Analysis: Obama's ad team used cable TV to outplay Romney

NC Susan


Analysis: Obama's ad team used cable TV to outplay Romney

By Marcus Stern and Tim McLaughlin | Reuters – Sat, Jan 5, 2013

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(Reuters) - As political experts assess Republican Mitt Romney's failed U.S. presidential bid, an analysis of how his campaign and President Barack Obama's winning team used cable TV to target ads at specific groups of voters may offer some valuable tips for the future.

During the final weeks before the November 6 election, with polls showing a tight race, Obama's campaign exploited cable TV's diverse lineup to target women on channels such as Food Network and Lifetime and men on networks such as ESPN.
The Obama team used the fragmentation of cable TV's audience to its fullest advantage to target tailored messages to voters in battleground states.

Meanwhile, Romney's campaign relied on a more traditional mass saturation of broadcast TV. The Romney camp was entirely dark on cable TV for two of the campaign's last seven days.

"We don't know why. This was a week before the election and you're in the fight for your life," said Timothy Kay, political director for NCC Media, a cable TV industry consortium.
The race had narrowed to key counties in several battleground states, the kind of isolation ideally suited for cable's geographical targeting and niche-marketing capabilities.

Republican Party operatives dismayed by Romney's defeat continue to debate what went wrong in a campaign awash in cash and run by a candidate with a business background. The former Massachusetts governor's campaign, like Democrat Obama's, spent a record-setting amount of cash; in Romney's case, it was $580 million in 20 months.
Obama's campaign outspent Romney's campaign on advertising by as much as $200 million, according to a Reuters analysis. But when spending by pro-Romney and pro-Obama outside groups is considered, Romney had the edge in overall TV advertising spending.

Republican consultants and advertising experts said Romney had enough money to compete with Obama's final advertising effort. Yet Obama cruised to a commanding Electoral College victory after a final concentration on a small group of battleground states.

"In market after market, the Obama campaign ended up putting more ads on target than the Romney campaign did," said Ken Goldstein, president of Kantar Media's Campaign Media Analysis Group, a nonpartisan consulting firm that tracked political ads and worked with both campaigns.

Stephanie Kincaid, who managed Romney's advertising campaign, declined to answer questions and referred inquiries to top Romney campaign officials Stuart Stevens and Russell Schriefer, her bosses at The Stevens and Schriefer Group, a political consulting firm. They did not respond to phone calls.


Cable television political advertising jumped from $136 million in 2006 to $650 million in 2012, although broadcast TV still garnered 80 percent of the campaign advertising spending last year.
Even with major broadcast networks and their affiliates, the Obama campaign appeared to out-perform the Romney camp.
A campaign spending review shows the Obama camp frequently spent far less than Romney for ads aired by the same stations during the same shows.

For example, a review of TV station filings with the Federal Communications Commission showed Romney, on the Sunday before Election Day, paid $1,100 for an ad aired during CBS's "Face the Nation" program on WRAL in Raleigh, North Carolina. Obama paid $200 for a comparable ad on the same station during the same program.
Part of the reason for the Obama campaign's pricing advantage is that the president faced no Democratic primary challenge and was able to buy autumn TV time months in advance when the slots - like airline tickets - were discounted. Romney faced a tough battle for the Republican nomination.

The Romney campaign also simply did not have enough bodies to handle the labor-intensive business of planning, negotiating and placing ads on hundreds of TV stations simultaneously, according to several Republican consultants and media analysts who asked not to be identified.

Obama's campaign had 30 full-time media buyers. The Romney campaign relied heavily on a single person, Kincaid, with help from one or two others from time to time, according to sources close to the campaign. Senior officials with the campaign declined to discuss its advertising staffing.

"It's the equivalent of having a budget the size of a Coca- Cola commercial campaign and having two people managing it, where a Madison Avenue agency might have 50 people," said NCC's Kay. Kincaid and her small staff were overwhelmed, according to numerous political vendors who dealt with them.

Jim Margolis, an Obama campaign senior adviser whose firm GMMB handled its advertising, said the campaign also took advantage of information provided by companies like Rentrak Corp, a Portland, Oregon-based company that monitors the digital boxes attached to TVs in households using satellite dishes.


In the past, political advertisers relied on the major networks rather than cable TV in a quest to reach the most television viewers.

But cable TV's increasing popularity has brought dramatic fragmentation to television viewership. In many markets, cable offers a hundred or more channels, giving advertisers a chance to target specific demographics.
For instance, the Obama campaign identified zip codes surrounding Ohio tire-manufacturing plants and purchased cable ads touting Obama's efforts to block tire imports from China.

Obama ran 600,000 cable ads to the Romney's 300,000 around the nation during the campaign, said NCC's Kay. Obama's cable TV push started in April. Romney's began in September.

Obama's team also mixed and matched its messages to sharpen the appeal in key counties.
"My impression was there was much more examination and analytics done with the Obama campaign," Kay said. "The Romney campaign had the same rigid schedule in every state."

(Reporting by Marcus Stern in Washington and Tim McLaughlin in Boston; Editing by Claudia Parsons, Marilyn W. Thompson and Will Dunham)

NC Susan

It’s Not the Message, It’s Not the Messenger, It’s the Voter
January 21, 2013
By Bruce Thornton

Nearly 3 months after the presidential election the Republicans are still trying to fix what they think went wrong. A popular culprit is the Republicans’ alleged failure to communicate forcefully or persuasively a message that would move voters presumably receptive to conservative policies and principles. Just in the last week Jonah Goldberg, Daniel Henninger, Ari Fleischer, Ross Douthat, and Karl Rove have worked variations on this theme. Yet we should remember that any act of communication comprises not just a sender and a message, but also a receiver. We need to focus on the nature of America’s political “receivers,” the 65 million who voted for Obama in the November election, and the 93 million registered voters who didn’t vote. If those voters are not receptive to the Republican message, it doesn’t matter much how brilliant the messenger or the packaging of the message.

And that “message” has been out there for years now and constantly repeated. Only the stupid or willfully inattentive haven’t heard that we face a financial abyss waiting at the end of our entitlement road, that entitlements need to be reformed, that we have an exploding debt and deficit crisis, that a “tax the rich” policy only produces chump-change for solving that problem, that Obama’s economic policies have bloated the federal government at the expense of jobs and growth, and that Obama himself is the most left-wing, duplicitous, partisan, and incompetent president in modern history. And conservatives have identified repeatedly the bad ideology and flawed assumptions that have generated the policies that created those problems. The fact is, many voters know full well this dismal catalogue of failure, and they either don’t care, or they believe the fatuous rationalizations, lies, excuses, and economic magical thinking offered by the Democrats. How else explain Obama’s 55% approval rating in the latest Time/CNN poll? Either way, repeating once again the facts demonstrating that failure and the flawed ideology that has created it, or more effectively repackaging the facts and arguments and having it delivered by an oratorical genius, is not going to cut much ice.

If you disagree, remember what happened to Paul Ryan last year. He identified the problem of entitlement-driven deficits and crafted a response that made a modest start at reform. But after several months of demonization by the Democrats that included an ad with a Ryan look-alike pushing an old lady in a wheelchair over a cliff, the only narrative with traction by election day was the lie that Republicans “want to end Medicare as we know it” and “shred the safety net” and keep the “rich” from “paying their fair share.” You could have resurrected Ronald Reagan and had him deliver the counter-message and the outcome would’ve been the same.

Or maybe you’re cheered by those exit polls that reported majorities of Americans “want government to do less,” and so voters are ready to support entitlement reform. But be more specific about which entitlements should be reduced and see what response you get. Someone on Medicare who will get $3 for every $1 put into the program––thus receiving taxpayer money––may be in favor of cutting back on food stamps or extended unemployment benefits, but don’t even think about reducing his subsidy. Remember those AARP ads with the snarling oldsters warning, “Keep your hands off my Medicare” because they “earned” those benefits? So too with the home mortgage deduction, or agriculture subsidies, or any number of mechanisms for transferring public money to citizens and businesses. The fact is, the entitlement mentality has insidiously spread even among people who think that the “government does too much.” As David Brooks summed up recently, “Many voters have decided they like spending a lot on themselves and pushing costs onto their children and grandchildren. They have decided they like borrowing up to $1 trillion a year for tax credits, disability payments, defense contracts and the rest. They have found that the original Keynesian rationale for these deficits provides a perfect cover for permanent deficit-living. They have made it clear that they will destroy any politician who tries to stop them from cost-shifting in this way.”

Dig deeper into the ideas behind the policies and you’ll find out why the Democrats’ narrative is so much more appealing to such voters than is that of the Republicans. The conservative message is predicated on beliefs about ordered liberty, self-reliance, equality of opportunity, individualism, limited government, entrepreneurship, and all those other virtues and principles that indeed have made the United States the wealthiest, freest, most open great power in all of history. But those virtues necessarily entail a tragic view of human life. Individual freedom requires as well personal responsibility and accountability for bad choices. Equality of opportunity is no guarantee of success. Talent, character, initiative, brains, and luck are not evenly distributed among people. Limiting government means individuals, families, churches, and communities must see to their own needs and wants and find some way to pay for them. Many businesses are going to fail, but that is part of capitalism’s “creative destruction” that has made free-market economies so successful. We can’t have every good we want without paying a price or making a trade-off or accepting some level of risk. The good of driving cars, for example, costs us about 35,000 fatalities a year in road accidents. In short, a flawed human nature, the law of unforeseen consequences, and the limits of human knowledge all mean that we have to accept an imperfect world in which life isn’t fair: there are no winners without losers, there’s no free lunch, and we can’t eat our cake and have it.

The progressive Democrats, in contrast to the timeless wisdom even an illiterate peasant once understood, endorse a therapeutic view of human life. People aren’t responsible for their choices, for an unjust political and economic environment conditions those choices. Success doesn’t result from individual hard work and brains as well as luck, but solely from the accidents of birth or access to social advantages unjustly denied to others. Equality means not equality of opportunity, but equality of result, the primary goal being the reduction of esteem-wounding income differences through the redistribution of wealth by government. Free citizens are not responsible for solving problems or managing their lives, but rather techno-elites possessing superior knowledge must be given the state’s coercive power to reshape and control social and economic institutions in order to reduce the destructive consequences of failures of character or of unjust social, political, and economic institutions. Risk and trade-offs are not a permanent cost of human aspirations and actions, but can be removed from human life. The result will be a much better world in which failure is rare, all goods can be had simultaneously at minimal costs, income equality is achieved, risk is eliminated, and everybody gets to be a winner. Contrary to those cranky “mean” conservatives, there is such a thing as a free lunch, and we can eat our cake and still have it.

Given that humans, as Alexander Hamilton said, “are ambitious, vindictive, and rapacious,” we shouldn’t be surprised that the progressive promise to indulge the self-interests and selfish appetites of the citizenry is more attractive than conservative sermons about self-control and self-sacrifice. So what if history shows that every attempt to create the progressive utopia has ended in disaster and failure, so what if the math says the entitlement state ends in bankruptcy, so what if our national character is being insidiously corrupted by getting something we haven’t earned but think is a human right, so what if, as Tocqueville warned 170 years ago, empowering the state to achieve these utopian boons comes at the cost of our freedom and autonomy. We want our free stuff now, and somebody else can pay the cost, whether the “rich” or our grandchildren.

The great 19th century French economist Frédéric Bastiat once wrote:

“When misguided public opinion honors what is despicable and despises what is honorable, punishes virtue and rewards vice, encourages what is harmful and discourages what is useful, applauds falsehood and smothers truth under indifference or insult, a nation turns its back on progress and can be restored only by the terrible lessons of catastrophe.”

Better messages and better messengers are not going to overcome human nature. The melancholy truth is that our debt, deficit, and entitlement problems will not be seriously addressed until a critical mass of citizens feels the pain of these self-interested, shortsighted, catastrophic policies.

NC Susan


Republican Security Council

WHY DID ROMNEY LOSE? Romney won white voters 59% to 39% and carried white women 56% to 42%. He won with all voters over 40. Romney won Independents by five points. He was the first national candidate in history to decisively win Independents and lose the election.
Romney lost because of the predominance of Democratic voters, who outnumbered Republicans 38 to 32 percent. Romney won the groups he targeted, but they no longer decide elections.
As a percentage, the GOP base did not decline. Republicans thought they were going to win because they did not expect Obama to maintain his 2008 turnout level.
Romney and McCain both received 59 million votes while the Obama vote was down 7 million overall, but it was near 2008 levels in the key swing states.
Romney, in his postmortem conference call, said the President's campaign targeted “the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people.” By contrast, Romney said his campaign had focused on “talking about big issues for the whole country.” Romney manager Stuart Stevens says while Obama played small ball, Romney “wanted to talk about big national issues.”
Democrats did a far better job of turning out their vote, and they won lopsided victories among blacks, Latinos, Asians, and young single women. Bush received 44% of the Latino vote in 2004 but Romney received just 27%.