Archive for the ‘Campaigns’ Category

2016 Convention Fundraising

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016 by Matthew Barnes

As we move into summer, those who are closely following the 2016 presidential campaign cycle have begun to start to looking ahead to the national party conventions in July and all the political drama that is expected with them. The Republican National Convention will be hosted in Cleveland from July 18th-21st, with the Democratic National Convention, kicking off the next week in Philadelphia from July 25-28th.  

However, this year’s conventions are facing an unforeseen challenge: corporate sponsorship. Both Republicans and Democrats are having trouble fundraising for their conventions. Politico reports, “Several Fortune 500 companies — including Bank of America, Duke Energy and Time Warner —are taking a pass on chipping in for the Democratic convention in Philadelphia or, with just 100 days to go until the event, won’t say whether they’ll participate. Target, which has had a presence at both parties’ conventions in the past, is joining other companies in skipping this summer’s events in Philadelphia and Cleveland.”

While the reason for not sponsoring a convention will vary from company to company, the New York Times has reported that, “Some of the country’s best-known corporations are nervously grappling with what role they should play at the Republican National Convention, given the likely nomination of Donald J. Trump, whose divisive candidacy has alienated many women, blacks and Hispanics.” This has had a knock-on effect for the Democrats as many companies prefer to give to both the Democrat’s and Republican’s convention, or neither of them. According to the Politico report, “People are more hesitant this time,” said one the lobbyists, who has worked at previous conventions. “And the clients that end up going don’t want to be featured as a marquee sponsor. Before, you would be fighting for signage. Now it’s about, let’s not fight [for] any branding.”

No matter the outcome in regard to fundraising, the conventions are fast becoming a must see political event.

Insights and Top 3 most likely Vice Presidential candidates

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012 by Vbhotla

With the GOP primary all but over, the focus has shifted from how will the Republican primary end to who will be the eventual VP pick. Usually, when picking VPs there are two schools of thought, does the person help you govern (a Dick Chaney or Joseph Biden pick) or does the person help you win the election (Sarah Palin). Given his background and how close this election is looking, most people are expecting Romney to make an “election” pick rather than a governing one. After all, it doesn’t matter how good at governing someone is if they don’t win.

However, unlike most lists, this one is about who is the most likely (not best), which why Sen. Rubio (R–FL), for example, is not on the list. This is certainly not because he wouldn’t be a good VP candidate, so before everyone jumps up and down, let me explain.

Two points: first if you’re Rubio, why would you want to tie your extremely bright future to a candidate you could have beaten in the primary? The last VP candidate on a losing ticket that went on to become president was FDR, and that was part of the 1920 ticket with James Cox. (I must confess, I had to look this obscure stat up.) Not exactly the kind of statistic you want to hang your hat on.

Second, if you’re Romney, why do you want someone who is just going to take all the headlines and might not do all the dirty work needed from a VP candidate in the general? You’d know that Rubio is going to be thinking about running someday so that will constantly be playing into all the decisions. (Like Palin) It would be like putting two candidates on the same ticket and just hoping they would work things out. Besides, there would also be the embarrassing fear that Rubio would come off as the better candidate and syphon off an electoral vote like Bentsen did to Dukakis. Much of the same case can be made for Paul Ryan (also, who picks Representatives?). So who does make it onto the list:

1. Bobby Jindal – Since the State of the Union rebuttal, Jindal has been building a very good VP resume. (Even if he did endorse Rick Perry first) He has the sold conservative credentials that Romney would be looking for. Also, he’s proven that he isn’t afraid of getting his hands dirty and is more than able to do the traditional offensive role of a VP nominee. Moreover, he would help close the “enthusiasm gap” that Romney is currently stuck in. Lastly and most importantly, but I don’t know how to say this in a politically correct way… he isn’t white. Which, if you’re the GOP candidate against President Obama, is kind of a big deal.

2. Bob McDonnell – Romney isn’t winning the election without winning Virginia, and McDonnell is a nice compromise between new and old Republican. He can help bridge the gap with the base without going too far to the right, has some national appeal, and can point to a growing VA economy during his time in office. The recent fight in VA over abortion will be an issue, but I don’t know if it is enough to disqualify him.

3. Rob Portman – The “traditional thinking” pick, which is also why I think he is likely. Also, he helps out in a desperately needed way in Ohio, which also needs to be won for Romney to have a shot. I like Portman, but he’s as inside Washington as VP picks gets and in a year with Congressional approval in the toilet that’s not a good thing.

Final note: if his last name wasn’t Bush, I would have Jeb as my #1 pick by a landslide.

Casualties of the System

Friday, March 2nd, 2012 by Vbhotla

Rep. Norm Dicks’ (D –Wash.) retirement announcement today, along with Rules Chairman Rep. David Dreier (R -Calif.) and Sen. Olympia Snowe’s (R – ME) shocker earlier this week, is a symptom of a larger problem in Washington, and one of the main reasons that retirements are up this cycle: being in Congress just isn’t as fun as it used to be. By any measuring stick, fewer things are getting done in a timely and regular fashion and people, both inside and outside the Beltway, are getting fed up with it. As a result, smaller problems are piling up on any number of legislative issues and fewer people feel like they have made a difference. Just talk with any staffer or lobbyist who has been in D.C. for more than 20 years and ask if all the technology that we have now have allowed them to accomplish more.

According to many of those staff, one of the reasons for this is that the nature of the fight between the parties has changed. Now the goal isn’t to win and get your legislation passed, but to not allow the other side to win. When Carl Perkins ran the House Education and Labor Committee, his standing order was that unless it would hurt one of the Democrats on the Committee, let the Republicans have the issue. As a result the members were actually civil to each other. One former member often told the story of the first time he met Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn. During a committee meeting, he said something that would be considered tame by today’s standards to a member across the aisle, but it got the freshman Dem summoned to the Speaker’s office. As he went to sit, Rayburn told him “I didn’t say you could sit down. I heard what happened in Committee and I’m going to tell you that we don’t speak to other members that way.” I can only imagine what Rayburn would have done if someone heckled President Truman during a State of the Union.

Part of the change in tone is due to a more “in your face” type news system that is constantly being broadcast. The dirty secret of 24/7 news is that really isn’t 24 hours of news being made every day, so anthills have to be turned into mountains for all the prime-time hours to be filled up. The rocketing influence of Twitter only ads to this phenomenon. One Senator a few years ago told me that it is Electronic Cigarettes “a lot easier to turn the other cheek when you are only hearing it once.” The changing format of the shows we get our news from has only exacerbated the problem, as Jon Stewart pointed out years ago. Since the news is constantly running campaign coverage because it draws eyeballs, the members, even if they are “safe” and not engaged in 24/7 fundraising, feel the sword of Damocles at all times. It is a lot harder to cut the guy across from you a break if you are only thinking about what will happen in November… 5 years from now.

Speaking of campaigns, increasingly gerrymandered districts are also having an increased impact. Dems controlled the House for more than 40 years with strangely constructed districts, yet most people would agree the debate was much more civil during much of that time. Additionally, the horrible apathy that voters have for the process gives the most partisan voters an outsized influence. That more people can name Brittany Spear’s ex-husbands than their own representatives is just an example of why both parties have to move further left or right. If only the wings of the parties are going to come out to vote in a primary, why care what the “average” person thinks?

Since the voters aren’t really watching (or rather doing anything about it), the checks and balances of the system have been thrown out of whack. These days neither party, despite the lip service they give, actually follows the rules. Between things like fired parliamentarians and former Majority Leaders saying that the “parliamentarian doesn’t run the [expletive deleted] floor, we do!” there is no longer a true referee for the game. Kind of gives the process an “inmates running the asylum”-type feel.

Sooner or later the pendulum will swing back to a system based on compromise, not extremes. At least no one these days is shooting or fist fighting anyone on the House or Senate floor (even if it has gotten close). Even when compromise was part of the M.O. of the day it still wasn’t as wonderful as the nostalgic, rosy-colored glasses “old timers” would have one believe. However, Members and staff, despite likely being able to make more in the private sector, signed up for the job to make a difference, and looking back on a career of only partisan fighting isn’t that appealing. No one wants to look back on a career and see they were a casualty of a system that won’t let anything happen.

Top 5 Presidential Campaign Ads since 1984

Friday, February 10th, 2012 by Vbhotla

While Super Bowl news usually fills the front page and sports section, rarely does it reach the political pages. This year, the superbly done Clint Eastwood ad for Chrysler did just that. “It’s Halftime in America” might be the best political ad that isn’t really a political ad at all. To find out, Lobbyblog constructed a list of the top 5 Presidential Campaign Ads since 1984.

5. 1988 – “Willie Horton” – One of two H.W. Bush ads to make the list, Willie Horton is something that belongs in any 80’s political time capsule, right next to a picture of Gary Hart and the “Monkey Business.” Very contemporary, it perfectly meshed with crime spikes of the 80’s and the public fears that came with them, which everyone at the time knew was entirely due to liberals. However, what really gave the ad staying power was how controversial and racially charged it was (and the fact that it got a second life when claims that it violated FEC laws were filed).

Use of controversial ads continues to this day (why not, Bush did win after all) with ads such as Jesse Helm’s (won) “Hands”, Corker’s (won) anti-Harold Ford Jr. ad, and Rep. Hoekstra’s (may win?) new “Spenditnow.” Aside from running the gauntlet of “kind of racist” to “did I just see that?!?” for the most part what bothers me is that unlike Willie Horton, they are really just poorly constructed campaign ads. However, the fact that we’re talking about them (Spenditnow has well over 1 million hits in less than a week) might just prove the saying there’s no bad press. NOTE: Of course it was never be mentioned in the ad, the furlong program that release Willie Horton was signed by a Republican governor of Mass, not Dukakis.

4. 1984 – “Morning in American” – When I saw the Clint Eastwood ad this past weekend, this ad was the first thing that went through my head. In my opinion, the brilliance of this one is that you can remove Reagan’s name and it would fit perfectly for a majority of politicians in almost any election. It is a great example of an ad that brands a candidate and creates positive emotions. While attack ads can help erode support for an opponent, they rarely motivate volunteer work on the ground outside of one or two groups that might be directly affected by the attack ad. Reagan, with his background in advertising, perfectly understood that a positive brand would (and did) translate into a very strong volunteer numbers. “Morning in America” was less about voting for Reagan and more about voting for an idea.

3. 2004 – “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” – There were really three that I wanted to put here, this, Kerry Windsailing (hit home the flip-flopping) and Wolves (one of Online Blackjack the best last-minute ads and taken directly from Reagan’s successful “Bears in the woods”). However, this one won out for three reasons: it was incredibly successful for what it was aiming to do, it helped to launch a national debate on 527 Groups (a debate that we are currently having and will have for the rest of the year) and, most importantly, my editor made me pick it.

The Swift Boat ads (there were a series of commercials) was so successful it made it seem that one of Kerry’s strengths going into the election (his wartime service) was actually one of his liabilities. If Willie Horton shows how to use an ad to hit an opponent’s weakness, the Swift Boat series showed how to nullify one of their strengths.

2. 2008 – “Yes, we can” – The only Democratic commercial on the list, (I can’t tell if that is good or bad) I consider this the evolutionary “Morning in America,” another great example of voting for an idea over a candidate. The star-studded ad based upon President Obama’s New Hampshire primary speech, much like the campaign itself, became as much a cultural phenomenon as a political one. This kind of simplicity was an easy, positive message that was missing from previous Democratic candidates Gore and Kerry. “Yes, we can” and the culture that it created showed that a good, positive message can win a campaign much better than a negative one. So why isn’t it #1 on the list?

1. 1988 – “Dukakis in a Tank” – There is a centuries old saying in American politics, don’t get in a tank or land on an aircraft carrier unless you are sure you are going to look awesome while doing so. (ed- I’d stress the ridiculous helmet over the tank. Tanks are cool, comically big headwear isn’t) Candidates that don’t heed this advice can watch as their own media stunt is turned into an effective ad for their opponent; and it is times like that things can go horribly wrong. And when Dukakis got in a tank, things went horribly wrong. Things went so wrong that even 14 years later the cartoon Futurama was making jokes about the tank incident. Though often used as a punch line now, it is easy to forget that at one point Dukakis was ahead in the polls by as many as 20 points at one time. However, by the end of the race, his VP candidate Lloyd Bentsen had appeared more presidential, even receiving one of his Electoral College votes.

BONUS: 2008 – “Rock” – I dare anyone to watch this ad and “Fire” and not ask themselves “How is Mike Gravel NOT the president right now?”

What did you think of the list? Love it? Hate it? Confused? Let us know by e-mailing the writer here.