Monday, November 28, 2011

History of Campaign Advertising

1952 - Eisenhower/Stevenson

1960 - Nixon/Kennedy

1964 Johnson/Goldwater

1968 Nixon/Humphrey/Wallace

1972 Nixon/McGovern

1976 Carter/Ford

1980 Reagan/Carter

1984 Reagan/Mondale

1988 Bush/Dukakis

1992 Clinton/Bush

2000 Bush/Gore

2004 Bush/Kerry

2008 McCain/Obama

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Incredible Shrinking Sound Bite


The Incredible Shrinking Sound Bite

The 112th Congress convenes Wednesday so get ready to hear some political sound bites. The average sound bite is about nine seconds. Audio clips used to be much longer but they started shrinking in the 60s.

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As Congressman Darrell Issa prepared to take over a powerful House committee, he delivered a message on Fox News Sunday.
Set aside for a moment the substance of what you're about to hear the congressman saying and consider how long it takes him to say it.
(Soundbite of TV show, "Fox News Sunday")
Representative DARRELL ISSA (Republican, California): The sooner the administration figures out that the enemy is the bureaucracy and the wasteful spending, not the other party, the better off we'll be.
INSKEEP: That took a little under nine seconds, which means it's the average length of a soundbite in broadcast news stories.
MONTAGNE: It's been this way since at least 1992, when a University of California professor found that TV networks were broadcasting fewer politicians' words.
Mr. CRAIG FEHRMAN (Boston Globe): What he discovered was that the length of political soundbites shrank from 43 seconds in 1968 all the way down to nine seconds in 1988.
MONTAGNE: Craig Fehrman reviewed the history of the shrinking soundbite in the Boston Globe this week.
Mr. FEHRMAN: CBS decided that they were going to unveil a new policy for their coverage of the 1992 presidential campaign. That was going to be that no soundbite, no matter how pithy or profound it was, was going to run unless it lasted at least 30 seconds.
President BILL CLINTON: Al Gore is a leading expert in foreign policy, national security and arms control...
MONTAGNE: That's Bill Clinton speaking during that 1992 campaign. He had no trouble filling extra time. But many candidates had learned to keep their thoughts very, very short, as CBS soon realized.
Mr. FEHRMAN: What they quickly found was that they had to keep throwing out soundbites that simply weren't long enough. This actually led to less of the candidates talking on the air and more paraphrase from journalists. There were so many things that would have to change for 30 second soundbites to work that the experiment quickly failed.
INSKEEP: And today soundbites remain very short. Not long ago, the satirical newspaper The Onion mocked the 24-second news cycle. Politicians have adapted by choosing a few words that convey the strongest possible meanings in nine seconds or less.
Mr. FRANK LUNTZ (Republican Pollster): Instead of drilling for oil, exploring for energy. Instead of health care reform, the government takeover of health care.
INSKEEP: Republican pollster Frank Luntz advises politicians to use phrases that in effect try to win the argument without taking the time for argument.
Mr. LUNTZ: To be perfectly candid, I've made a very nice living out of creating soundbites, but as an academic, a professor and an author, I really wish that we had more time, more information, more discussion, and less soundbites.
MONTAGNE: There is one significant development in recent years: Online platforms like YouTube and Twitter allow politicians to reach the public directly. Of course tweets are limited to 140 characters - words that would take about nine seconds to say.
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Monday, October 17, 2011

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Presidential Convention Speeches

The tag clouds below illustrate the frequency with which certain words are used in presidential nomination acceptance speeches at party conventions. In some cases, similar words (such as "Americans" and "America" or "job" and "jobs") have been combined. Mouse over a year to see the tag cloud from that speech.

SOURCE: Historical speech transcripts from The American Presidency Project at the University of California-Santa Barbara; tag clouds generated at | GRAPHIC: Alyson Hurt and Paul Volpe,

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Christie Endorses Romney

The New York Times

October 11, 2011, 1:22 pm

Christie Endorses Romney Ahead of Debate

3:34 p.m. | Updated LEBANON, N.H. – Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey endorsed Mitt Romney’s bid for the Republican presidential nomination on Tuesday afternoon by praising his business and government experience, declaring: “Mitt Romney is the man we need to lead America.”

The endorsement by Mr. Christie, which came hours before the Republican candidates gather here for a debate, marked the latest effort by Mr. Romney to galvanize the Republican establishment behind his candidacy. Mr. Christie got an early start defending Mr. Romney, saying that any effort to compare the Massachusetts health care plan to the national plan signed by President Obama was “completely intellectually dishonest.”

In a joint appearance here, Mr. Romney called Mr. Christie “a real hero in Republican circles.”
As the two men took questions from reporters, Mr. Christie said that recent comments made about Mr. Romney’s Mormon faith by a pastor who supports Gov. Rick Perry of Texas were unacceptable and out of bounds for a presidential race.

Mr. Romney took the issue one step further and called on Mr. Perry to “repudiate the sentiments and remarks” of the pastor. He added, “I don’t believe that that kind of divisiveness based on religion has a place in this country.”

In announcing his decision not to run for president this year, Mr. Christie had shrugged off the question of an endorsement, saying that he would only endorse someone who he felt could beat President Obama.
“If I feel like there’s somebody in the field who gives us the best chance,” he said in answer to a question about whether he might endorse one of the Republicans in the field. “I’m not in a position today to make that determination.”

Having never run for office nationwide, Mr. Christie does not have a following to hand over to Mr. Romney in crucial early voting states. But his reputation as blunt truth-teller in New Jersey could help Mr. Romney with people who doubt his core beliefs.

And Mr. Christie’s endorsement could add to the rush of wealthy donors to Mr. Romney’s side after they waited nervously on the sidelines for the past several months. Many of Mr. Christie’s biggest backers for a possible run this year were executives who could raise big dollars for Mr. Romney.

Among those Mr. Romney brought on board were James B. Lee Jr., the vice chairman of JPMorgan Chase, who in 2008 raised more than $500,000 for Senator John McCain; Paul Singer, the hedge fund founder and conservative philanthropist; and John A. Catsimatidis, the supermarket magnate and New York businessman.
Privately, Romney aides said they truly weren’t sure if Mr. Christie was going to seek the Republican nomination — they speculated that even Mr. Christie himself wasn’t sure — and they worried about how Mr. Christie’s entrance would affect Mr. Romney’s ability to shore up support with Republican activists and donors.

Mr. Christie’s explicit backing could aid Mr. Romney’s efforts to lock down establishment Republican donors and build a sense of inevitability around his campaign, as donors recalibrate their plans with the expectation that no other significant candidates are likely to enter the race. It could also help Mr. Romney’s allies recruit new megadonors, like Mr. Singer, to Restore Our Future, the SuperPAC founded by a group of former Romney aides, which will be going head to head against a well-financed SuperPAC supporting Mr. Romney’s chief rival, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas.

“This is a very significant event for Christie to endorse Romney,” said Jim Nicholson, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, who announced last week that he would back Mr. Romney, “because of his conservative credentials and the following that he has had, the people who were still on the sidelines, who were waiting to see what Chris Christie would do.”

Mr. Nicholson added: “They are a pragmatic bunch. They want to put their money on the nose of the person they think has the best chance of the winning. With Christie now saddled up with Romney, that’s going to cause a lot of those people to commit to Romney.”

Still, Mr. Christie’s imprimateur may resonate most among the relatively small-group of deep-pocketed Northeast Republicans, many of them Wall Street figures, who were poised to seed the New Jersey governor’s finance efforts should Mr. Christie entered the race. Some of those names have already turned to Mr. Romney, who courted them in recent months and urged them to give him a look if Mr. Christie bowed out. Other Republican donors are likely to remain uncommitted for the time being.

In some ways, Mr. Christie and Mr. Romney are an odd match.

Mr. Christie’s style is to be bombastic and casual and at times bullying. He has gotten national attention by taking on the state’s teacher’s unions and by challenging his party’s orthodoxy on climate change, gun control and immigration.

Mr. Romney, by contrast, has spent most of his career as a sharply dressed and stylistically buttoned-down politician. His biggest political liabilities has been the perception that he does not have rock-solid beliefs on core issues.

But in other ways, the endorsement makes sense. As governors, both men have seen the practical challenges of trying to match ideology with governing.

And Mr. Christie’s other choices seemed like a bad fit. Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, is a Southern conservative with little in common with his New Jersey counterpart. Representative Michele Bachmann is a firebrand whose style of politics — as well as her position on the issues — is not in line with Mr. Christie’s.
Ray Sullivan, communications director for Mr. Perry, responded to news of the endorsement on Fox News: “Well that’s the way it works in this business sometimes; the Northeast Republicans are sticking together in this case. We’ve got a debate tonight that’s supposed to talk about the economy. I’ve got a governor, Governor Perry, who’s got the strongest jobs record in the country, six balanced budgets, cutting billions in spending. That’s really what the voters want to hear about, how to get this economy turned around.”
A Romney aide said that Mr. Christie and Mr. Romney had been talking on and off since the spring. Early on the two of them met at Drumthwacket, the New Jersey governor’s official residence, and have stayed in touch over the phone since then. This past Saturday, Mr. Romney and his wife, Ann, flew to New Jersey to spend some time with Mr. Christie and his wife, Mary Pat, at their home, and at that meeting Mr. Christie told Mr. Romney that he was going to endorse him.

Mr. Christie made clear during the last several months that he wanted to remain a force in helping to unseat Mr. Obama. Endorsing Mr. Romney will give him a national platform without having to run himself.

Monday, October 10, 2011


Last week, race reared its ugly head in the presidential campaign when it was disclosed that Rick Perry and his family had for years camped and hunted at a site known for its racially insensitive name. This week, religion moved to the forefront as a prominent supporter of Rick Perry's claimed that Mormon candidate Mitt Romney was not a "Christian." 

Romney dealt with this in 2007-2008 when he ran for president. So it's nothing new to fact it's nothing new to American politics. New York Governor Al Smith dealt with the issue of his Catholicism in 1928; so too did John F. Kennedy in 1960 and, to a lesser extent, John Kerry in 2004.

Compare these there a difference? Are there similarities?

John F. Kennedy in 1960:

Mitt Romney in 2007:

Why Tuesday's Iowa Caucus Explanation

How Does the Iowa Caucus Work?

How does the Iowa Caucus work?

by Emily Lofgren on March 28, 2011 · 

That’s a good question.

To political activists, rattling off the process of the Iowa Caucuses may seem like a piece of cake, but to most people in America, the process seems rather confusing. It actually is not anything more than people at the most grassroots level discussing their opinions and those in attendance making a decision of who to support. While some may come to the caucus to learn more about the candidates before making an informed decision, many go to the caucus to cast their vote for their predetermined favorite.

Whether you are a die-hard supporter or a newbie to the political process, your vote matters just as much as the next person’s. That is why it is crucial for candidates to connect well with the average Iowan if they want to perform well in the Iowa Caucus. I really like this aspect of the caucus process.

We saw in 2008 with Huckabee’s caucus victory that money does not buy votes in Iowa. Estimates say Romney spent approximately $12,000 per vote he received on caucus night, but he still came in 2nd place. Likability is the key to winning in Iowa.

The first step of the Iowa Caucuses is meeting with candidates. In this state, hopefuls will come to your area if they are serious about gaining your support.

The next step is actually attending a caucus on the specific date set by the state party.

For the purposes of the 2012 election, I will focus on the Republican process since the Democrats have President Obama as their incumbent for this season.

This season’s caucus is set for February 6, 2012.

Steps occur once at the caucus site (that location is determined by the precinct in which the voter lives):

1) Caucus-goers check in at the registration table. They will need to be registered with the Republican Party in order to caucus for that party. If not already registered, registration may be initiated or changed in order to vote for that particular party’s caucus. To do that, proof of residency and a photo-id must be presented. Caucus-goers may only caucus for one party.

2) Those in attendance at the caucus hear speeches from representatives of the candidates who attempt to persuade those caucusing to vote for their candidate. The speeches generally occur in a location where many precincts meet together for listening.

3) After speeches, caucus-goers are dispersed into their specific precinct location where each person who is registered as a Republican in that precinct is given a single blank piece of paper as a ballot, with which to write their vote for their presidential choice.

4) In addition to caucus voting, the precinct elects delegates, alternate delegates and junior delegates to represent the precinct at the county convention. Planks for the platform may also be submitted to the precinct chair to give to the platform committee for the county convention. The planks are statements regarding the beliefs of the political party.

As can be seen by the “every vote counts” nature of the Iowa Caucuses, this is definitely the most grassroots level of campaigning.  That is a major reason we created this site.  Iowa Caucuses 2012 is intended to be a citizen journalism site.  People can come here and see what other regular Iowans are saying about the candidates who have visited their area.  Let’s rely on the voices of the people, not just the media to give us a better picture of the candidates who so desperately desire our votes.  We can learn a lot about a candidate by the way they embrace the people of our great state.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Youth Voting in American Politics

1972 was the first presidential election when 18-20 year olds were eligible to vote. Since then, with but few exceptions (2008 the most notable), youth voter turnout has declined. For 18-24 year old citizens, turnout declined by 13 percentage points from 55% in 1972 to 42% in 2000. For 18-29 year old citizens, turnout declined by 12 percentage points from 58% in 1972 to 46% in 2000. Youth voting did increase in 2004 and 2008, but as a percentage of the overall electorate it remained relatively stable.

The following data was collected from CIRCLE -  The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement

 In 2004, 18-29 year-olds were 17% of the electorate, and in 2008, they were 18% of the electorate. While youth were not a significantly bigger portion in the electorate in those years, voter turnout did increase.