Your Money and Your Votes

For most of the last 30 years, the conventional wisdom in political campaigns - at least at the federal level - was to spend most of the advertising budget on broadcast television.  It may have made sense when broadcast TV was the dominant medium, but it doesn't make sense today.  

The past decade has brought an explosion in new ways to communicate with voters that, combined with new technologies, has made it possible to reach specific, narrowly targeted voting segments. While online ads, mobile communication, and social network organizing all should be considered as part of a campaign's communication planning, one of the biggest shortcomings of Democrats and progressives (as described in yesterday's post) is their failure to take advantage of cable television's microtargeting potential.

A couple facts:  In 2002, for the first time, a bigger share of the TV audience was watching on cable than on broadcast. In 2006, 56% were watching on cable and just 44% on broadcast TV.

So why do so many political consultants continue to recommend that candidates dump most of their communications dollars into broadcast TV?  

More after the jump.

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Pssst ... Wanna Buy an Ad?

There really shouldn't be anything scandalous about buying ads for political campaigns.  But anyone who reads progressive blogs knows that there's a lot of concern about how it's being done by and for Democratic campaigns.

Matt Stoller invited us to post a five-part series, beginning today and continuing the rest of this week, to talk about one facet of media buying, cable TV, and to share our analysis of cable buying by Democratic groups in three hotly-contested congressional districts in 2006.  

The analysis begins after the jump.

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Dems to Get Huge Boost from Univision Latino Citizenship Drive

Spanish-language television giant Univision has launched a wildly successful campaign urging its audience to become U.S. citizens - and it may pay huge dividends for Democrats. According to an article in Thursday's Wall Street Journal, Univision's initial run of the campaign in Los Angeles caused citizenship applications to jump  123 percent in the first three months of the year compared to the first three months of last year (compared to a 59 percent increase in the rest of the United States). Now, Univision is sending its campaign national and similar results are expected nationwide - with major gains forecast for Democrats as a result.

The citizenship drive, which is about to go national, could help turn Latinos into a key electoral constituency in several states. A larger bloc of new Latino voters would likely influence the immigration debate that has been dividing the country. In part because of this, Hispanic voters in recent elections have tended to cast ballots mostly for Democrats. For instance, in the 2006 congressional contest, Republican candidates who take a harder line on illegal immigrants than their rivals garnered only 31% of the Latino vote.

Apart from immigration, Hispanics are animated by education and employment policies, so their greater participation could shape candidates' stances on those issues as well. Given past voting patterns, "a surge in naturalizations will benefit Democrats at least twice as much as Republicans," said Roberto Suro, director of the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research organization. The impact could be biggest in Southwestern states such as Arizona, but it could reach as far as Florida, which recently has experienced a large influx of non-Cuban Hispanic immigrants.

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DCCC Ups Ad Buy by $20 Million

House Democrats are getting increasingly optimistic about their chances for this fall, so much so that they have increased their television ad buy for this fall by more than two-thirds. Patrick O'Connor reports for The Hill.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has reserved $51.5 million of television advertising in 32 congressional districts.

The allocation reveals an aggressive posture toward the midterm elections, with 27 Republican-held districts targeted and only five Democratic districts identified as needing the defense of DCCC cash.

[...]

The $51.5 million total exceeds previously reported figures by $20 million and confirms that Democrats will be on offense for much of the fall in states such as Connecticut, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Ohio as Republicans circle the wagons to protect their majority in the House.

It's good to see the DCCC expanding the field, though targeting 27 Republican seats when as many as twice that number are either competitive today or have the potential to be competitive.

However, I find it at least somewhat ironic that the DCCC would announce such a large expenditure on the same day that caucus leaders went public with complaints that the Democratic National Committee under Howard Dean was not devoting enough resources to the party's get-out-the-vote effort. If caucus leaders were indeed so concerned as to open up an intraparty rift so close to election day then perhaps one might think that they would announce a major investment in GOTV instead of a big ad buy.

Given the fact that that the Democratic Party's finances are in a better shape than they have ever been before and that Howard Dean is bringing in more hard dollars than any previous party chairman -- in addition, of course, to the party's strong generic congressional ballot strength and lead in polling from individual races around the country -- I think it would behoove party leaders to spend more time trying to create synergies, and thus a robust, united GOTV effort than they do bickering publicly about strategy.

Update [2006-8-3 3:31:8 by Jonathan Singer]:Jesse Lee over at the DCCC on the expanding field of races: "Don't worry, still not done."

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Indecency Warrior's Campaign Peaking - Brent Bozell's Push May Spur Legislation

Profile: Indecency Warrior's Campaign Peaking- Brent Bozell's Push May Spur Legislation

By Doug Halonen

Television Week

May 15, 2006

If federal lawmakers, as widely anticipated, soon move to approve legislation that cracks down on indecent television programming, the multibillion-dollar media industry will have to concede defeat largely to one man: L. Brent Bozell III.

Mr. Bozell, 50, is president and founder of the watchdog Parents Television Council, the group widely credited for spurring the Federal Communications Commission to hand down millions of dollars of indecency fines to broadcasters over the past couple of years. The PTC is leading the lobbying charge on Capitol Hill that could soon raise the cap on the FCC broadcast indecency fines by tenfold or more.

"Whatever they're paying him, they ought to triple it," said Jack Valenti, former chief of the Motion Picture Association of America.

"[The PTC is] definitely pushing the agenda on the Hill," said Jim Dyke, executive director of TV Watch, an organization founded by major TV networks to combat PTC and other critics of television programming.

Mr. Bozell is on the industry's radar screen now because legislation by Sen. Sam Brownback,

R-Kan., that would raise the cap on FCC indecency fines from $32,500 to $325,000 may be headed for a vote by the Senate Commerce Committee within the next couple of weeks.

The House has already approved a measure that would raise the cap to $500,000 and that includes other provisions that could result in FCC license revocation for stations with repeat offenses. To make matters worse for the industry, some leading lawmakers are threatening to bring the House bill directly to the Senate floor for a vote.

Despite their grudging admiration for the discomfort Mr. Bozell has caused them, industry officials attack his methods.

According to television industry insiders, much of Mr. Bozell's organization, which claims more than 1 million members, can be viewed as a phantom of sorts. The PTC grossly exaggerates concerns about programming by using computer-generated form-letter complaints that its members can file with the click of a button on their computers, Mr. Bozell's critics said.

"He's very clever at what he does, which is to manufacture complaints and intimate that there's a mass movement in America that wants to censor television," said Jonathan Rintels, executive director of the Hollywood watchdog Center for Creative Voices in Media.

In an interview last week Mr. Bozell said it is irrelevant that PTC campaigns, which have generated many of the thousands of complaints received at the FCC over the past couple of years, are conducted via e-mail.

"Who cares how [PTC members] do it?" Mr. Bozell said.

Mr. Bozell said PTC's campaign to clean up the nation's airwaves originally launched in 1995. The push, he said, started as a spinoff from the Media Research Center, a conservative organization that Mr. Bozell also heads. The research group's mission is to document what it sees as liberal bias in the media.

In a switch for Mr. Bozell, who once was president of the now-defunct National Conservative Political Action Committee and is a nephew of National Review founder William F. Buckley Jr., he said he consciously tried to give PTC a broad appeal by making it nonpartisan.

To some extent, it can be argued that he succeeded. Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., once served on PTC's advisory board. Sen. Brownback is still a member.

But the ultimate secret to PTC's success, according to Mr. Bozell, was that it tapped into a sense of outrage over TV programming.

"We didn't create the outrage," Mr. Bozell said. "The outrage has been out there for years."

Mr. Bozell credits a PTC newspaper advertising campaign during the late 1990s for putting his group on the map.

The full-page newspaper ad, featuring the late entertainer Steve Allen, appealed to the public's concerns about programming quality. Before the ad was dropped in 2000, it ran more than 1,350 times, and brought more than 500,000 members to PTC's fold, Mr. Bozell said.

"We just woke a sleeping giant," he said.

The exposure of Janet Jackson's breast during CBS's coverage of the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show helped fuel the flames.

"What happened on the Janet Jackson episode is that all of America-given the venue-saw how bad the situation had become, that a network would countenance a striptease on the Super Bowl," Mr. Bozell said. "There was just no containing the outrage at that point."

Industry officials fear the organization's campaign may be doing irreparable harm to First Amendment values.

"They want, in my judgment, to impose their views of what they think of right and wrong on other people," Mr. Valenti said.

"We're entering a Bozellian world where a few will make a decision about what we all see on television," said TV Watch's Mr. Dyke.

But Mr. Bozell, who has five children and describes himself as a Civil War buff and a fan of bullfights, said that PTC's success is ultimately based on support from the public.

"From day one, it was a David-versus-Goliath thing, little old us against a multibillion-dollar industry," he said.

http://www.tvweek.com/news.cms?newsId=99 96

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