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James Boyce

James Boyce

Posted: January 22, 2007 12:18 PM

The Billion Dollar Question For 2008


Money talks in politics, always has, always will. But what the money is saying right now as it concerns the Presidential Race in 2008 is increasingly concerning.

Senator Hillary Clinton has announced she will opt out of public financing for the primary and the general election. The Republican Nominee will be forced to follow. Some estimates are that the two nominees will raise, and spend, $1 billion in the race for The White House.

Where does the money go?

Well, the majority goes into television. Bad television with huge amounts of money behind it because the creative is awful. Someday someone will finally understand that better creative means the spots have to run less but don't bet on a consultant telling you that because the more the campaigns spend, the more the consultants make. (Bob Shrum is rumored to have $8 million reasons why he won in 2004, maybe more.)

Ironically, after the 2004 Kerry loss, I tried to get the DNC interested in a program where we would analyze the effect of the hundreds of millions of dollars that was spent on television by the Kerry Campagn, the DNC and like-minded groups. Coming out of a marketing background, I was intrigued by issues such as the fact that tens of millions of dollars had been pumped into Florida but John Kerry had lost ground versus George Bush in that state when compared to Al Gore's performance.

I also realized that the hundreds of millions of dollars spent by the Democrats on television was spent in really just fifteen states. And in less than 120 days. Annualize and nationalize the spend ad in 2004, we just might have been the largest single television advertiser in America.

Surely, we would want to know if it worked or not right?

Actually no.

This is where the DC consultant class works with the DC insiders and uses the DC media to control spin and coverage. Of course, television works they claim. And tv should be part of the mix, but there's no way you can justify spending $100,000,000 and losing and not take the time to see what really went on. It's inexcusable.

Imagine if we banned all political television advertising. Or limited all political advertising to the last 30 days. What if candidates could spend two years thinking about how to solve our problems - not thinking about how to raise $100 million in six months so they can compete.

We will spend a billion dollars electing a President. I'll bet we can figure out how to do it for half that.

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