Not A Bet We’d Make

Has Obama indeed reinvented the art and science of winning elections, or will 2008 turn out to have been a unique moment that suited the particular gifts of one politician? The Democrats are about to lay down $50 million to find out.

It may take a tough man to make a tender chicken as the old tv commercials advised. It takes real cajones (or desperation) for Democrats to drop $50 million this Fall on the Twilight vampire generation hoping to save their congressional hides. That’s the sum Democrats will spend trying to turn out 2008 first time voters and the youth demo responsible in part for ‘Brand Obama’.

Seems a misfire. To us, America electorally embraced Obama but also rejected Bushism. Either way, never in 2008 did we see people clamoring for more of that DNC mojo. How many signs did you see demanding “UNLEASH HARRY REID”? Yeah, same here. It’s a huge risk not only because Obama’s not on the ballot. His coat tails are truncated by circumstance and his decisions as made clear in several elections already. Gallup notes Obama’s personal approval is trending up yet remains below 50%.

Back over at DailyKos, there is bewilderment at some Movement direct ‘mail’ fund-raising. For a sophisticated site it’s surprising they don’t get direct ‘mail’ is irrelevant to actual political positions let alone actual governance. It’s all designed for two things only: (a) to get noticed; and (b) acted upon. Back in the day (before Interwebs, FaceSpace and ‘tweets’) when we did a conservative (sometimes Republican) direct *mail* piece, if 1.5-2% responded, the mailing was a success. Out of maybe tens of thousands. It’s the same now but made harder because people are in IMs, Farmville, reading email, watching video and panicking that the co-worker sexted again after everyone agreed to call it off.

To cut through direct ‘mail’ must impact like emotional dynamite and galvanize someone to write a cheque or better yet, click ‘donate now’. Sound policy, rational dialogue and reason are *right out*. The stuff DailyKos complains about is exactly what a group seeking money (or later get-out-the-vote) needs to do: piss people off in the most lurid ways imaginable.

When we used to mail actual letters (yes in the Dark Times, before Netscape, Whitesnake, Human League or skinny ties) a successful direct mail artist knew the key: it’s all in the P.S. People – if they bother to even read the thing – will skip to the end almost immediately. A true artist concocts a ‘closing’ P.S. of staccato raging threat, palpable fear and tantalizing hope. A good close and P.S. could make or break successful yields.

Which brings us back to the $50 million. This crude stuff works with both parties’ bases. Like Mad Libs, one could do a noun and verb switch between each other’s outreach and likely get fairly harmonious results. Substance aside and all that. Sure would be nice if all of us here could get a chunk of that change. Still, hard to see a soft ‘Brand Obama’ like operation (without Obama on the ballot, no less) that mobilizes young and first time voters in 2008 pulling Democratic levers in November.

Bureaucratically, it may make sense in as a CYA post-election prophylactic. When the finger pointing begins, one can go on MSNBC and say ‘Hey, look we did everything we could to keep the majorities (except govern – ed). We even took ads out on Maxim.com. That’s being aggressive.” We can also see it going the other way. One wonders. An extra $50 million could help get committed but dispirited Democrats and opponents of Movement Revanchism to hold their nose and vote for this crowd again. As the least worst alternative.

Unless people see something we missed (not for the first time).