What's your favorite ice cream? Really? That's Obama's too! Vote for him!
OK, that may be a stretch, but only a little bit. Political campaigns are getting ever savvier about targeting their messages down to an individual level. So it won't be long before you start seeing ads along that ice cream line.
Chris Lehane, a Democratic strategist who worked in the Clinton administration, said this morning that political campaigns are constantly looking for ways to get past the "Tivo problem." Thanks to technology, the days of people sitting through several minutes of TV commercials are gone.
When a TV ad comes on these days, "people dive on the remote like it's a live hand grenade," Lehane said at a Politico breakfast hosted by Politico's Mike Allen and co-sponsored by the Observer.
So campaigns are increasingly buying 15-second spots, and even 10-second spots, rather than 30-second ads. That gives them a chance of reaching viewers' short attention span. More importantly, those shorter spots are the last ones before a show returns from a commercial break, so they're more likely to be seen.
Other techniques Lehane mentioned:
- Buy more ads on live programming, such as sports, which people are more likely to watch live.
- Target ads to individuals based on their preferences, culled from things like frequent shopper programs. "The amount of data you can get and use to target people is pretty significant," Lehane said.
- With early voting so prevalent, campaigns can see who has already voted, ask them poll questions and use their answers to help shape how they target voters in the final weeks of the campaign.
Another speaker at today's Politico breakfast also talked about targeting voters. Guy Cecil, the head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, talked about the 2010 U.S. Senate race in Colorado. In a tight race between Democrat Michael Bennet and Republican Ken Buck, Democrats didn't go after just any vote. They went after Hispanics, and they especially targeted independent women living in the suburbs of Denver and the suburbs of Colorado Springs.
That meant TV ads heavy on Bennet's pro-choice stance. Ads about the deficit, a hot topic in many 2010 races, were scarce. Bennet won by just over 1 percentage point.
Cecil, who knows the gritty details of politics in every state in the nation, was asked about Obama's chances in North Carolina this year. He said it will be extremely close and added: "North Carolina and Virginia are permanent battlegrounds because of the population changes in those states."
-- Taylor Batten