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Recent Innovations in Political Campaigns?
July 25, 2012 1:13 PM   Subscribe

What are some recent innovations in political campaigns?

With the Presidential election coming up this fall, I'm curious about what people see as recent innovations in political campaigning (say, in the last 3-5 years) as well as things that might be new or even more important in the upcoming campaign.

I'm thinking of things like:
- the increasing importance of social media in a variety of formats (is Mitt Romney on Pinterest? If not, he probably should be.)
- comprehensive voter databases
- micro-targeting of messages & fundraising appeals to neighbourhoods, streets and even individuals
- moneybombs
- crowdsourcing of policy development
- following opposition candidates with cameras 24/7 in the hopes of catching a faux pas to post on YouTube
posted by Jaybo to Law & Government (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Buying fake Twitter followers?
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:23 PM on July 25, 2012


I can only speak of state and local elections. I have started seeing big databases run by state and national parties being given for either a fee or on thr house to small, local candidates. Fundraising databases are moving away from pen and paper to online CRMs. The prices for which are dropping. Once they were almost exclusively available to big campaigns, but now even your local sherif can afford one.

Has social networking changed campaigns? Yes. It has become the biggest distraction for candidates. Who has more Facebook friends is, in their innocent minds, as important as polling data. Who cares if half those friends are unregistered or live out of the district! It can be important for larger offices, but if your state senator or county commissioner mentions it punch them.

And of course there is the cluster fuck that is Citizens United.
posted by munchingzombie at 1:35 PM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


In 2008 I was surprised by Obama's attention to graphic design, message (in the marketing sense), and use of established technology like email.

For example, I remember it feeling really fresh and new that I'd get mailing list emails from "Barack" and "Michelle" rather than BARACK OBAMA CAMPAIGN 2008, and the emails were written in a conversational style rather than like direct mailer copy.

Similarly, I thought that campaign did a great job of getting around whisper campaigns and urban legend by directly referring people to sources like Snopes and FAIR. It made them come off as young and savvy, in contrast to McCain's stodgy image and Sarah Palin's cluelessness.
posted by Sara C. at 1:37 PM on July 25, 2012


The Obama campaign is using A/B testing to improve their marketing. Wired article. Metafilter thread.
posted by Perplexity at 1:52 PM on July 25, 2012


The Citizens United decision makes the 2012 races (at every level) a completely different animal. That alone makes for huge changes and the abilities of campaigns to utilize things that were once prohibitively expensive.

Having been involved in many campaigns since the '70s, I can tell you that much has changed for the better when it comes to the internal dynamics of "running a campaign." However, I have to say that, in my opinion, the crass manipulation, by all parties - this knows no bounds - has made campaigns nothing more than exercises in mass deceit; only now (thanks again to Citizens United) there's just more of it and it's all become much more sophisticated.
posted by Gerard Sorme at 2:30 PM on July 25, 2012


Slate has a whole blog about innovations campaign technology and data analysis. It's called The Victory Lab. I do this stuff for a living and I find it really fascinating.
posted by fancypants at 2:55 PM on July 25, 2012


"I can only speak of state and local elections. I have started seeing big databases run by state and national parties being given for either a fee or on thr house to small, local candidates. Fundraising databases are moving away from pen and paper to online CRMs. The prices for which are dropping. Once they were almost exclusively available to big campaigns, but now even your local sherif can afford one. "

Data point, I got mine for free, from one of the county parties, even though I ran in a non-partisan election. This was in 2009. There were around 8,000 voters in my race. They even printed the walk lists/maps for me for free, which was nice of them.

This election season I'm getting tons of mailers with QR codes to "visit our website" or "join our mailing list." Someone with clout in my local elections clearly decided it was the wave of the future.

I guess it's "microtargeting" when national or statewide campaigns target particular neighborhoods, but I'm not sure it's THAT new, since smart national campaigns have levered their county-level party organization since forever. Any county-level candidate can tell you, "In this neighborhood we talk about THIS and in that neighborhood we talk about THAT," and smart national or state campaigns have gotten that intel through the county party for a long time and used the county party to help with its boots on the ground effort. It's certainly more organized and comprehensive than in the past, but I don't think it's new.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:04 PM on July 25, 2012


One new trend seems to be mobile fundraising.
posted by gemmy at 9:44 PM on July 25, 2012


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