Posted Feb 25, 2010 by Matt Bales |
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| Filed in: General, Politics
Today marks a turning point for either the Republican Party or the Obama Administration and the Democrats. Both sides of the aisle will participate in a “bipartisan” health care summit. President Obama was billed the summit as an opportunity to “seek common ground” on legislation that will reign in health care’s soaring costs.
President Obama and his Administration released a framework proposal on which today’s summit will focus. Nevertheless, the controversy has mounted around the rumors that the Democrats might resort to a parliamentary tactic called “reconciliation.”
These rumors have spurred critics, for example, Georgia Rep. Tom Price says, “I’m not certain what the White House is up to, but it appears they are trying to meld a bill together without, again, any input from Republicans. It doesn’t sound like bipartisanship…I’m afraid it’s just another photo op.”
This summit will be pivotal as both parties seek to gain an advantage heading into the 2010-midterm elections. Centrist Democrats, especially ones in the House, will face a tough decision at the end of the day. Public sentiment is not in favor of health care reform and you can guarantee that the Republicans will cite votes on the health care legislation in their ads and mail pieces against Democrats in “toss-up” districts.
For Democrats, this legislative victory is imperative to stop the bleeding of losses in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts. Democrats recognize that many of the proposals that President Obama campaigned on in 2008 are uncertain if the midterms do not shape up in their favor.
I, for one, will be watching the summit and following the conversation on Twitter to see how it shapes up. The real question is whether this summit is truly an attempt at bipartisanship by either party or just a photo op with a sound bite of “gotcha” at the end of the day.
Let us know what you think after the summit concludes. In your opinion, is the summit just political show or a chance for real reform?
Having worked on the campaign of Senator Elizabeth Dole, a common phrase to describe the former Senator was that she had “star power.” Elizabeth Dole was a household name whether you agreed with her politics or not. A portion of her star power could be attributed to her husband, legendary Senator Bob Dole, but most was achieved through her own many impressive and well-known accomplishments.
In my opinion, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has star power. However, I must resort from using star power to describe Jeb Bush, because that title is reserved for Elizabeth Dole, but Jeb does a ton (well 2,035 units) of "Follower Power." Thus, I will use the phrase, “Follower Power” to describe Jeb Bush. Only yesterday, Jeb Bush made public his Twitter handle. In under 24 hours, JebBush has 2,035 and I am sure by the time that I finish writing this post that his number of followers will have increased.
I think this popularity is indicative of many things with respects to Jeb Bush. Regardless of the successes or failures of his brother or his father, Jeb Bush’s record is laudable and people seem to judge Jeb as his own person within the dichotomy of his family name. While serving as Governor of Florida, he was well-known for responding to hundreds of emails per day, often with his blackberry. The average citizen in Florida felt personally connected to him. These days a politician's success or ability is almost measured more by their online presence (followers) than their bank account (dollars).
This makes me ponder the question, what is next for Jeb Bush? He obviously has some “Follower Power,” but what will he do with this power and popularity?
I, personally, do not think that we have seen the end of Jeb Bush’s public service, at least, I hope not.
Today's avenues of communicating with supporters, contributors and voters can be complicated. The mediums available include direct mail, radio, television, phone calls, email, web sites, blogs and now social media avenues that include Facebook and Twitter - to name the popular.
However, how do you know that the folks you want to communicate to are getting your message? Unless you are seeing them in person and witnessing them open that email, viewing the website or reading the piece of mail, you just will not know. When it comes to asking for someone’s vote or for a contribution, picking up the phone and initiating a conversation is the most effective method to getting your point across.
It may sound time consuming to dial through a call list asking folks for their support, vote or contribution, but it is this personal interaction and respect that can make a world of difference. It is humbling and respectful for a candidate to make "the ask" and it is those types of candidates that tend to be successful in the end. Let us remember, politics relies on the social interaction of humans and institutions.
Therefore, while there are unique ways in delivery information, candidates must be vigilant in making sure that they are being heard. That is why a candidate, on a daily basis, should schedule themselves at least two hours of calling time. Make those calls, be it for support, a vote, or to ask for a contribution. Taking the time to make a phone call not only shows that you are committed, but it also puts the person on the other end of the call on the spot because now you are in a position to ask for their commitment. There is no opportunity to breeze by that email, throw away the mail or getting side tracked viewing another webpage.
When it comes to planning that next campaign fundraiser, factor in time to make calls so that the candidate can personally make the ask. In the long run, the person on the other end should respect and appreciate the fact that you took the time to call them rather than initiating the contact through an email, mail, or other means of communication.
Posted Feb 22, 2010 by Chris Sinclair |
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| Filed in: Social Media
3.5 billion. That’s the number of pieces of content shared by Facebook users every week, around the world. Even more staggering is the 2.5 billion photos uploaded and the 3.5 million events created monthly on Facebook*
It’s hard to imagine that this social media juggernaut didn’t even exist six years ago. And, from what I can tell, it’s only going to get bigger. On this month’s cover of Fast Company, one of my favorite magazines is Facebook’s Founder, Mark Zuckerberg, and he says the company is just getting started. (Really?!)
No doubt, Facebook has changed the way we live. It’s allowed us to keep in touch with friends from afar, catch up with old acquaintances, reignite old friendships, and –for some---increase market share and brand awareness.
It’s likewise changed the way campaigns operate, and is a dominate force for political and issue advocacy campaigns---especially with the ease to access the platform using your mobile phone.
What I really like about Facebook is it’s incredible ability to spread a candidate’s or organization’s message so easily---not to mention its innate ability to organize an event or meeting. Throw in the capacity to add custom applications, to collect critical data or harvest emails, and advertise to gain more fans, and you have an instant recipe for social media success---all for pennies on the dollar.
In short, Facebook is an excellent tool for campaigns to take online action and easily translate it to offline “boots on the ground” action. Witness what Bob McDonnell in Virginia---and most recently Scott Brown in Massachusetts---did with Facebook.
With 2010 shaping up to be a monumental election year, and campaigns and candidates looking for economical ---value add---ways to organize and spread their message, you can bet the Facebook will play a key---and strategic---part of every campaign, from Congress to county commissioner.
So what do you think? Is Facebook the dominant political social networking tool? Is there a better tool out their or campaigns?
Posted Feb 19, 2010 by Alastair Macaulay |
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| Filed in: General, Politics
Poll after poll, talk shows and political pundits are focusing in on the growing unhappiness of the American public with their leaders. A CNN/Opinion Research poll released yesterday indicates 38% of people would consider voting for a third party candidate for president under any circumstances. 64% were in favor of having a third political party run candidates for President, Congress and state offices. Can a third party candidate win the presidency? Will there be a Tea Party presidential candidate? While there may be a hunger amongst the public for alternatives to the two major parties the chances are slim.
Any third party candidate needs to overcome the built in advantages both parties have in getting on the ballot. Third party candidates need to incur the expense of gathering thousands and in some states tens of thousands of signatures many months in advance to get on the ballot. The two main party candidates don’t have to collect any signatures to be on the ballot in November.
What’s more likely to occur in 2012 is third party candidates getting on the ballot in select states and perhaps deciding the election. Remember what happened in Florida in 2000, an election George Bush won by less than a 1,000 votes, Green Party candidate Ralph Nader received 97,488 votes in Florida, far more than the combined 40,000 votes of the other third party candidates in Florida. In 1992, Ross Perot received 19% of the vote nationwide, in some states that number was 25-30%.
While there is clearly dissatisfaction today with Washington and incumbents from both political parties, translating that anger into viable third party campaign in 2012 is very remote. Given our current political system, the only chance a third party candidate could win the presidential election in 2012 or in the near future is if they can self finance and even then, they would need to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to overcome the built in advantages enjoyed by the two main parties.
It is clear that both parties are listening to the polls and focusing on jobs and the economy prior to the looming 2010 midterm election. Especially, since this week marks the one-year anniversary of the “Stimulus Package” and one of the bitterest political battles in recent memory.
The Los Angeles Times sums the anniversary by saying, “one year after launching the largest federal economic stimulus program in American history, a fiercely partisan political battle continued to rage over its effectiveness even as fresh data showed the economy continuing to make a gradual, if halting recovery.”
Both parties are hoping their claims will garner support from the American people before November and have resorted to making their cases in a satirical way.
Recent online ads from both political parties deserve some attention for their sheer satirical and pointed attacks of the other party. Often times, political campaigns and parties forget the "punch line" in their attempts at satire in advertising, but I think both of these ads achieve their goal.
Posted Feb 17, 2010 by Mandy Fletcher Fraher |
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| Filed in: General, Politics
As Matt alluded to in yesterday’s post, Sen. Evan Bayh’s retirement may be emblematic of a greater “bi-partisan” disgust towards our politicians in Washington DC.
There is a pandemic going around Washington – it is called “IAMRETIRING.” House and Senate members on both sides of the aisle are catching it, announcing they will not be running for re-election this fall.
The reasons, both public and speculative, are varied. Some know, with voter’s general disillusionment towards Congress, they have a tough re-election ahead. Others are tired of the fight. Perhaps it is not just the voters who are tired of Congress’ partisan bickering and inability to get things done, but members themselves are worn out and throwing in the towel.
No one can be certain whether these retirements will result in a political shift to the right or left. Both Democrats and Republicans share responsibility for the recession, astronomical deficit, job loss and simple inability to make progress on any issue. An effort to deny such responsibility only fuels the fire of voter anger and turns them away. What is certain is all these retirements present an opportunity for both voters and candidates alike.
This fall voters have an opportunity to send new blood and energy to Washington. They are tired of the usual messages of hope and change and will be looking for candidates who can deliver results. Voters across this country are hurting and will take a closer look at their choices than ever before. Tragically, if unmotivated by those choices, they may choose to stay home.
Candidates should take note as well. Do not count on party line votes. This election will be less about rigid ideology and more about candidates who can speak plainly to the voters about issues that are relevant. They must show a record of leadership in business or elected office and demonstrate the ability to work in a bi-partisan way. Candidates must get rid of the rhetoric and talk about practical solutions.
As demonstrated in the Massachusetts US Senate race, conventional wisdom should be thrown out the window in 2010. Historical analysis and the media told us all that was Kennedy’s seat, the Democrats seat. Voters there took control and made it clear it was their seat, the People’s seat.
In this day of healthcare reform, education reform, economic reform and so on – perhaps Congress needs some reform of its own. It may come in the 2011 class of new independent minded Representatives and Senators. It is the People’s Congress and they are taking back control.
Posted Feb 16, 2010 by Matt Bales |
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| Filed in: Politics
The retirement announcement yesterday of Senator Evan Bayh from Indiana rocked the political world on both sides of the aisle. The Democrats have lost yet another Senator to retirement prior to what is shaping up to be a tough mid-term cycle for the party in power and Republicans see an opportunity to gain back a seat the lost.
Tom Jensen from the Democratic polling firm PPP states, “I can’t believe I’m saying this but I really think Republicans have a chance to win back the Senate this fall now.”
Republicans are foaming at the mouth to pick up this seat in the traditional red state of Indiana as summed up by Matt Latimer’s quote in Politico’s Arena – “The regular lament when things don’t go well for a politician in Washington is that the city has become ‘too ideological’ or ‘too partisan.’ That Evan Bayh says this of a Congress almost totally controlled by the Democrats is interesting, but I don’t think that’s usually the problem. “
Latimer’s quote underscores another sentiment – Washington and its cohorts are too power hungry. When a moderate Democrat like Byah steps down because he is fed up with Congress, but loves serving the people, the culture in Washington is simply broken.
Bayh said in his retirement speech, “For some time, I've had a growing conviction that Congress is not operating as it should. There is much too much partisanship and not enough progress; too much narrow ideology and not enough practical problem-solving. Even at a time of enormous national challenge, the people's business is not getting done.”
While Bayh’s decision has left Democrats scrambling and Republicans even more power hungry, gaining one of their seats back, the real winner is the American people by his decision. For the first time, I think, Congress is starting to get the picture that Americans are dissatisfied with Washington and its two political parties and the lack of solutions to fix the nation’s problems.
What do you think that Bayh’s decision says about Congress and the public’s sentiment towards Washington?
Much ado has been made concerning the successful integration of social media and online outreach (“new” media) into political and issue advocacy campaigns. This is neither a fad nor a generational thing. Social media and online outreach, in my opinion, will replace aspects of the traditional campaigns as the technologies continue to evolve and the audiences continue to grow.
According to Pew Internet and American Life Project, 74% of all American adults (18 and older) use the internet and this number has been growing rapidly ever since 2000. There are countless explanations as to why the shift from traditional media to “new” media is occurring. Whether it is, people’s lives are busier and turn to the online world for convenience sake or the ability to multitask on the internet, the transition is happening and it is happening quickly. Thus, it is better to embrace this shift than be left in the dust.
What does this mean if you are a candidate that is considering running for public office or the executive director of a trade association trying to defeat a piece of unfavorable legislation? It means you need to invest time and resources into “new” media. I am not advocating investing all of your resources into this platform, but it must become a serious consideration in the allocation of funds. The record of accomplishment of new media is exceptional, if utilized correctly. In the past two years think about Bob McDonnell’s campaign or the golden standard of Obama’s campaign.
Again, I am not advocating the abandonment of traditional marketing avenues, but strongly favor integrating “new media” to supplement the efforts. “New media” is cheaper to use and allows your message to be spread in real-time. That being said, it also means you must be in defense mode at all times and must establish a sound strategy, otherwise your efforts could be for not. For my parting thoughts, if integrated correctly, “new media” campaigns can provide a high return on your investment for your efforts, but it will take hard work and lots of patience and a well executed strategy.
Posted Feb 14, 2010 by Matt Bales |
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| Filed in: General
We, at Cornerstone Solutions, have launched a new blog featuring our takes on politics and strategic communications. The different members of our team will be regularly contributing to the blog to comment on their areas of expertise.
We hope you appreciate our insight and will check back frequently.