Tip of the iceberg

Ed asserts in his morning post that Obama's “negative” campaign is not working, and he cites data suggesting that Obama’s supporters lack enthusiasm. I don't agree with him, and I base that conclusion not on hard data but on my admiration for Obama's strategists. They would not pursue a strategy that isn’t showing positive results.

My strong assumption is they have polling, from swing states, proving the efficacy of painting Romney as a predatory capitalist with something to hide. (By the way, Ed says Obama's new video accuses Romney of being a felon. I watched it and don't find that reference anywhere.)

We insiders often think of campaign strategy as being binary — positive or negative. But I would offer a new way of looking at campaigns: one that measures not only the vote as a snapshot in time but also the level of engagement and ownership that a supporter, or potential supporter, feels over time.

What the Obama campaign is doing in this campaign is trying to forge new ground. Through sophisticated targeting and the kind of marketing customization usually reserved for Fortune 50 companies, they are having an ongoing conversation with persuadable voters.

The advertising is simply the tip of the iceberg — albeit an expensive tip. Underneath, they are trying to have a customized conversation with a decisive group of voters and gradually get them to engage and feel some ownership of the campaign. If they are successful, they will rewrite the rules of political communication.

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