HUFFPOST FUNDRACE -- Obama's Big Advertising Experiment

05/22/2012 06:33 pm ET

Slate's Sasha Issenberg has a must-read article on the new approach to targeted advertising being deployed by the reelection campaign of President Barack Obama: "[S]cattered, unsustained messaging has become the unlikely hallmark of the well-funded Chicago campaign. The strategy was put into play even before Romney emerged as the Republican nominee. ...If these forays seem random, it’s because at least some of them almost certainly are. To those familiar with the campaign’s operations, such irregular efforts at paid communication are indicators of an experimental revolution underway at Obama’s Chicago headquarters. They reflect a commitment to using randomized trials, the result of a flowering partnership between Obama’s team and the Analyst Institute, a secret society of Democratic researchers committed to the practice, according to several people with knowledge of the arrangement. ...The Obama campaign’s “experiment-informed programs”—known as EIP in the lefty tactical circles where they’ve become the vogue in recent years—are designed to track the impact of campaign messages as voters process them in the real world, instead of relying solely on artificial environments like focus groups and surveys."

Mitt Romney is on a fundraising tear and WaPo's T.W. Farnum digs up a choice nugget on how his fundraising will aide state parties: "The Romney fundraising surge could be a boon to GOP congressional candidates, because Securities and Exchange Commission rules prohibit financial service executives from contributing to state parties as a guard against pay-to-play schemes in state and municipal bond markets. “It’s something that everyone in that industry is now highly sensitive to,” said Jason Torchinsky, a Republican campaign lawyer. “One contribution of a couple of thousand dollars could keep your company out of millions of dollars of business. The compliance risk is gigantic for these firms.” So some money from finance industry donors will be directed to the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, a Romney aide said. That is in contrast to Obama’s campaign, which has said it will not direct funds to House and Senate races."

Senate Democratic campaign hands are warning donors to get in the game soon. Super PACs and non-profits are bearing down hard on key Senate races, they warn, and Democrats need the money to respond. HuffPost's Sam Stein and Mike McCauliff write, "'The money,' Cecil told The Huffington Post, when asked what kept him up at night. 'Our allies need to wake up. Our allies need to understand that the majority in the Senate is in danger and that everything from jobs and the economy and women's health and Supreme Court justices, Wall Street reform -- all the things that they have worked so hard for -- will be for naught if we lose the Senate.' While Democratic Senate candidates have about $50 million more in the bank overall than their Republican counterparts, they have been outspent by a factor of nearly three to one -- $29.1 million to $9.3 million -- in the advertising wars, largely thanks to the outside groups and super PACs willing to spend unlimited amounts of money. According to data provided by a Democratic source familiar with ad buys, the biggest spender on Senate races has been the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has already pumped in more than $11 million for "issue" ads that benefit the GOP. After that come the Karl Rove-hatched groups American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, with at least $7 million. The group 60 Plus, billed as a conservative alternative to the AARP, has spent more than $4 million."

HuffPost's Mike Sacks talks to Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock on his fight against the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision. Meanwhile, HuffPost's Matt Sledge finds that that Supreme Court decision has unleashed corporate money into the Montana Republican primary race for Attorney General.

The New York Times got a behind-the-scenes look at Crossroads GPS' latest commercial, which will be backed by a $10 million ad buy. The Times calls it a "Subtler Entry From The Masters of Attack Ads." The ad is made by Larry McCarthy (HuffPost wrote about him here), who, despite his propensity for negativity, has a soft spot for ads that strike an emotional chord. His favorite ad he ever made was one cut for Progress for America in 2004. The ad featured a father retelling the story of his daughter, whose mother had died in the 9/11 attacks, being comforted by President George W. Bush at a parade in their town. That ad was the most aired ad of the 2004 cycle, almost entirely in Ohio. HuffPost's Jason Linkins takes issue with Times story, "The new, 'subtle' ad was created by perennial bloody-shirt waver Karl Rove and Larry 'I made the Willie Horton ad' McCarthy. But the message that Rove and the Crossroads Crew apparently want to convey, at this time, is that they aren't ready to be pointlessly brutal with their election ads. Not really! Or, at least not yet. Please just ignore the previous reports of their 'hard-hitting ad' that ran in the same newspaper, a week ago."

Lobbyists, including one who lobbied for a grant from the same government program that loaned money to Solyndra, are bundling a lot of money for Romney's campaign, reports iWatch News.

Obama is hitting Romney less than Bush hit Kerry in negative ads at this point, says Bloomberg.

The National Association of Broadcasters is suing the Federal Communications Commission to block a rule that would put political advertising buy information--already available for in-person review at broadcast stations--into an online database, to, you know, make it easier for the public to access them.


Help us populate our list of campaign videos. Send any notable TV, radio or web ads that you see to Fundrace. Send your submissions to paulblumenthal@huffingtonpost.com.

Committee: Crossroads GPS
Candidate Opposed: Barack Obama
Spot: "Basketball"
Market: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
Buy: $10 million.

Committee: Priorities USA Action
Candidate Opposed: Mitt Romney
Spot: "Lois And Ampad"
Market: Unknown.
Buy: Undisclosed.

Committee: Priorities USA Action
Candidate Opposed: Mitt Romney
Spot: "Republicans vs. Romney's Record"
Market: YouTube.
Buy: None. Just a web video.

Committee: Republican National Committee
Candidate Opposed: Barack Obama
Spot: "Dishonest Attacks, Dishonest Cover-up"
Market: YouTube.
Buy: None. Just a web video.

Committee: Republican National Committee
Candidate Opposed: Barack Obama
Spot: "Empty Promises: College Costs Still Rising"
Market: Unknown.
Buy: Undisclosed.

Committee: Ted Cruz for Senate
Spot: "Fighter"
Market: Texas.
Buy: Undisclosed.

Committee: Tom Leppert for Senate
Spot: "Choice"
Market: Texas.
Buy: Undisclosed.

Committee: Dan Llijenquist for Senate
Spot: "It's Time For A Debate"
Market: Utah.
Buy: Undisclosed.

Committee: League of Conservation Voters
Candidate Opposed: Ciro Rodriguez
Spot: "Ciro Rodriguez: Broken Promises"
Market: Texas' 23rd District.
Buy: Undisclosed.

Committee: Scott Walker for Governor
Spot: "Spending"
Market: Wisconsin.
Buy: Undisclosed.


These numbers represent spending by independent groups, like super PACs and non-profits, to support or oppose a particular candidate in 2012. Fundrace will update this spending daily to help show which candidates are gaining from the proliferation of independent groups in this coming election.

Presidential Race:
Mitt Romney (R), $7,327,516 to support, $12,382,717 to oppose. (Oppose: +$33,732)
Barack Obama (D), $491,730 to support, $1,290,831 to oppose. (Support: +$36,161; Oppose: +$11,762)

Most Outside Spending for Congressional Candidates:
IN-Senate: Richard Mourdock (R), $1,421,987 to support, $1,278,762 to oppose.
TX-Senate: Ted Cruz (R), $821,246 to support, $1,991,841 to oppose. (Oppose: +$300,000)
TX-Senate: David Dewhurst (R), $363,000 to support, $2,257,068 to oppose.
IN-Senate: Dick Lugar (R), $208,628 to support, $1,671,841 to oppose.
OR-01: Rob Cornilles (R), $98,051 to support, $1,219,148 to oppose.


Texas Conservatives Fund, $300,000 to oppose Ted Cruz for Senate in Texas.
Spirit of Democracy America, $16,655 to support Paul Cook for Congress in California's 8th District.
House Majority PAC, $75,240 to support Julia Brownley for Congress in California's 26th District.
Jobs Opportunity And Freedom PAC, $23,155 to support Brad Mitzelfelt for Congress in California's 8th District.
National Rifle Association of America Political Victory Fund, $4,587 to oppose Barack Obama for President.
Florida Watch Action, $9,155 to oppose Mitt Romney for President.
NARAL Pro-Choice America, $24,385 to support Barack Obama for President.
NARAL Pro-Choice America, $24,577 to oppose Mitt Romney for President.
United Food & Commercial Workers International Union Active Ballot Club, $11,776 to support Barack Obama for President.
Women Vote!, $23,425 to support Michelle Lujan Grisham for Congress in New Mexico's 1st District.
Women Vote!, $21,243 to support Julia Brownley for Congress in California's 26th District.
Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama, $7,175 to oppose Barack Obama for President.
Faith and Freedom Action, $2,003 to support Richard Mourdock for Senate in Indiana.
Spirit of Democracy America, $17,137 to support Paul Cook for Congress in California's 8th District.



Send tips, hints, submissions, rumors to HuffPost Fundrace at paulblumenthal@huffingtonpost.com.

Suggest a correction