TV ads vs. boots on the ground

Which do you think is more effective in a political campaign?  Having lots of campaign workers and volunteers organized in key districts, knocking on doors, working the phones, handing out flyers, and getting out the vote?  Or running lots and lots of television ads?

We’re going to see which strategy works better.  The Obama campaign is concentrating on having lots of boots on the ground.  Currently the Democrats have three times more campaign workers than the Republicans do, and they are setting up tight regional and local organizations.  The Romney campaign, flush with money, has decided to concentrate its efforts instead on  television ads.

So, how much do you enjoy political ads?  Do you think the rest of the country appreciates them more than you do?  (Another reason for what DonS so aptly terms my legendary pessimism!)

See  Obama campaign is depending on a strong ground game against Romney – The Washington Post.

See also this.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • fjsteve

    Unfortunately, I think the television ads work. I say unfortunately because I personally hate being lied to and I just assume that most television deals in lies, untruths, and distortions of varying degrees. But I also think that with the newer technology this is probably the last election where television will have such a huge impact.

  • fjsteve

    Unfortunately, I think the television ads work. I say unfortunately because I personally hate being lied to and I just assume that most television deals in lies, untruths, and distortions of varying degrees. But I also think that with the newer technology this is probably the last election where television will have such a huge impact.

  • Carl Vehse

    “The Obama campaign is concentrating on having lots of boots on the ground.”

    Includingjackboots on the ground at Nov. 6th polling places.

  • Carl Vehse

    “The Obama campaign is concentrating on having lots of boots on the ground.”

    Includingjackboots on the ground at Nov. 6th polling places.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    What is this thing called tv ads?

    I don’t know how many people there are who have similar watching habits as I do, but watching shows via the internet I don’t see much in the way of advertising outside of hulu.com because I can’t block the ads embedded in the video feed. So, I wonder if tv ads are even remotely worth the money especially when you factor in people’s habits of using dvrs to edit out ads.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    What is this thing called tv ads?

    I don’t know how many people there are who have similar watching habits as I do, but watching shows via the internet I don’t see much in the way of advertising outside of hulu.com because I can’t block the ads embedded in the video feed. So, I wonder if tv ads are even remotely worth the money especially when you factor in people’s habits of using dvrs to edit out ads.

  • Darren A. Jones

    I’m with Dr. Luther. We only use our TV for videos, and not many of those. The shows we watch, we watch via Netflix. We got cable for 2 weeks during the Olympics and were shocked by how many political ads there were. And we always mute the commercials anyway, so I didn’t listen to them.

    But I’m also the politically-savvy, activist type who chose my candidate months ago, so I don’t think TV ads are aimed at me anyway.

  • Darren A. Jones

    I’m with Dr. Luther. We only use our TV for videos, and not many of those. The shows we watch, we watch via Netflix. We got cable for 2 weeks during the Olympics and were shocked by how many political ads there were. And we always mute the commercials anyway, so I didn’t listen to them.

    But I’m also the politically-savvy, activist type who chose my candidate months ago, so I don’t think TV ads are aimed at me anyway.

  • http://theoldadam.com/ Steve Martin

    I have not watched a political ad in 2o years.

    God bless the inventor of the remote control.

  • http://theoldadam.com/ Steve Martin

    I have not watched a political ad in 2o years.

    God bless the inventor of the remote control.

  • Steve Billingsley

    I am rather dubious as to the contents of this article. I am reasonably sure that the Romney campaign will emphasize campaign workers and volunteers as well. It isn’t an either/or choice. It is both/and. The Obama campaign certainly believes in TV ads because in the last 2 months of the campaign in 2008 they outspent the McCain campaign 3-1 (5-1 in targeted swing states). The only reason this is being floated is that they don’t have that kind of advantage this time.

  • Steve Billingsley

    I am rather dubious as to the contents of this article. I am reasonably sure that the Romney campaign will emphasize campaign workers and volunteers as well. It isn’t an either/or choice. It is both/and. The Obama campaign certainly believes in TV ads because in the last 2 months of the campaign in 2008 they outspent the McCain campaign 3-1 (5-1 in targeted swing states). The only reason this is being floated is that they don’t have that kind of advantage this time.

  • Jon

    Hey–but the WaPo isn’t counting all those Romney boots already on the ground. Who hasn’t been visited by Mormon missionaries at least once in the last year? What more boots on the ground positive advertising could he possibly need than the missionaries?

  • Jon

    Hey–but the WaPo isn’t counting all those Romney boots already on the ground. Who hasn’t been visited by Mormon missionaries at least once in the last year? What more boots on the ground positive advertising could he possibly need than the missionaries?

  • http://theoldadam.com/ Steve Martin

    If Mormon missionaries come round to my home asking me to vote for Mitt, I think I will be in need of a good criminal defense lawyer.

  • http://theoldadam.com/ Steve Martin

    If Mormon missionaries come round to my home asking me to vote for Mitt, I think I will be in need of a good criminal defense lawyer.

  • Carl Vehse

    “He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. ” (2 John 1:9-11)

  • Carl Vehse

    “He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. ” (2 John 1:9-11)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    People, you are not everyone. Just because you do things one way doesn’t mean everyone else does.

    I know it’s tempting to believe that you have outsmarted people, even though you only have a smattering of knowledge about what they’re doing. But, in general, it’s still true that people don’t spend money without good reason.

    So if the campaigns are spending vast amounts of money on TV ads, odds are quite good that they are satisfied with the returns they are seeing in the polls (or at least in media coverage).

    Of course, there could be complicating factors. Maybe they’re desperate. Maybe they have so much money they just don’t know what to do. I don’t think either applies at the moment.

    So you’ve learned how to watch TV over the Internet. Or to use your DVR. Or whatever. That’s great. Do you really think everyone else does that?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    People, you are not everyone. Just because you do things one way doesn’t mean everyone else does.

    I know it’s tempting to believe that you have outsmarted people, even though you only have a smattering of knowledge about what they’re doing. But, in general, it’s still true that people don’t spend money without good reason.

    So if the campaigns are spending vast amounts of money on TV ads, odds are quite good that they are satisfied with the returns they are seeing in the polls (or at least in media coverage).

    Of course, there could be complicating factors. Maybe they’re desperate. Maybe they have so much money they just don’t know what to do. I don’t think either applies at the moment.

    So you’ve learned how to watch TV over the Internet. Or to use your DVR. Or whatever. That’s great. Do you really think everyone else does that?

  • fjsteve

    tODD, #10,

    This is true. Even with streaming video consumption, television advertising expenditures, as a percentage of total advertising, still rise year by year; with syndication being the highest and network television coming in second. Though I think the rate of increase is slowing and it’s expected to begin decreasing sometime in the next year or so.

  • fjsteve

    tODD, #10,

    This is true. Even with streaming video consumption, television advertising expenditures, as a percentage of total advertising, still rise year by year; with syndication being the highest and network television coming in second. Though I think the rate of increase is slowing and it’s expected to begin decreasing sometime in the next year or so.

  • Grace

    I watch very little Television, I find most of it boring, except for special news, events, featured film, and sports. Talking with others, that I know, they aren’t much different. Ads don’t make much difference, the world has changed dramatically, in the past 20 years. When I am watching TV, and the ads start, I head for the kitchen, check out my email, or anything, other than ads.

    In WORLD Magazine, dated August 25, 2012 in the “Mailbag” page 72, there is a letter from a man in Albuquerque, N.M.

    “We must cast a vote that could enhance the spread of Mormonism at home and abroad. Yes, if Obama is reelected, it will be detrimental for our nation. However, although I cherish America, it is merely a kingdom of man. We must instead place priority on the kingdom of God.”

    ⚊ Jim Lasche, Albuquerque, N.M.

    EXCELLENT letter!

    Carl @9, perfect passage of Scripture, thank you.

    Mormons banging on doors in this area are not welcome. They rarely show up anymore. And this being a conservative Republican area won’t change the fact that many will NOT vote for Romney or Obama, no matter what ads they have, or whatever they blither. One is a Socialist to the core, and the other is a Mormon – both unacceptable.

    My conscience will not allow me to vote for Romney, he’s just what his cult represents.

  • Grace

    I watch very little Television, I find most of it boring, except for special news, events, featured film, and sports. Talking with others, that I know, they aren’t much different. Ads don’t make much difference, the world has changed dramatically, in the past 20 years. When I am watching TV, and the ads start, I head for the kitchen, check out my email, or anything, other than ads.

    In WORLD Magazine, dated August 25, 2012 in the “Mailbag” page 72, there is a letter from a man in Albuquerque, N.M.

    “We must cast a vote that could enhance the spread of Mormonism at home and abroad. Yes, if Obama is reelected, it will be detrimental for our nation. However, although I cherish America, it is merely a kingdom of man. We must instead place priority on the kingdom of God.”

    ⚊ Jim Lasche, Albuquerque, N.M.

    EXCELLENT letter!

    Carl @9, perfect passage of Scripture, thank you.

    Mormons banging on doors in this area are not welcome. They rarely show up anymore. And this being a conservative Republican area won’t change the fact that many will NOT vote for Romney or Obama, no matter what ads they have, or whatever they blither. One is a Socialist to the core, and the other is a Mormon – both unacceptable.

    My conscience will not allow me to vote for Romney, he’s just what his cult represents.

  • mikeb

    TV ads and boots on the ground are cold war politics–one side feels the need to match the other’s apparent superiority and threat. So each side continually stockpiles weapons (i.e. ads, messages, etc…) and invests in delivery systems (TV airtime, volunteers, etc…) because the other guy is doing it, too. This form of ‘mutually assured destruction’ seems to be having an impact: party identification is on the way down.

    But take this from an advertising pro: The only thing that really matters is message.

  • mikeb

    TV ads and boots on the ground are cold war politics–one side feels the need to match the other’s apparent superiority and threat. So each side continually stockpiles weapons (i.e. ads, messages, etc…) and invests in delivery systems (TV airtime, volunteers, etc…) because the other guy is doing it, too. This form of ‘mutually assured destruction’ seems to be having an impact: party identification is on the way down.

    But take this from an advertising pro: The only thing that really matters is message.

  • http://theoldadam.com/ Steve Martin

    Speaking of Mormon “missionaries”, check this out:

    Oh what a tangled web we weave…

  • http://theoldadam.com/ Steve Martin

    Speaking of Mormon “missionaries”, check this out:

    Oh what a tangled web we weave…

  • Tom Hering

    The Obama strategy is to win 80% of the minorities vote, while the Romney strategy is to win 61% of the white vote (National Journal). Hence, the different approaches. Boots on the ground have always been key to turning out minority voters. While TV ads may be the best way to reach white voters – without appearing to make a racial appeal. You simply fill your ads with a disproportionate number of white faces.

  • Tom Hering

    The Obama strategy is to win 80% of the minorities vote, while the Romney strategy is to win 61% of the white vote (National Journal). Hence, the different approaches. Boots on the ground have always been key to turning out minority voters. While TV ads may be the best way to reach white voters – without appearing to make a racial appeal. You simply fill your ads with a disproportionate number of white faces.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @10
    I think I was pretty clear that I don’t know how many people watch tv the way I do. I wouldn’t be surprised if I was a part of a very small minority of viewers.

    The fact somebody is willing to pay to advertise doesn’t mean the advertisement works, only that somebody sold the campaigns on the idea that they could work. So, no I don’t look to their expenses as proof the ads work.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @10
    I think I was pretty clear that I don’t know how many people watch tv the way I do. I wouldn’t be surprised if I was a part of a very small minority of viewers.

    The fact somebody is willing to pay to advertise doesn’t mean the advertisement works, only that somebody sold the campaigns on the idea that they could work. So, no I don’t look to their expenses as proof the ads work.

  • WebMonk

    One thing that I have witnessed myself and have seen several stories discuss, is the political advertising on YouTube, Hulu, etc. I suspect that the “TV” advertising strategy that the Romney campaign is running includes those sorts of advertising which aren’t showing on televisions, but are still a part of viewing videos, movies, and “television” shows.

  • WebMonk

    One thing that I have witnessed myself and have seen several stories discuss, is the political advertising on YouTube, Hulu, etc. I suspect that the “TV” advertising strategy that the Romney campaign is running includes those sorts of advertising which aren’t showing on televisions, but are still a part of viewing videos, movies, and “television” shows.

  • http://steadfastlutherans.org/ SAL

    #15 So is politics now just a proxy race war between non-white Democrats (with white limousine liberal assistance) and white Republicans (with token brown faces)?

    Oh joy. What a wonderful development for my kids.

    It seems to me we can continue down that path only so long before we have a Civil War like Lebanon’s. I wonder if Obama’s going to start trying to be less divisive and demagogic in his second term.

  • http://steadfastlutherans.org/ SAL

    #15 So is politics now just a proxy race war between non-white Democrats (with white limousine liberal assistance) and white Republicans (with token brown faces)?

    Oh joy. What a wonderful development for my kids.

    It seems to me we can continue down that path only so long before we have a Civil War like Lebanon’s. I wonder if Obama’s going to start trying to be less divisive and demagogic in his second term.

  • Tom Hering

    So is politics now just a proxy race war … What a wonderful development for my kids. (@ 18)

    I wouldn’t worry about it. This is the last time the Republicans can focus on winning a majority of the white vote. In future, they’ll have to focus on winning a majority among minority voters – just like the Democrats do – but for reasons of simple demographics.

  • Tom Hering

    So is politics now just a proxy race war … What a wonderful development for my kids. (@ 18)

    I wouldn’t worry about it. This is the last time the Republicans can focus on winning a majority of the white vote. In future, they’ll have to focus on winning a majority among minority voters – just like the Democrats do – but for reasons of simple demographics.

  • Grace

    After hearing Ann Romney what do you think?

  • Grace

    After hearing Ann Romney what do you think?

  • Stone the Crows

    Heard a stat yesterday that was interesting, 4% of Americans polled won’t vote for President Obama because of his race, 18% of Americans polled won’t vote for Romney because he’s LDS. I suspect that there are plenty of people who would normally vote Republican but cannot countenance a Mormon in the White house. That would make an emphasis on image politics make more sense. But as someone already posted, I also suspect that the Romney campaign already has plenty of boots on the ground.

  • Stone the Crows

    Heard a stat yesterday that was interesting, 4% of Americans polled won’t vote for President Obama because of his race, 18% of Americans polled won’t vote for Romney because he’s LDS. I suspect that there are plenty of people who would normally vote Republican but cannot countenance a Mormon in the White house. That would make an emphasis on image politics make more sense. But as someone already posted, I also suspect that the Romney campaign already has plenty of boots on the ground.

  • Tom Hering

    It’s quite possible there’s a get-out-the-vote effort going on. The Romney campaign may have learned something from the Walker recall. Yes, the Republicans in Wisconsin outspent the Democrats on TV ads. Greatly outspent them. But they also registered voters, and got them to the polls, in the rural areas of each county. No one noticed until it was over.

  • Tom Hering

    It’s quite possible there’s a get-out-the-vote effort going on. The Romney campaign may have learned something from the Walker recall. Yes, the Republicans in Wisconsin outspent the Democrats on TV ads. Greatly outspent them. But they also registered voters, and got them to the polls, in the rural areas of each county. No one noticed until it was over.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X