In the final days of the campaign two new media efforts caught my eye...
Firstly, as much as viral video has been a part of various elections, I came across one implementation that would reward attention.
In the online video space in addition to YouTube and it's various clones, another there is a company called Brightcove...I've been a fan of their solution for a while now...it is a commercial platform for ad supported or subscription commercial net delivered video content. This allows small or large businesses to stream their content to users over the Internet, but it also gives buisnesses nearly complete control over the user interface, branding, unlike services such as YouTube.
The first political effort I've seen using Brightcove solution is Deval Patrick in the Massachusets Governor's race...Check out Deval Patrick TV to get a sense of what Brightcove enables, and what they did with it... Good stuff.
Secondly, in a season that saw the first nascent mobile efforts by folks like John Edwards, Arnold Schwarzenegger's, Rick Santorum, etc...I've come across the best integrated mobile call to action in a traditional campaign commercial that I've seen yet. It's from the Coalition for Progress...Here it is...
If a prize were given for the best political coverage of the American economy over the last 6 months, it would be won - hands down - by the Financial Times. They were the first to spot that wages and incomes would come to define the debate about why the growing economy isn't electorally popular. And despite a solid pro-business line (and readership), their DC writers have been exceedingly fair and balanced on the issues. Over the last two days they have had two exceptional, long interesting articles - the first yesterday explaning why the economy isn't winning the GOP any votes, the second today looking at the comensurate rise of economic populism (and anti-trade rhetoric) during the election. I'll quote from both of these later in the day when i can get the text; the FT doesn't give it away for free, sadly. They do, however, let you read their editorials. And this, from today's paper, is bang on the mark.
Republicans have presided over a period of exceptional economic growth. Yet this will not, apparently, win them next week's mid-term elections. This is only partly because of the chaos in Iraq and the scandals that beset them. It is also because middle-income American families have gained so little from the surging economy. The Republican response has been to ignore the problem. The Democrats have pandered to protectionism. Both reactions are -misguided.....
.....The forces behind this development include technology, the rise of winners-take-all markets, globalisation and also, perhaps, immigration. Together, these pressures have exacerbated inequality by increasing the rewards of skilled labour and, at the very top, of the most successful business-people, sports stars and entertainers. At the same time, they have undermined the position of lower-skilled workers...... The charge against the Republicans is that they have done nothing to stem the relative deterioration in middle incomes. True, wages may yet rise sharply later in the cycle. True, too, median real incomes have been adversely affected by the jump in the price of energy. But the impact of policy should not be ignored. In particular, Mr Bush's tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 predominantly benefited the rich......
.....The challenge for the Democrats is to find a credible political alternative. The right long-term strategy for them must be to embrace globalisation, while tackling its distributional impact. They should not shy away from higher taxes on the richest. But that is just a start. They should also suggest ways of using the proceeds to create opportunity for all.
A great deal of thinking has been done in recent years about a building a 21st century progressive infrastructure. New institutions like Center for American Progress, Media Matters, Democracy Journal, Copernicus, Platform Equity, the Blue Fund, Catalist and Air America has all benefited from political venture capitial meeting progressive entreprenuers eager to build a new and better capacities to bring our values and ideas to the American people.
We've always believed that an area that needed an immediate and critical re-think is the way we market, brand and sell our movement, institutions, ideas/values, leaders and candidates. It is not just about adopting and experimenting with all the new and game-changing tools becoming available today, it is about the content of the paid advertising itself. As the Washington Post points out today in a very good front page article, paid advertising is where most of our money goes in the progressive movement, and along with the impression people get through the media of how we govern, is the primary way people understand who we are and what we are about. And I for one am not convinced the way we communicate is as modern and or effective as it can be:
...."The Republican and Democratic parties dumped tens of millions of dollars this week on dozens of congressional races, locking up broadcast time yesterday for a blizzard of new advertising that will saturate the airwaves over the final weekend of the midterm campaign season.
Candidates rushed out more than 600 new television ads ahead of network deadlines for the weekend, with many Republicans trying to shift attention from Iraq and President Bush to local issues such as the environment, taxes and immigration. This final thrust will boost spending on political and issue advertising past $2 billion in this campaign, or $400 million more than in the 2004 presidential campaign, according to Evan Tracey of the Campaign Media Analysis Group.
"Politics is probably the only business in the world where they spend the most money when they have the least number of available customers to pitch to," Tracey said..."
I wrote earlier this week about how tv ads have changed this cycle, as our practioners are coming to terms with how broadcast tv norms have become exhausted and are experimenting with new ways to connect. This is becoming all the more urgent, as the speed in which we are leaving the broadcast era is increasing. Consider that over the next few years: half of all voters will come to own a DVR, making it likely they will skip a very high portion of tv ads; live, over-the-air broadcast TV will continue its dramatic decline, and reach perhaps only a third of all people watching TV on any given day; this year Google will sell as many search ads this year as ABC will TV ads; the kind of one to one marketing invisioned by Copernicus and Catalist will become commonplace; and a third of all voters will have broadband video on their phones, radically increasing the importance of viral video and other bottom-up, citizen-led viral networks.
I will have more on all this over the next few days, and will talk about how the three major media campaigns our community has funded in recent years have been built with all these transformations in mind.
Lots to think about. But that's what we do here at NDN and NPI. Your thoughts, as always, are welcome.
The latest Rothenberg ratings are out. With normal warnings about chickens, hatching, counting, and so forth, its very good news. Here are some key quotes:
The Senate: "While Senate control is in doubt, with Democrats most likely to win from 5 to 7 seats, we do not think the two sides have an equal chance of winning a majority in the Senate. Instead, we believe that state and national dynamics favor Democrats netting six seats and winning control of the United States Senate."
The House: "Going into the final days before the 2006 midterm elections, we believe the most likely outcome in the House of Representatives is a Democratic gain of 34 to 40 seats, with slightly larger gains not impossible. This would put Democrats at between 237 and 243 seats, if not a handful more, giving them a majority in the next House that is slightly larger than the one the Republicans currently hold. If these numbers are generally correct, we would expect a period of GOP finger-pointing and self-flagellation after the elections, followed by a considerable number of Republican House retirements over the next two years."
Governors: "With Republican seats like Idaho, Alaska, and Nevada in play for state-specific reasons, and Minnesota vulnerable to a Democratic wave, the ceiling for possible Democratic gains is high. We have narrowed our earlier projection from Democratic gains of 6-10 to 7-9."
I know we are putting out all political news all the time, but it bears pointing out another striking story this week on the trauma of traditional media, the bread and butter of politics of the past. I commented last week on the severe trauma in broadcast television companies, particularly NBC. But this week the news was just as severe, if not more so, for traditional newspapers.
The New York Times had a very good overarching story on how ALL major newspapers in the country (save three strange exceptions) significantly lost circulation in the last six months, in what is proving to be an inexorable slide. Even in the best papers:
“The Los Angeles Times lost 8 percent of its daily circulation and 6 percent on Sunday. The Boston Globe, owned by The New York Times Company, lost 6.7 percent of its daily circulation and almost 10 percent on Sunday.”
As we have pointed out repeatedly at the New Politics Institute, you can track this decline right alongside the appearance of personal computers and the growth in the internet. In fact, the Times points out that the peak of daily newspaper circulation came in 1984, which happens to be the year the IBM PC made its appearance. Since then, newspaper have lost 20 million subscriptions, a full one-third of the peak. From the NYT:
“Circulation for about half the nation's dailies had dropped to 43.7 million, down 2.8 percent, for the six months ending in September, compared with the same period last year. Daily circulation for all of the nation's papers reached its peak in 1984, at 63.3 million.”
The good news is that those papers that are shifting their strategy around the internet are seeing substantial success, though not enough yet to make up for the broadsheet revenue losses. However, you can see the seeds of a rebirth:
“The newspaper association said that for the third quarter of this year, 57 million people visited a newspaper Web site, an increase of 24 percent over the period a year ago. And revenues from online advertisers are growing.”
Politics has been conducted for the 20th century on the backs of two major media: newspapers and broadcast television. The 21st century will be very different. We are seeing irrefutable signs of it all around us.
Republicans seem intent on running against Nancy Pelosi, even if most voters have never heard of her. Maybe Democrats should be running against the man who is the likely next Republican leader in the House, Congressman John Boehner. As best I can tell, Boehner has an egg timer in his head, and when it goes off he goes off, and says the most awful thing in he can think of on short notice. Three of his most recent gems:
"I listen to my Democratic friends and I wonder if they’re more interested in protecting the terrorists than protecting the American people."
"Let's not blame what's happening in Iraq on Rumsfeld...The fact is, the generals on the ground are in charge, and he works closely with them and the president."
"If [John Kerry's] not going to apologize, we're going to beat him to death until he does." Watch that one on ThinkProgress.
Boehner must be seeing internal numbers that say the American electorate is really responding to this Republican Congress that is long on polarizing rhetoric and scandals and short on accomplishment. Anybody else think Boehner is drinking way too much of the Bush/Cheney/Rove politics of division flavored kool-aid?
A really excellent, heartening update on the polls from Ruy Teixeira over the equally excellent, data-rich Democratic strategist blog. Its very rich, but this is the gist of his points;
When I last checked in about the state of the race--about ten days ago--things looked pretty good for the Democrats. Now they look even better..... Take the generic congressional contest, for example. In the nine polls finished since 10/20 that are listed on PollingReport.com, the Democrats' average lead is 14 points......National polls continue to confirm a very wide lead for Democrats among independent voters.... The Pew data show huge swings toward the Democrats among many important voter groups including seniors, middle income voters, non-college educated voters, whites, rural residents, married moms, white Catholics--the list goes on and on. In effect, these shifts have turned yesterday's swing voters into Democratic groups and many of yesterday's Republican groups into swing voters.... The political scientists' forecasting model prediction of 32 seats doesn't see so far-fetched in light of these data.....the GOP turnout machine is overrated and is simply not capable of turning defeat into victory in the manner alleged by GOP operatives.....
And - getting completely ahead of ourselves for a minute - the sage political analyst Larry Sabato raises the prospect of a shut out, in which Republicans win nothing at all. And as someone who works in Virginia, i'm taking as significant the fact that Sabato is tipping Jim Webb over George Allen too.
Virginia - Toss-up - Jim Webb (D) will unseat Sen. George Allen (R). Of course we're not counting him out altogether, but Allen's slow self-destruction has been nothing short of breathtaking, and we at the Crystal Ball are still somewhat shocked to find ourselves at the epicenter of the fight for the Senate....