Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Looks odd from the outside

In countries used to strict party discipline it is oddly disconcerting watching US primaries candidates ripping each other apart so fiercely. For one thing the parties will need to unite behind the final selection, even after the winner will have their greatest weaknesses revealed for all. For another, there are 480 other races for each party to contest.

Now I realize this is the way things are done in the US, and can only conclude each part of the game is played separately and somehow the damage isn’t carried over. But if I was involved with a party national administration I expect I’d have a team set aside to pick up every bit of dirt being flung by inter party rivals for reuse later.

The other reason I find this openly venomous display strange, particularly for the Democrats, is that while the republicans might be on the nose the Democrats still have a big task ahead to win voter confidence.

According to figures by the Pew Research Center half of US voters lean toward or identify themselves as Democrats, the Republicans have fallen to 35 percent. But for the Democrats ‘lean towards’ is the operative term, this is not locked in support.

The party not in power normally has the advantage when voters are dissatisfied, but unlike Australia, voting in the US isn’t compulsory. Here, compelled to vote they will punish the government, in the US they are just as likely to simply stay at home.

What I find really odd is that the masters of slick advertising and marketing run the least disciplined campaigns I’ve ever encountered. Without any doubt these are the biggest spending campaigns the world has ever seen. Ergo, one would think, the very best money can buy. Not so, it appears.

Let’s put aside the seriously fractured national party gems and look at some of the candidates.

Hillary has a long and deep background in campaigning, plus the benefit of Bill’s experience, they didn’t call him Slick Willy for nothing. Yet her campaign appears to be one blunder after another.

Obama has less experience but still has the ability to put together a hot shot team. Perhaps in a sense, his blunders are a positive, but only for a while. We see very little of Edwards downunder, I guess he doesn’t rate in the time allocated to cover this great event, and I’m not really keying into the Republican battle.

What I am seeing is all that money dumped into an advertising bucket, but without the benefit of in-house polling to show what messages are best directed where. It is, very honestly, amateurish. We are talking $millions and a few hundred thousand of that toward research would make every cent spent on advertising earn its value.

It doesn’t take buckets of money to run an effective campaign, it takes organisation and information. By all means, if money is a measure of a candidate’s success, money gives the power brokers a hard on, collect it. But target the voters; find out what the independents want and how the candidate can accommodate that want. Don’t simply make the media richer by throwing cash about.

Money should not take over from research and imaginative campaigning. From the research I’m seeing voters, more particularly that growing band of independents, want real change and the candidate who demonstrates that in their campaign will go a long way to winning hearts and minds.


enigma4ever said...

First off...let me just say- it looks odd from the Inside too!!! Our "Democracy" is fragile at best and on so many levels and the Voting sytem and HOW we get to Vote- and the Candidate selection is bizarre, I have see shows from National Geographic Channel- where ancient tribal leaders were chosen with more clarity...(and less complications )...

Thank you for being brave enough and wise enough...and even patient enough to watch....merci

Cartledge said...

enigma, I was out early today, sweat pouring off me doing some hard cleaning for a community service place I work for sometimes. I enjoy getting into some physical stuff at times, and my mind was going wild with metaphors for the things I'm seeing in the campaign so far.
Brave? I'm here in the sub tropical south Pacific. My rugby playing, boozing, dug-addled neighbours are a bigger threat than some bitchy anon blogger.
It is only my friends I hesitate to offend, the rest really don't even figure.
As to patience, it is more like a religious devotion. But please keep me on track, I appreciate that from my red heads and the odd cat!

D.K. Raed said...

There's something to be said for compulsory voting if, as you point out, it would pull the dissatisfied off their couches & get them to vote out the sources of their dissatisfaction.

I think part of our problem this election is the god-awful long campaign season. We are seeing voter fatigue due to this year-long build up just to the primaries. And we still have another 10-months to endure. Pity us by November. We will be so tired when we enter the voting booth, we won't be sure which candidate our blurry eyes & quavering fingers jabbed.

Your Pew research is interesting. We are told the numbers of registered voters nationwide are about 50/50. Didn't used to be that way at all. Dems were always the more popular party (the party of the people) until this whole religious god fever got stoked up here, an issue the repubs own.

Another funny thing is when pollsters ask people how they feel about individual issues, they tend to answer in a way that would normally be identified as Democrat. But at the end of such questioning, when they are asked which party they support or which candidate, 1/2 will say Republican. When asked why, they fall back on "values" or "security". Such amorphous concepts to assign to a party & yet the repubs have managed to control those concepts in people's minds.

Now ummm, the slick willy nickname, well I hate to burst your bubble, but it was more about his ability to get out numerous personal jams, that is to say, romantic entanglements. I don't think Hill benefits from that particular skill of Bill.

ps, cricket or rugby, which is your preference? right now, my hub is all caught up in Australian Tennis. Last night, I was forced to watch some people laying on the sand in Melbourne watching tennis broadcast on a humongous outdoor screen. He'll be dragging me to the Tennis Open in Vegas in March, but we would've much preferred Australia!

abi said...

Oh, I've got to disagree with you here, Cartledge. The real-change candidate for the Dems is Kucinich, and, let's see, where is he in the polls again... ?
Money's the name of the game. The one who spends the most doesn't necessarily win. But in a national race, you can't win without spending a ton of it.

Cartledge said...

Important stuff first – I’m a cricket tragic. The tennis is sort of getting in the way at the moment, but I know how to use one of those remote things now. I did my youthful stint with both tennis and rugby, but the cricket is what really grabbed me in the end.
Funny thing is that bloody technology is spoiling both tennis and cricket; all that bloody close camera work and the various jimcracks. Sorry, but I think the cameras could be better used…
The research I’m working on. I appreciate the feedback, which helps dig deeper. I can find the obvious stuff, but I get a lot from the comments and search hints beyond that. Thank you.
Hey! I know what a bloody slick willy is, bad choice of words to point out how experienced he is with campaigning. I’m just working on my Edwards post, which I hope makes sense to you. Should have it up in an hour or so. The TV is switched to the tennis so I can give it my full concentration.

Cartledge said...

abi, no argument from me, and I respect your money argument. We only get MSM coverage here (in English at least) and I've lost the key search words developed when i lived over there :(
But i disagree with money being the total answer. It is the dominant paradigm and someone needs to break that concept.

D.K. Raed said...

"The TV is switched to the tennis so I can give it my full concentration" ... HAHAHAHAH! Guess you gotta be a player to appreciate thwacking that ball around. Right now, there is a love-hate relationship in my house over Roger Federer. Sadly, both the love & the hate are emanating from the same tennis fan (husband). Me, I could care less, though I do like some of the leggy scenery. Thanks for answering my frivolous question!

Cartledge said...

I thought I'd get interested after watching one of the Williams girls at practice in a tee shirt and bouncy bazookas. It didn't hold me for long, alas. I'm not a tennis fan and nothing seems to make it compelling for me.