As the old saying goes, money can’t buy you love. Nor, necessarily, an election.
There are loads of examples of rich people running for office, spending a ton of dough – and crapping out on Election Day. But the 2020 Democrat presidential race is really driving the point home.
Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg spent a combined $200 million on campaign television ads in 2019, and both are, at best, a blip at the bottom of voters’ radar screens.
As Eric Boehm of Reason magazine notes, “No other candidate in the field has spent more than $18 million on ads so far.” Yet Biden, Warren, Sanders & Buttigieg are all well ahead of the two Billionaire Boneheads.
“Yes,” Boehm writes, “it’s certainly true that money can buy access and influence in the political process. But when it comes to campaigns, money is only as good as the results it can produce.”
In that department, for all the money Bloomberg has spent on TV ads thus far ($120 million), I can’t recall seeing even one of them. So either his ad placements suck or they’re totally unmemorable.
I’ve seen Steyers’. I remember them. But only because they’re so BAD.
Every time I see one I think, “With all this guy’s money, couldn’t he hire an advertising firm to produce ads that don’t suck?”
So for all of you running an underfunded campaign against a deep-pocketed opponent, take heart. It’s not necessarily the amount of money being spent but HOW it’s being spent.
And in this day and age, pouring a ton of cash into TV ads probably doesn’t make much sense – no matter what your political consultant is telling you (especially if they’re getting a kick-back on the ad-spend).
But even money spent wisely as far as the media is concerned will still be a waste if you don’t have a compelling message. A campaign theme of, for example, “Experience you can count on” isn’t exactly gonna send a tingle up anyone’s leg.
The key communications objective of any campaign is to deliver the right message to the right audience using the right media at the right time.
Carpet-bombing the general population with lame, cookie-cutter TV ads won’t buy you an election. And throwing #$%! Against the wall and hoping some will stick is not a winning campaign strategy.
Just ask Mike Bloomberg and Tom Steyer.
You don’t have to match your opponent dollar-for-dollar to win. You just need to have a better message and raise/spend ENOUGH to get that message out in a cost-effective manner at the time voters are actually making up their minds.
Dr. Chuck Muth, PsD
THE CAMPAIGN DOCTOR
Professor of Psephology*
P.S. HAPPY NEW YEAR!