Wednesday, August 11, 2010

California Governor's Race :: Political Outsiders, Advertising, & Does the "Twitter Gap" Matter?

image:: Megmug from Zazzle

While taking the political temperature of the nation is getting more complicated with respect to how incumbents will fare this fall, I'm curious how Meg and Carly will do in their runs for California governor and US Senate, respectively. Both are ex-Silicon Valley execs. {of eBay and Hewlett-Packard, respectively} and while being from business may have had some cachet in the past, how will being a CEO and political outsider fare in a recession, in a blue state {actually purple} with high unemployment {12.2%, June 2010}, and in an era of increasing anti-corporate sentiments and backlash?

This ad, not by her Democratic opponent Jerry Brown but by California Working Families {a Democratic coalition}, is attacking her voting record::

with the subtext targeting Meg as an apolitical opportunist spending $150M on her campaign after not voting for 28 years.

Rassmussen has Meg and Jerry in a statistical dead heat with 10% undecided, which conventional wisdom states must be disappointing to Whitman's campaign after handily winning the primary against Poizner and spending on advertising all summer. Jerry Brown hasn't even started his advertising campaign. Media buys in California are expensive and running out of money can kill a campaign. Brown's sister, Kathleen, ran out of money in her 1994 bid for California governor against incumbent Pete Wilson. Clint Reilly, who ran Kathleen's campaign, has interesting insights on media strategy, citing the Brown campaign in 1994 and the Phil Angelides campaign against Schwarzenegger in 2006. His take is that you need to know when to spend. Kathleen had an expensive primary fight with Garamendi, so she ran out of money and couldn't counter Pete Wilson's negative ads. Angelides didn't counter Schwarzenegger's ad blitz in the summer of 2006. I was in the Bay Area that summer and The Governator was ubiquitous on the TV airwaves. By the time the fall rolled around, Angelides was so far down in the polls, there wasn't any daylight. Reilly's advice? Get the unions to spend on his behalf.

Whitman has pounced on this and tried to attack Brown's union ties and alleging in this ad that he's bought off by the special interests::

I think another media strategy is to mobilize through social media. Both candidates are in the same ballpark on Facebook with Brown and Whitman with 52,600 and 47,600 "likes", respectively. More pronounced is what I call the "Twitter gap"::

Brown has over 1.1M Twitter followers, compared to Whitman's 236,300. A solid social media strategy can leverage these followers to mobilize supporters, targeting specific geographic areas after analyzing results data, having conversations with supporters, and using microblogging via Twitter to create a sense of ocassion with the campaign and its events. One recommendation I have for candidates is despite the added potential burden by "friending" followers, doing so helps to create a stronger linkage and can create a channel of communication. I also think that the stronger the Tweets and conversations are linked to the campaign platform, the more personal relevance the campaign will have for followers.

Jerry Brown is no stranger to the use of the web. I recall his first bid for Mayor of Oakland when he solicited feedback on his website that tried to create a deep connection to Oakland on a neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood basis.

Song:: Hem-"Not California"

Twitterversion:: [blog] @Whitman2010 & @JerryBrown2010  tied in Calif Gov race. Meg apolitical opportunist? Does "Twitter gap" matter?  @Prof_K

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