Saturday, August 14, 2004

The Air War

I probably should have flipped my earlier metaphor, as it probably would've made more sense that way, but in any case since I had some unkind things to say about the media operations of the Kerry campaign let's talk about what they're doing right.

...Okay, first, the short version of what they're doing wrong - a crappy job of dealing with the beltway journalists/cable news bobbleheads/talk radio set.

What they're doing right - making it local. Making it hand to hand, cheek to cheek, person to person, politician to baby. On the ground campaigning, and its associated benefit - local media coverage. As the private nature of Bush's "public" events becomes more apparent, that coverage inevitably will favor the Kerry campaign. Some examples:

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - The Arizona Daily Sun characterized John Kerry's Sunday night rally in Heritage Square as "practically the second coming" and devoted its entire Monday front page to the blessed event.

Stories examined the opinions of undecided voters in the crowd, Teresa Heinz Kerry's speech, Indian issues and, for balance, protesters supporting President Bush.

You can't buy that kind of publicity. And that, in large measure, was the point of the Democratic presidential nominee's 4,971-mile trip from Boston to Oregon by bus and train, which ended on Friday.

A recent study by the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University found that, on a cost-per-vote basis, it's more effective to send a presidential candidate into smaller media markets than to buy advertising in major television markets. While millions of eyeballs see 30-second spots, local visits are better at moving voters, the research found.

This, they're doing well. The more the better. It's their surrogates who need better training.