Monday, December 06, 2004

The Campaigns and the Media II

Earlier, I mentioned my fascination with how the Bush campaign found other ways of reaching voters than broadcast television: cable, radio, the Internet, even health clubs. (A few years ago, when I was studying interest group electioneering, more than one staffer told me of their belief that broadcast was no longer particularly effective at reaching voters).

This article in the New York Times details how the Bush campaign decided to de-emphasize broadcast, after discovering that Republicans watch less over-the-air TV than do Democrats. Using marketing data, they instead tried to target their media campaign more carefully to sympathetic voters who listen to Christian radio or watch NASCAR. They also tried to reach busy people who listen to talk radio in the car or watch TV at the health club, but don't watch much at home.

Of course, the real fun in the article is the comparisons between the most Democratic and Republican consumer goods and leisure activities:

Democrats Republicans

Cable TV Game Show Network, Golf Channel (duh!)
Court TV Speedvision (NASCAR)

Late Night TV Letterman Leno (if they watch at all)

TV Sports Pro basketball, Auto racing,
Arena football college football (roll, Tide, roll!)

Participant Dancing, Water skiing,
Sports basketball snowmobiling

Cars Volvo (duh!), Subaru Porsche, Jaguar

Of course, many of the most popular cars (Pontiac, Buick, Chevrolet, Toyota) sell about equally to Democrats and Republicans. Among luxury cars, Land Rovers and Audis lean Republican, while BMWs and Mercedeses are more bipartisan. Volkswagen was one of the most Democratic brands, probably because the "New Beetle"is famously a "chick car." Japanese cars generally sell more to Democrats, while behemoths like Jeeps and GMC trucks, perfect for cruising around sprawling exurbs, are not surprisingly staunchly GOP.

Not all the findings were so obvious. The Bush campaign discovered that "Will and Grace" was popular among younger Republican women, and so bought heavily on the program, although Kerry advertised on it even more. On the one hand, this could show that all the "culture war" talk is overblown, especially as younger, gay-friendly voters replace the "Ozzie and Harriet" generation. (A prominent political scientist told me once that he had *never* seen public opinion change so rapidly on an issue as it has on gay rights over the past decade or so). On the other, well, Andrew Sullivan has a different take.


Anonymous said...

After reading this, I ended up trying to understand where did Portuguese politicians reached for votes. Unlike America here they can't buy time on television, they have to make huge efforts to appear in the news. And they spend the campaign running around the country giving kisses and hugs to the people. (Eventually they modernized themselves and some give refrigerators).
Funny how Portugal that is in the top 30 countries on almost all rankings, has a political system so closed in himself and unable to take the good examples of the American and European political systems in account to proceed to a new and better system.

Anonymous said...


The Bush campaign decided to "de-emphasize" broadcast? Not on the planet I live on. Take a look at where the dollars went and then come back and tell us if you really think they de-emphasized broadcast.