Sunday, October 25, 2009

TV ads aren't the answer in #Maine | Bilerico

Matt Foreman, former director of The Task Force has some great insight into the NoOnOne Maine campaign:
"So, what's our side supposed to do in the heat of a campaign? Put up an ad that says, 'This will never happen! The other side is a bunch of sleazy, lying, utterly hypocritical dirtbags!' Not only does this approach turn off the movables, it simply doesn't respond to or calm the fears raised by the ads from the other side. In fact, in the brief window of a campaign there's absolutely no way to educate voters about the nature of sexual orientation or put parents at ease about talking about sex with their children. The only way through these attacks is to respond with calm and to simultaneous appeal to higher, better and still visceral values.

Finally, all of the focus on television ads, both in Maine and California, misses a huge point, namely, that advertising rarely moves more than a tiny fraction of people to change their minds on any candidate, subject or product that people feel they know well. And if there's one issue that everyone thinks they know about, it's marriage.

Yet, somehow, people expect one or two ads to be the magic bullets that make broad swaths of people on either side of the issue jump up and say, 'Damn it! I've been wrong about marriage and gay people all along!' Please.

That's precisely why, when it comes to marriage, ads cannot do it - they must be matched with face-to-face conversations with voters. That ultimately was our downfall in California - our side just didn't have the capacity to do this because the scale was too large and our infrastructure too small. In Maine, the scale is more manageable: 275,000 votes to win as compared to over 5.5 million in California."

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