My insight into politics 2016 is that the old political tricks that used to win elections don’t work any more, and the candidates who realize that are the ones who are winning.
For example: Once upon the time, the candidate with the biggest war chest, the most money, had a huge (or is that “yuuuuuge”?) advantage. More money, more ads, more votes. But that’s no longer true.
In this strange primary season, there is little relationship between money spent on ads and poll numbers for candidates, at least on the Republican side. Former Florida Gov.Â Jeb BushÂ and Sen. Marco Rubio, the top two spenders, have spent about 10 times as much on ads as have the two polling leaders in Iowa, Donald Trump and Sen.Â Ted CruzÂ of Texas â€” who until recently bought far fewer ads than their rivals.
At this early stage of the race, the negative correlation between spending and support appears to be the result of the ever-evolving media landscape and a few other factors, some unique to 2016: a celebrity front-runner, a crowded field, questionable campaign strategies and voter burnout.
I remember reading a few years ago that television ads were getting less bang for the buck with every passing election cycle. I’d like to believe viewers are better at recognizing bullshit than they used to be, but the truth is we’ve all been so saturated with advertising that, unless it is unusually clever or funny, we tune it out.
(Example of funny/clever ad; not from U.S. television)
I don’t know if that makes me want to buy the dumplings, but at least I would remember the ad.Â The problem is, how many funny/clever campaign ads can you think of? And would the infamous “Daisy” ad of 50+ years ago work today, or be laughed at?
On the Dem side, IMO Hillary Clinton’s biggest blunder is that she’s trying to run a 1990s-style campaign against Bernie Sanders, who is way not a 1990s-style candidate. Charles Blow nicely sums this up:
… instead of Clinton finding a way to express that her plans are more tangible than Sandersâ€™s, and her chances in the general election are stronger than his, she and her campaign have made some incredulous inferences about Sandersâ€™s honor.
Sanders may be a dreamer, but heâ€™s not dishonorable. Trying to sully him in this way only sullies her.
There are a tremendous number of echoes starting to be heard between the way Clinton ran against Obama, and the way she is running against Sanders. …
… If Clinton canâ€™t find a positive, energetic message to project, and soon, she is going to be swept away by Sanders.
Clinton’s off-the-wall swipes at Sanders do connect … with Clinton supporters. I see the same talking points repeated ad nauseam in social media. But people who are not already in the tank for Hillary are not buying them.
Clinton could just as easily make a positive argument for herself, saying that while she supports Sanders’s ideals, her more incremental approach has a better chance of actually working to realize those ideals than his “revolution” approach. That’s a very compelling argument, I think, and one that could win over people on the fence. But instead she’s going for cheap smears, and that does nothing but underscore her own negatives — in particular, the perception that she has a history of selling out progressive principles for her own political expediency.
And yes, her campaign is starting to sound like a re-run of 2008 — when she lost, as I recall.