The just-out Rolling Stone has an interesting piece that points to an achilles heel of Democratic Presidential campaigns: the media consultant.
Money quote (emphasis mine):
The party’s campaign strategists operate under contracts that would make Halliburton blush. While their GOP counterparts work for a flat fee on presidential campaigns, Democratic media consultants profit on commission, pocketing as much as ten percent of every dollar spent on TV ads.
Which perverts the incentives of such political strategists. The inevitable Joe Trippi riposte:
“There’s little impetus to try anything new,” says Joe Trippi, who orchestrated Howard Dean’s insurgency in 2004. “You can’t get a ten percent commission on a million people viewing something for free on YouTube.”
(By the way: if you think Trippi’s avoided this trap, check out his employment history.)
I’ve been dragged kicking and screaming into believing that, yes, the television commercial is has more life in it than some like to claim, but Trippi’s absolutely right. I cannot imagine any serious marketing mind thinks that a never-ending series of consistently awful TV commercials that bludgeon potential customers with brute repetition and annoying ubiquity will work—but that’s exactly what political advertising does!
I’ve long been kind of obsessed with this notion—for that matter, I’ve long been kind of obsessed with how hideously square and hidebound the culture surrounding politics is—and wrote about it in greater detail here.