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Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Kerry Heads to Green Bay: 1.5% Gain in WI Expected

According to a recent study [400k pdf] by Harvard prof David King and Kerry/Gore campaign operative David Morehouse, local campaign stops are "very often a more effective way to move voters than blanketing an area with television advertisements." The study has attracted at least some press attention.

King & Morehouse examine polls before and after local stops in the 2000 presidential campaign, finding a boost of 1.5% in statewide polls and 17% in local media markets. For example, Gore went from being 7 points behind Bush in La Crosse, WI a few weeks before visiting to 7 points ahead a few weeks afterwards, a gain of 14 points. La Crosse is a small place, but there were still about 180,000 households in the media market. Gore won Wisconsin by less than 6,000 votes.

As the campaigns target 18 or so "purple" swing states, saturating them with TV ads, they'll eventually reach the the point of diminishing returns; old-fashioned whistle-stop campaigning may gaining in importance. According to a Pew foundation poll, local TV news is a more common source of political information than cable, newpapers, or network news (although the differences aren't huge). One big believer in this kind of "under the radar" campaign, according to the study, is Karl Rove.

A recent AP article gives a nice description of a Kerry tour of Ohio last month.
Media coverage in several Ohio stops along Kerry's "Jobs First Express" bus tour last week and the response from some voters were a politician's dream.

Television stations aired Kerry's speeches live. Radio stations previewed his appearances and dissected his economic proposals. The front pages of newspapers carried above-the-fold, four-column photos of Kerry and wrote thousands of words about his policies.

Kerry visits Green Bay this Thursday and Friday. According to King & Morehouse, local coverage often starts a week in advance. All the the Green Bay TV web sites I looked at on Wednesday were announcing Kerry's anticipated visit. Should you want all the details, here's a page of links to Wisconsin media. Here's my favorite story:
May 26 - Campaign workers handed out more than 800 free tickets to tomorrow's rally in Ashwaubenon for presidential candidate John Kerry.

George Twigg, Kerry's Wisconsin campaign director, says there has been a huge demand for tickets.

Kerry's two-day visit includes a public rally tomorrow night at ShopKo Hall in Ashwaubenon and an invitation-only meeting Friday morning with veterans at the National Railroad Museum, also in Ashwaubenon.

Retirees Bruce and Elaine Jensen drove from Algoma to the Green Bay campaign office to get tickets for tomorrow.

Bruce Jensen says he can't stand the thought of another four years of George Bush and Dick Cheney.


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