tax cuts.(...)
We live in an age where people are cynical of advertising, and any frontman is looked upon with skepticism. This is how people can hear a fierce indictment of Bush, but then quickly hear a fierce indictment of Kerry, and end up scratching their head about who's telling the truth. Moreso, they may even hate both messengers, since they are convinced that they are both lying.
In marketing-speak, the only messenger that has preserved its power over the consumer is "the influential". The influential is the one person in a small community of friends or relatives who sets the trend for anything, from what music or clothing is hot, to attitudes on celebrity figures, to voting habits. In other words, the most effective way to break through the cynicism that leaves opinions deadlocked is at the grassroots level.
Instead of blowing money on television ads in 16 battleground states, we need to empower our volunteers and help find them a way to meet other likeminded people and turn them onto politics and the Democratic party. And at the immediate moment, that means we need a party that respects and appreciates our volunteers.And then, it suddenly hit me. We can run a fifty-state strategy while simultaneously breaking through the cynicism of marketing and win people to the Democratic cause by using Meetups as places to coordinate precinct-by-precinct House parties that are hosted by "influentials" who are volunteers but are given at least some guidance by the national and/or local party. The House Parties would focus on the Democratic Party itself. We could do this in every precinct in the nation. We could do this in off years. In fact, we could do this without much money at all!
This is not a silver bullet--nothing is. I am not suggesting, as danthrax does, that we stop our massive advertising campaigns. I am certainly not suggesting that we cut back on our excellent door-to-door targeted GOTV efforts that we implemented this year. However, it seems as though this House Party plan has the possibility to significantly assist the party in turning its fortunes around. We turn over a large amount of the marketing of the party directly to the people who are best able to market it in our contemporary age of political cynicism: influentials who can talk to family and friends. We let them do it in a fun, social and emotional atmosphere. We can do it everywhere, and we can do it on the cheap. We could do it to the benefit of all our candidates and ideas. Considering we already have the Meetup structure and House Party plans in place, we could start doing it as early as February or March.
So, now that I have written it out, you tell me--does this make as much sense as I think it does?