“If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.” – attributed to Harry S. Truman

“Politics is a contact sport.” – GOP campaign consultant, Marry Matalinclintonbuddy

Almost DailyBrett cannot accurately forecast, who will become the 45th president of the United States. Can you?

Wasn’t the general election contest supposed to quickly boil down to Hillary and Jeb, representing two of America’s political royal families?

In some respects, it is easier to foretell who will not be president (i.e., Martin O’Malley, John Kasich, Ben Carson, Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum … ).

What is more certain in this volatile Silly Season is the undeniable fact the Serious Season will be upon us in about three weeks. The presents will soon be unwrapped, turkey and stuffing will be consumed, and bowl games will be played. It will then be time for serious presidential politics.

The days of subjective media/pundit scoring (e.g., colluding media tweeting each other to determine the conventional wisdom of who is winning and who is losing) will be replaced by actual electoral results from caucuses and primaries. Figure skating and boxing are both plagued by judges. Football, hockey and other sports have actual scoreboards. It will soon be time for voter verdicts, particularly how candidates fare compared with “expectations.”

Quantitative research samples are taken far more seriously in the Serious Season, particularly trends as they edge closer to-and-after actual caucuses and primaries. Debates mean more, much more … and a particularly ill-time gaffe (there is never a good time for foot-in-mouth disease) could be electorally fatal. GOTV(Get Out The Vote) means more than ever as – Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina – are organization-intensive retail states than mass media in nature.

What does this all mean? The beginning of the Serious Season translates into meeting workers at factory gates, kibitzing at bowling allies, visiting lunch counters, attending PTA meetings, conducting town halls, when its frigid, icy and snowy outside (e.g., Iowa and New Hampshire).townhall

The caucus-goers (Iowa and Nevada) and primary voters (New Hampshire and South Carolina) are notoriously fickle, unpredictable and independent. How will they respond to Donald Trump and his billions and Hillary Clinton and her “inevitability”?

Here’s a hint: They are more inclined to root for David rather than Goliath.

Mother’s Milk Runs Dry?

“Money is the Mother’s Milk of Politics” – former California Speaker Jesse Unruh

The author of Almost DailyBrett remembers serving as a California gubernatorial campaign press director way back in the legacy media Stone Age of 1982. The goal was to win the news cycle, simply defined as one news cycle per day.

Today, the news cycle can be 24-in-one-day or literally one per hour in this legacy/digital native media age. What that means is that you have to win the majority of news cycles, develop a sense of momentum on an hourly basis and repeatedly demonstrate your “Big Mo.”

Way back in the previous century, you could gather momentum and ride it to the governor’s office as we did in the last three weeks of both the primary and general elections 43 years ago. Today, a campaign public relations team can be pushed from offense to defense or vice-versa in the same one-hour news cycle. Instead of getting a dog when the going get’s tough, political PR pros should think in terms of acquiring alligators.

The media has transformed itself from mostly left-of-center big three networks, major pubs (e.g., New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal) and two wire services into a smorgasbord of legacy media, cable networks (e.g., MSNBC on the left, Fox News on the right) and an expanding array of news aggregators (e.g., Real Clear Politics, POLITICO, Daily Kos, Red State, Huffington Post). Interspersing themselves into the mix are the independent committees that will flood the airwaves and cyberspace with ads, some with dubious claims of accuracy.

It was once said that Great Britain maintained an empire in which the sun never set. For today’s political media pros, they never sleep. And if your candidate does not meet expectations in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, the mother’s milk of politics will stop lactating.

How can a campaign finance integrated marketing communication programs (e.g., earned, paid and owned media) for eight caucuses and primaries at the end of February/March, if you can’t win in the beginning of February? Americans love winners and they want to jump onto band wagons. Using another metaphor, if a ship starts to sink (e.g., Jeb Bush’s campaign to date), high propensity voters and donors will quickly look for alternatives.

Who wants to throw good money after bad money? No one. If a candidate can’t win in Iowa and/or New Hampshire, can that same candidate win in Nevada and/or South Carolina, let alone the myriad of states that follow in quick succession?

After losing Iowa in 2004, former Governor Howard Dean delivered the infamous, “I have a scream” speech:howarddean

Not only are we going to New Hampshire, (Senator) Tom Harkin we’re going to South Carolina and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico, and we’re going to California and Texas and New York…. And we’re going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan, and then we’re going to Washington, D.C., to take back the White House! Yeah!”

Let’s give Governor Dean credit. He did go on to capture his home state of Vermont. Nonetheless, Jesse Unruh’s Law about the Mother’s Milk of Politics rang true. The lesson of the Serious Season is to skillfully manage expectations, win early and win often, otherwise someone else … maybe someone we don’t expect … will win the two respective party nominations.

Ready the ground (GOTV) and air wars (campaign ads). Light up the digital scoreboards. The Serious Season will soon be with us.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6i-gYRAwM0

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/07/12/the-silly-season/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republican_Party_presidential_primaries,_2016

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/2016-election/debates/schedule/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/in-face-of-criticism-trump-surges-to-his-biggest-lead-over-the-gop-field/2015/12/14/b9555e30-a29c-11e5-9c4e-be37f66848bb_story.html

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-rise-and-fall-of-howard-dean-18-02-2004/

 

 

 

 

 

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