This is fascinating. Campaigning appears to be far more effective than television advertising. As reported
by blogger Ragout,
According to a recent study
[400k pdf] by Harvard prof David King and Kerry/Gore campaign operative David Morehouse, local campaign stops are "very often a more effective way to move voters than blanketing an area with television advertisements." [...]
King & Morehouse examine polls before and after local stops in the 2000 presidential campaign, finding a boost of 1.5% in statewide polls and 17% in local media markets. For example, Gore went from being 7 points behind Bush in Lacrosse, WI a few weeks before visiting to 7 points ahead a few weeks afterwards, a gain of 14 points. Lacrosse is a small place, but there were still about 180,000 households in the media market. Gore won Wisconsin by less than 6,000 votes.
I plan on reading that study in greater detail this weekend, but it's got particular relevance given new studies showing that political advertising has been all but worthless
this presidential campaign.
More than half the consumers queried in a new Advertising Age poll conducted by Lightspeed International Research said the blitz of presidential campaign ads had not influenced them and in total, 92% said the ads had not swayed them to change their prospective votes.
Moreover, nearly one in four respondents found President George Bush's ads to date are not at all persuasive; 29% found Sen. John Kerry's ads not at all persuasive.
The online poll, conducted among 1,653 respondents nationally who have seen ads for both candidates, also breaks out eight battleground states. In those states, which are carrying the bulk of the presidential hopefuls' advertising, both candidates' ads are viewed as even less persuasive (only 17% found Mr. Bush's "very persuasive" vs. 8% for Mr. Kerry). It is possible that Mr. Kerry's poorer showing results from his campaign having been launched later than Mr. Bush's.
It's CW that ad effectiveness has plummeted over the past several cycles, with 10 times more ad tonnage required to move public opinion than a decade ago (or so). It's THE main reason for campaign cost inflation. There'll be a point when television advertising will no longer have the decisive impact it has today, which is already less than it did a while back. 150 channels, TiVo, and an increasingly jaded viewership make it inevitable.
So it may be that we come full circle, with the most important electoral gains made by actual campaign stops and the free media they generate. Throw in the Internet, and we may have an environment that begins to deemphasize the importance of television advertising and by extension, the importance and effect of money on the political process.
It's probably no coincidence that Dean's millions couldn't garner him the nomination, and that Bush's $80 million or so in attack ads haven't been able to do much damage to Kerry.
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