Campaign Management

Reconciling Conventional Wisdom and New Data on Direct Mail

A recent study conducted by the American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC) in conjunction with the United States Postal Service (USPS) found that 75 percent of Millennial voters, those aged 18-35, “use political mail to remind them when to vote.” At first glance, this seems to be a surprising finding especially comparing it to the older generation of voters, only 58 percent of whom are motivated by direct mail to go vote. It also stands in stark contrast to established academic studies on the topic of mail used as a turnout tool.

In their book Get Out the Vote: How to Increase Voter Turnout, political scientists Donald P. Green and Alan S. Gerber explore the gambit of GOTV tactics employed by campaigns, compiling the results of dozens of studies which rigorous field-tested each tool. Of utilizing direct mail as a GOTV tool, Green and Gerber write, “Direct mail is expensive (more…)

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Presidential Budget Woes

Campaigns fail for a variety of reasons. Some reasons are beyond the control of the campaign and its manager: A crowded field, an upset or apathetic electorate, or an unimpeachable opponent. Some failures can be traced back to a candidate: Skeletons in the closet, gaffes, and laziness. And many flops fall squarely on the shoulders of the campaign manager; one of those failures is the inability to maintain budget control. In addition to a campaign manager’s roles in developing and executing strategy, hiring and managing staff, and being a surrogate for the boss, the task of staying in the black is solely the responsibility of the campaign manager.

Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported on the campaign of Dr. Ben Carson, the pediatric neurosurgeon who has skyrocketed to conservative fame in a short period of time. The Journal scoured financial documents from the Carson presidential campaign and found “[Dr.] Carson’s team raised $8.8 million in October and spent $9.5 million—putting the retired neurosurgeon’s effort under water months before the first early-state voters caucus and cast ballots.”

It appears “Carson fever,” as campaign manger Barry Bennett called it, has become scarlet fever because of all the red ink. And sadly, Carson’s is not the first campaign to fall victim to budgetary mismanagement this cycle. (more…)