Posts Tagged: US Presidential elections

How Obama’s campaign uses sex and humour (Republicans stick to the apocalypse)

Lena Dunham: Your first timeThroughout the 2012 presidential there has been a marked difference between the style of message coming out of the Democratic and Republican presidential campaign teams.

Barack Obama’s campaign has at times been edgy and humorous.  Occasionally this has backfired, such as the Tumblr post asking women to “vote like your lady parts depend on it”.

Compare that to the more serious and fear mongering messages that have peppered the Mitt Romney campaign.

These approaches are highlighted perfectly, and the reaction to them, in two recent ads from the two camps. First there is the TV spot made by ‘Tiny Furniture’ and ‘Girls’ creator Lena Dunham, which has whipped up a mas of controversy as right wing pundits froth at the mouth about the ad, which compares voting for the first time to losing your virginity. Read more on How Obama’s campaign uses sex and humour (Republicans stick to the apocalypse)…

Democrats capitalise on #RomneyShambles with video highlighting gaffe

Mitt Romney, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics,The Democrats have wasted no time in taking advantage of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s Olympic gaffe after he insulted UK preparations for London 2012.

With the #hashtag #RomneyShambles now trending, as the story begins not only to resonate in the UK but in the US as well, the Democrats have produced a video summing up Romney’s British woes.

The incident forms an embarrassing foreign policy faux pas for Romney who is challenging Barack Obama in November’s US Presidential election. Read more on Democrats capitalise on #RomneyShambles with video highlighting gaffe…

The “rubber will hit the road” for the US in 2013, says Sorrell

With client confidence down, according to today’s IPA’s Bellwether report, Sir Martin Sorrell has popped up to say that WPP had a stronger than expected finish to 2011 and is looking forward to improving conditions in the US ahead of a lucrative period of election campaign spending.

However, 2013 things will again get bumpy, he says in an interview in the FT. Read more on The “rubber will hit the road” for the US in 2013, says Sorrell…

Obama digital guru says it can work for Labour

Good piece in the Guardian today talking to Thomas Gensemer who was behind Barack Obama’s groundbreaking digital campaign.

Gensemer is in town to launch an office of his agency Blue State Digital, which was recently appointed by a group fighting the British National Party’s attempt to win seats in the European parliament elections this June.

Gensemer reckons he has some lessons for Gordon Brown and Labour having recruited 13.5m supporters and raised $500m for the Obama campaign via

He told the paper that it isn’t about the technology, but that the real questions are: “What are your goals, and how can you use technology to achieve them? Our biggest sales pitch is that we couple the services along with the technology. A lot of our competition just sells technology, and the types of organisation and causes that we like to work with, if I go in and sell them really powerful technology, it doesn’t do them any good, because they don’t have the wherewithal to make sense of it.”

He says he wants to demystify online campaigning and argues that organisations can build very quickly if they do the messaging right.

We’ve seen that a lot recently with the anti-Israeli protests. I don’t agree with these groups, but it has been interesting how these grass roots groups have used social media to organise very effectively.

Gensemer is right when he says that any campaign, be it the Democrats or Labour, has to nurture active supporters, rather than passive donors. It has to be about the grass roots, down to what the CLPs and wards are doing as much as anything.

Labour and Labour activists have already made a start with a couple of sites, which we’ve written about here. With the launch of Derek Draper’s and the Party’s

There’s also been digital agency Tangent One appointing former Labour Party head of corporate comms, Paul Simpson, to manage its Labour Party account and Labour turning to Twitter and Facebook to keep in touch with constituents with a The new campaign that allows MPs to upload communication targeted at their constituents on Facebook, Twitter and through email.

Launching all of this is fine, but Labour like any party has to work hard to ensure that it gets the simple stuff right (Gensemer relates a story about people asked to email in their views – but four days and 78,000 emails later nothing had been read) and ensuring that social media becomes part of the DNA rather than window dressing. It is also essential, Gensemer says, that it is not about gimmicks, which is always a danger when new things (like Twitter) suddenly emerge and the bandwagon is boarded.

“They have focused too much on gimmicks and what they can sell to the press. Now Labour MPs are using Twitter, but the political capital that went into getting a couple of MPs to Twitter probably wasn’t worth it. Prescott’s petition on the bankers has 15,000 signatures, but what are they asking people to do? You could have asked for different things that would create a greater sense of engagement. None of this is a technology challenge; it’s an organisational challenge, being willing to communicate with people.”

Gensemer tells the paper he is convinced that the social media digital approach can work even in the much less geographically disparate UK.

And then he gets to what he is really here for: to win the Labour Party digital election campaign for Blue State Digital having already set out their stall with work on Jon Cruddas’s bid in 2006-07 for the Labour deputy leadership and Ken Livingstone’s unsuccessful re-election bid last year for London mayor.

“We’re very eager, and I think it would work equally well here. I don’t think they’re going to raise a half a billion dollars, but it certainly would raise far more money than it costs and you could make a big difference. As our work with Jon Cruddas and Ken Livingstone shows, if you ask people to do things they will do it, in similar numbers that we see in the States.”

Read more on Obama digital guru says it can work for Labour…

A truck load of guns and some followers to boot

It isn’t just the Democrats and the fans of Barack Obama who are getting excited about Twitter the Republicans are at it as well.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal at a recent debate, the candidates to become chairman of the Republican National Committee were asked whether they have any followers. Just to be clear, the person asking the question was not talking about followers back at the compound, but on Twitter – this was of course after they had let people know the important statistics – like how many guns they owned.

Were you expecting a hushed silence? Anything but, Michael Steele, a former lieutenant governor of Maryland, was a little vague, but “Last time I checked, ” he said, “300 to 400”. Maybe it was his PA who checked.

Another candidate, the paper reported, Katon Dawson, chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, said he would have been Twittering just then, but explained: “I’m just not doing it today because you told us we couldn’t.”

We all know it’s a game of one upmanship. How many posts have you read on Twitter that start “Wow, just got my 500/1000 follower” and Republicans are just the same.

Ken Blackwell, a former secretary of state of Ohio, came out with: “I do Twitter, but let me just say I have 4,000 friends on Facebook, which is probably more than these two guys put together, but who’s counting?”

But Ken Facebook is so then, it’s not very now (says moi with a paltry 120 friends or the abouts…).

The WSJ reports that after getting its butt digitally kicked in the 2008 US Presidential election (to be fair they still got 46% of the vote), the Republican Party is taking a close look at what it does online and has made “winning the technology war with the Democrats” the No. 1 priority.

This started straight after the election with a Republican party technology consultant starting a site devoted to getting Republicans on Twitter. So far, so far to go.

According to a report on the Hill Republican members of Congress have slowly increased their use of the Twitter, with some Tweeting directly and some being moderated by their staffs. According to the website, which tracks lawmakers’ Twitter feeds, 29 Republican members are on Twitter, compared to 16 Democrats and one Independent: Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.

Overall, around 168 RNC voting-members use Twitter. Both parties have a way to go, but for it to work you need to have the big players involved and actively selling the technology. That’s just not the case.

The WSJ revealed in the piece how Mike Duncan, the incumbent RNC chairman up for re-election, was bushwhacked in a recent interview with conservative talk-radio host Hugh Hewitt about the technology gap between the GOP and the Democrats.

After Mr. Duncan, 57, called the gap a “big myth,” Mr. Hewitt pressed him.

“Are you on Twitter, by the way, Mike Duncan?” asked Hewitt, himself a heavy Twitterer.

“I do not Twitter,” Duncan replied.

Duncan said he did not like to be distracted by Twitter. Mike, I have to tell you I know that problem also.

Read more on A truck load of guns and some followers to boot…

Labour Party wakes up to social media

Much has been written about how important social media and online was to Barack Obama’s presidential election campaign and now the Labour Party is moving ahead with its own plans with several different initiatives.

The first part of that was unveiled last week by Labour Party strategist, Derek Draper, who unveiled, which is designed to rival the Tory site ConservativeHome.

Other elements on the way include a “take to the web” initiative that will ensure that key ministers appear on popular online forums and on the social media front there will be a Labour Party HQ blog and a focus on producing virals and widgets.

The ideas were part of a presentation drawn up in December that grasps the real digital opportunity for Labour and that is building new social networks to replace those that have disappeared.

Read more on Labour Party wakes up to social media…

New Yorker publishes second "outrageous" Obama cover

Having depicted Barack Obama and his wife Michelle as terrorists back in July the New Yorker has done it again with another cover that is less innocent than it looks.

Read more on New Yorker publishes second “outrageous” Obama cover…

It was the blogs that called Obama victory

An historic election and a welcome historic victory for Barack Obama that was called online by some of the big political blogs and news sites before the US TV networks, which having been burned by exit polls in 2000 and 2004 took the cautious route.

There’s already been an avalanche written about how this election was one like no others in terms of its online impact through digital media – it being dubbed the social media election by some. The much written about uses of services like Twitter, YouTube, blogs all played a role so it is satisfying to see websites come out on top as the victory was called.

“Obama Wins the Presidency” Slate reported at 9:27 p.m a solid 90 minutes before the first of the networks called it. Right after Slate came The Page with “The Networks Won’t Tell You, but The Page Will: Barack Obama Will Be the 44th President of the United States”.

On its homepage Slate, said: “In proud Slate tradition, we bring you the exit polls bouncing around that they won’t talk about on TV.”

Although there was a hedging proviso: “They are not the real thing, nor are they guaranteed to bear any semblance to the real thing”.

It then showed all the data showing Obama ahead in Florida, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

While the web called it at 9:30, the TV networks did not call it for another one and a half hours at 11pm after the polls had closed in the West and Barack Obama had the 270 electoral college votes he needed.

Charles Gibson on ABC News told everyone how it was going to be fore the networks early on when he said “We are not going to project a winner in this election until one candidate has reached the 270 number.”

You can understand why. Remember 2000? The networks called Florida for the Democrats and Al – loser – Gore before 8 pm based on exit polls and we all know how that turned. Ouch.

Same again in 2004 as John Kerry (who?) was shown to have a commanding lead over George W Bush. Exit for the exit polls. This time it was definitely going to be different.

The networks loss was the web’s gain. The Huffington Post as well called it early and in the process the sties racked up hundreds and hundreds of comments as people debate and engaged. In the UK, Harry’s Place where I blog racked up more than 500 comments as people debated throughout the night.

Despite all their supper splashy graphics the US networks held back and were restrained not following the lead of the web rivals, which must have been galling for many network TV journalists and presenters.

As the New York Times put it they held back “saying that exit surveys and actual vote counts did not permit them to proclaim a victor”.

“The headline is, well, there’s still no call in a number of key battleground states,” Katie Couric said on CBS News at 8 p.m., before ticking off a list that included Florida and Virginia.

An hour and a half later as CBS and others gave McCain the must win state of Ohio to Obama Couric’s on screen partner Bob Schieffer said, “I don’t see how John McCain can win now. I think Barack Obama is going to be the president of the United States. That’s just the shortest way I can put it.”

Couric replied “The cake is baked, in your view?”


Even with that, with the cake being baked CBS and its television rivals waited another one and a half hours, and did not officially call the race until 11 pm when polls closed in California and Obama’s electoral college tally passed 270.

It’s maybe then that you need a network to sum it up as Brian Williams on NBC drew the parallels with the Kennedy generation:

“There will be young children in the White House for the first time since the Kennedy generation. An African-American has broken the barrier as old as the Republic.”

Read more on It was the blogs that called Obama victory…

Follow the election on Twitter

There are so many ways to follow the US election tonight, but one proving really popular is Twitter. gives constant updates from across the US while the polls are open including the current length of queues, which has been one eye opening features of this very exciting US election where Barack Obama looks set to make history.

In Herndon, Virginia, for instance there is currently a wait time to vote of 150 minutes and a similar one in North Charleston, South Carolina.

As Digital Blogger has posted and many others have written this has been a huge digital election and social media has been a big part of that. It looks like it might well be the tipping point for Twitter as it crosses from the geekstream to the mainstream.

There are only a few obstacles in its path…oh wait one of those is how do you turn a profit with the is micro blogging service? Answers on a digital postcard.


Read more on Follow the election on Twitter…

Obama is marketer of the year

The Barack Obama campaign is an unprecedented advertising and marketing machine that is now running four times as many ads as John McCain. It has also been the most diverse and smart marketing campaign we’ve ever seen in politics, or elsewhere for that matter, and no surprise that he has been named marketer of the year for 2008 by a US magazine.

He is days away from breaking the $188m advertising spending record set by President George W. Bush in his re-election campaign in 2004 and unless something truly extraordinary happens (he converts is Islam or actually befriends a “real terrorist”) he will be the next president of the United States.

The huge gap, of course, comes from Obama’s decision to opt out of the federal campaign finance system, which while it gives candidates a dollar for every dollar they raise it limits this to $84m. McCain stayed in the system and is just looking out at his cash pile looks puny in comparison to Obama’s.

“What Obama is doing is being his own good cop and bad cop,” said Evan Tracey, the chief operating officer of CMAG, who has described the ad war “a blowout” in Obama’s favour. The implication being he is playing both candidates in some markets as McCain in a marketing sense is not present.

His advertising fund has also proved vital to US networks, and other media outlets, where it has proved a massive fillip in this downturn as other avenues of revenue dry up. Whether it has been TV, radio, the internet, social networking or online gaming, the Obama campaign has been there, which is why he rightly won the Advertising Age plaudit.

Read more on Obama is marketer of the year…