Spending in Iowa
by Jerome Armstrong, Sat Nov 17, 2007 at 05:46:39 PM EST
The NYT's has a chart showing their recent polling juxtaposed with the amount of television that the candidates have spent in Iowa. It goes to show that TV is no longer all it's pumped up to be, especially when/if they are mostly (or only) buying broadcast. Anyway, check out the chart:
On the Democratic side, for every 1 ad that Edwards has run, Obama has ran 9, and Clinton has ran 5, and yet, when you look at who regularly attends the caucuses, John Edwards has the lead; and even among those polled is right there in the mix. I think given Obama's huge spend at this date, he's probably reached his ceiling of support in the state. The other candidate thats already blown his wad in Iowa is Richardson, who got a bump off of it, but hasn't been able to keep growing his numbers. And it looks like, if Biden can get the money, that he's going to see some upward movement. And if I were to guess at whose expense a Biden bump would be, it'd be Clinton & Richardson I'd choose.
I know there are polls out there showing Clinton with a stronger lead in Iowa, but it's becoming obvious that the universe of those polled includes voters that don't usually caucus, even they say so:...the Clinton campaign has bolstered its activity here in recent weeks, hiring 100 new workers to concentrate on a person-to-person drive to explain the quirky process of the caucuses, with a goal of having 50,000 in-home visits by Christmas.
More than 60 percent of those who have identified themselves as Clinton supporters, senior strategists say, have never participated in the Iowa caucuses. It is a far higher share than the campaign had been anticipating, which suggests that many of the reliable rank-and-file Democrats have chosen another candidate. So the Clinton campaign is working to expand its universe of supporters to women who have never participated.The Clinton campaign must have polled and segmented and projected that, with the given caucus universe, they just can't win in Iowa-- recall their internal memo earlier this spring that considered ditching the state. So instead, the focus moves to the technique of expanding the caucus universe.
Obama, given how much he's spent already on TV, is probably coming to the same conclusion-- he can't win with the current universe of caucus attendees. So like Clinton, he's got to identify supporters that haven't caucused, educate them about the process, and get them there the night of the vote on January 3rd.
There's probably some unique internet-activities that the campaigns are not considering that would probably help them in their task. They have their emails probably, why not set up a survey process that identifies how knowledgeable their supporters are, and it'd also serve to show who can be considered 'hard' support (as opposed to 'soft') by identifying who is willing in Iowa among their supporters to take the time to fill out an online survey.
I don't have a candidate in this race now, but when I was working for Warner, we did a mailing of about 70K of the caucus attendees for issue ID, and supplemented it with handing out palm cards at the steak fry in '06 with a unique url, paid online advertising for the poll, and emailing everyone we could in Iowa. It wound up doubling our response rate to getting an issue id on about 8% of those whom we could identify as caucus attendees. Then a few weeks later Warner dropped out... and now we have our backs to the wall in Virginia for his very tough Senate run.
Its just a point I'm making, that while all this money is being blown on television in Iowa by Clinton and Obama, I doubt very much they are investing in doing anything unique over the internet (beyond integration of the VAN), or I'm just not aware of it. I'm not all that surprised that Obama's campaign is doing this; afterall, his chief strategist and campaign manager partner Obama's media firm; nor Clinton's because they have a very traditional mindset for their internet strategy; nor Edwards, cause they think they have a proven ground strategy in which they believe. Plus, the TV media consultants just don't believe the internet is still worth anything more than serving as a cash cow, especially for Iowa. If you ask them why, and I know this as I've done battle with them, there's also this asinine assumption that Iowans are too rural to be online. And nevermind the facts that show they are online or that businesses obviously think different, I saw this directly refuted by the minimal internet things I did with Warner. I found, with about 10,000 sign-ups during in Iowa during '06, that a mash-up showed were spread out throughout the entire state. I'm just astounded with the spill of cash in Iowa that the campaigns don't think to use the internet beyond emails and decentralized organizing nearly enough, if at all.
On a brighter note, it sounds as if all three are running what I would call the long-tail caucus strategy in Iowa, by going after supporters in every precinct (note to self to post more on this fascinating strategy that's unique to Iowa's caucus count of the votes).
Anyway, it looks like we could see Obama (& Romney) spend past $10M in TV ads in Iowa before the caucuses, which would blow away whatever Dean spent there last cycle. That's a huge waste of resources, so his supporters better hope he's also spending that amount on bringing in new caucus voters. Instead, to date, Obama's strategy has counted on Edwards fading, and it becoming a one-on-one race between Obama and Clinton in Iowa, which is not happening.
We all know that if Clinton wins in Iowa, the nomination is over. What's more interesting for us pure political junkies to think about is if Clinton doesn't win, then what? Well, assuming Clinton doesn't win in Iowa for a moment, then the media is going to want a two-way narrative, so it turns on who finishes in 3rd place.
If Obama comes in 3rd in Iowa, he's not recovering. The media will totally write him off, and Edwards will face the task of following up. If Edwards finishes 3rd, he's done, and Obama will have a one-on-one against Clinton in New Hampshire. If Clinton finishes 3rd, it's probably better for her than if she finishes 2nd, as then the story will still be a 3-way race (and that probably favors a comeback for her in NH).
Since this has turned into one big long Iowa thought (Chase got me thinking and rambling) spill, let me also talk about who might surge late. Joe Biden. Lets say that he gets some compelling ads up, breaks into double-digits, and gets the Des Moines Register endorsement... huh? You never know, he could wind up with some Joementum.
As for the Republicans, it's obvious that barring some incredible meltdown or attack ads against him, Huckabee is going to win Iowa.