About this blog
A blog dedicated to the examination of communications in election campaigns, with a focus on posters
Tagged as “527 groups”
Sunday, November 2, 2008
This year has seen yet another record for campaign expenditures in the U.S. The projected total amount for the presidential and congressional campaigns is $5.3 billion, according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics. This money has been spent mainly on political marketing—including TV, radio, and Internet spot ads, and direct mail—but also for the conventions, canvassing, polling, and telephone calls.
Almost one-half of the above amount—a record $2.4 billion—has been spent on the presidential race. But, as USA Today's Fredreka Schouten noted, this "is less than the $2.6 billion Coca-Cola spent on advertising in 2006." Of course, it is also 50% more than the $1.6 billion expended on the presidential race four years ago.
It also should be mentioned that the Democrats raised almost 60% of the total this year, whereas fundraising by the two major U.S. political parties was approximately the same in 2004. Over 90% of Barack Obama's $639 billion has come from individual contributors, according to the Center, whereas only a bit more than 50% of John McCain's $360 billion has been given by individuals (23% are federal funds; 22% are "Other").
The minor parties? Well, independent Ralph Nader obtained only $4 million (of which 22% were from federal funds); Libertarian Bob Barr had about $1.25 million (with no federal funds); Constitution Party candidate Chuck Baldwin raised $239,000 (with no federal funds); Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney had a mere $188,000 (with only about $5,000 from the federal government).
Interesting, independent "527 groups" devoted to federal races have raised less money this year: $424 million (a decrease of 12% from 2004), reports Ms. Schouten.
How much does all this spending help candidates? There is some research to indicate that it does help somewhat. For instance, money spent on campaign advertising in British elections has been found to be generally effective, particularly for out-of-power parties against incumbent ones. This may prove to be the case in this year's U.S. presidential election.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
According to The Spot (a blog about political ads by the Campaign Media Analysis Group, a division of TNS Media Intelligence), special interest groups are girding up to release TV spots in targeted states. These 527 and PAC groups may "prove to be a significant force, largely because they are more willing than candidates to include incendiary information and images in their ads," states the blog.
In the last week, these groups distributed ads that focused on abortion, rape, Obama's association with Tony Rezko, Jeremiah Wright and William Ayers, McCain's bouts with cancer, and more.
Planned Parenthood, the Committee for Truth in Politics, the California Nurses Association, and the Judicial Confirmation Network sponsored ads that ran over 1,000 times during the week—costing almost $375,000.
Here are two of the ads:
Monday, September 22, 2008
In early nineteenth-century America, negative advertising and distortion of candidate records were all practiced in politics—in partisan newspapers, broadsides, and posters. Today, this is mainly conducted on the Internet and with TV spot ads.
Vinny Minchillo (Chief Creative Officer, Scott Howell & Company) says that presidential advertising is like auto advertising. Here are the similarities, according to him (in Advertising Age, September 19, 2008):
- "Both decisions come with a commitment of two, four or six years"
- "Potential customers are engaged for a short period of time"
- "People actually do their homework before committing"
- "People want us to believe they decide based on facts, when it's really an emotional decision"
- "There's plenty of negative advertising"
The key for shoppers—for presidents and cars—writes Minchillo, is to "make a connection to the brand that is both logical and emotional." There are a number of important questions asked by these shoppers, but perhaps the most important ones are "How will this car make me look?" and "What will my friends say when I reveal my candidate choice?" Minchillo states that Obama—"a stunning orator and tremendous narrator"— is a "Ferrari"; McCain—"with tons of experience and decent qualifications"—is a "Toyota Camry."
Then there is the "comparative advertising" between "products." Although surveys have indicated that many voters dislike negative political ads, researchers have shown that they are often effective. Two of the most successful were the Willie Horton spots in 1988 and those by the Swift Boat Veterans in 2004.
The most malicious video spots are not even shown on television; rather they are posted online. Both TV and online spots have been financed by so-called "527 groups." These groups can raise unlimited funds independent of the authorized groups supporting candidates and parties, but must disclose donors. One 527 group, calling itself the "Brave New PAC" targeted John McCain with a spot attempting to tarnish his "hero" image as a Vietnam POW. Here it is:
An anti-Obama spot, posted by "Our Country PAC," called into question the Democrat's "patriotism." Here it is:
These are just two. You can find many more out there.