Having recently been idolised in the Tory media for heading the Conservatives and being the brains behind their victory in the 2015 UK General Election, Lynton has long since dropped his guard and decided to share his ideas and theories about campaigning to a much wider audience back in 2013. Here is a very interesting YouTube video titled “Lynton Crosby AO – Master Class: Political Campaigning”.
It’s worth watching. It reinforces the essential elements of campaigning: message, targeting and many other features of campaigning that have universal application on campaigning inside and outside of the politics.
In case you haven’t read this article (published in April, prior to the result of the 2015 election) about Lynton’s work it’s worth it just for the insights into the UK election campaign: Lynton Crosby: Master of the dark arts
Interesting excerpts include:
“the Australian who guided John Howard to four election victories and in the past half-decade has become the guru of British politics”
“Lynton Crosby is to his critics that gruff Australian forcing the Conservatives to adopt foreign — and tackily blunt — policies, a win-at-all-costs strategist who is a short-term blow-in. To his fans — including some of the country’s most senior Conservatives, from Cameron to Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and Lord Mayor of London Boris Johnson, touted as the next Tory leader — he is the election messiah who can keep the party on message and on track. Crosby and 10 of his staff, including his Australian business partner Mark Textor, are ensconced in the heart of Tory planning at Matthew Parker Street in Westminster, along with 200 party staff, in the lead-up to the May 7 British general election. Here Crosby arrives each morning before anybody else, often at 5am, already dressed in a well-cut suit for the day’s meetings and functions. But the accompanying open shirt and RM Williams boots that punctuate Crosby’s sartorial style only hint at the Australianness that oozes from his pores. He has no time for the very British hierarchical trait that sees functionaries defer and ponder, adjourn for meeting upon meeting and dissect minutiae.”
The article also describes the video above: “In a rare 2013 political masterclass Crosby gave to the Patchwork Foundation — a charity that encourages under-represented, deprived and minority communities to join British political society — he underscored how he formulated his messages and used emotions to make a connection with voters. He said: “Think about what is your message, and how do you make that relevant to people. At its simplest, who decides the election outcome, where are they, what matters to them and how do you reach them? You have to engage in ways that are relevant and connect with them emotionally.’’
Crosby told the masterclass it was critical to define yourself but also your opponent. ‘’Know what you want to say about your opponent and have evidence to back it up,’’ he said. Candidates should carry the positive messages, while the negative ones, underscoring an opponent’s weakness, should be conveyed by the campaign itself, in literature or delivered by surrogates. Crosby’s opponents have attacked him whenever a negative Tory line is highlighted, but he insisted — to the students at least — that the tone of any message was critical and it should be more positive than negative. It should never be hysterical or personal, he said.
The article is written by the magazine’s editor Sean J Miller and listed predictions include the following:
Digital will continue to grow, but television will always be king. Online targeting and turnout apps will become more and more important and will determine a huge number of off-year elections.
Traditional polling will become increasingly difficult and the number of inaccurate polls will continue to increase.
Digital isn’t going to replace TV. The two mediums are going to continue merging into one in 2015, at least as far as advocacy is concerned.
Digital budgets will grow a little because that is the flavour of the month. Broadcast TV, well done and not cookie-cutter-obvious, will continue to be King.
Low turnout means campaigns will devote more resources to targeting and developing models to increase cost-effectiveness. Even in a presidential cycle, we’ll see expanded use of tactics such as cookie targeting to deliver ads online directly to a persuadable universe of individual voters.
Digital budgets continue to grow and digital consultants playing a larger role in crafting overall message strategy. Campaigns are already starting to see the need for collaboration early and often between traditional comms, advertising and digital. The result will be more targeted, strategic and authentic messaging across all mediums, allowing candidates to better gain the trust of and connect with individual voters.
Groups of voters are going to push back against politicians having so much data on them – it will probably begin as a partisan fight of progressive activists against a demonized Republican. There will be a growing demand for more measurable persuasive results from online advertising. TV ads may be become more affordable or prices may remain static in many secondary markets due to economic factors and increase in use of digital. 2015 will be the last cycle major campaigns will worry much about news media relations with print. The way major news organizations cover politics makes them almost irrelevant to 95 percent of campaigns.
Increased competition and programmatic buying will lead to a shakeout of digital consultants in 2015: they’ll have to decide if they’re going to be vendors or true media consultants/campaign strategists. It’s easier than ever to set up an Adwords or Facebook advertising account or buy voter targeted ads. Will the digital folks simply be resellers of desirable ad space or be part of the team that figures out what to say and where best to say it to win?
Web-based crowdfunding will play a bigger role in 2015. We’ll see potential candidates launch Kickstarter-style fundraising drives to determine whether or not to run for office, and after the fundraising success of MayDay PAC I expect to see more crowdfunded Super PAC’s as well. Crowdfunding will tap into new donors but it’s also a way for our current grassroots donors to become more engaged in the political process.
I’ve been a bit busy with work (new job) and family over the past two months but will try and post more regularly in a couple of weeks after work starts winding down for the Christmas break. In the meantime here are a few interesting posts (listed below, with highlights) about last weekend’s incredible result in Victoria where a first-term government was ousted in a state election – a very unusual occurrence in Australian politics.
It has been particularly important for progressive campaigners in Australia’s largest three states, who have all recently suffered defeat at the state and federal level. There are now three Labor states/territories in Australia (Victoria, South Australia and the ACT) and renewed hope for Labor in the next federal election due in 2016. There are also important state elections due in Queensland and NSW over coming months and hope this momentum will produce better results in each of those states. The conservative majorities in both NSW and Queensland are very large and there are few signs at this stage that the swings expected in each of those states will be large enough to unseat those governments. However, lessons can be learnt from the Victorian result which can help Labor win back many marginal seats in each of those states.
One newspaper story I would recommend reading is by former Victorian ALP Secretary Nick Reece in this morning’s AGE newspaper. The article is available online here, and here are some interesting excerpts:
“The Napthine government thought the union movement would deliver it victory courtesy of an anti-union scare campaign. Instead, the unions were decisive in the Coalition’s defeat.”
The blow-back from the Liberal’s ineffective anti-union campaign was heart-warming for many progressives across Australia. At the same time that the Labor team was using “putting people first” as its slogan, the conservative Victorian Liberals seemed determined to repeatedly slander the unions and their volunteers. The Liberals refused to concede that the teachers, nurses, ambulance workers, firefighters and other workers campaigning against them actually had more in common with average Victorians than they did. The Liberal anti-union slander was confirming how out-of-touch the Liberals actually were.
Yesterday’s Guardian also had an article by Gay Alcorn with some very interesting quotes from Victorian Labor’s Assistant State Secretary Kosmos Samaras.
One of my favourite quotes from this article is “The slogan Putting People First came from the ground, that was something that was coming up, they wanted politicians to put people first. The term that continually was coming back to us.”
Kosmos also stated :“The Liberal party is not in the game. They don’t know how to run a field campaign. They lost because they refused to talk to people.”
I’ll return with more links and commentary in coming days. 😉
Victorians have voted to put people first. Thank you.
OK… later on Monday… I have to admit this article by Rick Wallace in the Australian (which I may buy today for the first time in an eternity 🙂 is my favourite so far…
THE secret weapon in Daniel Andrews’s campaign was made in the USA — in the Obama campaigns of 2008 and 2012 — and transplanted to the sprawling suburbs of Melbourne to snatch an improbable victory from a first-term government.
Revealed to The Australian through unprecedented access in the final week of the campaign, the secret weapon was rolled out in 25 marginal seats to unleash a phone call and doorknocking blitz.
Yesterday, Labor’s Community Action Network was credited with underpinning Andrews’s win and snatching a clutch of seats from the conservatives.
Along with a revamped advertising strategy, the so-called field program allowed Labor to outmanoeuvre the Coalition with a much smaller budget. It helped reinvent the way Labor campaigns.
The bad news for the Coalition is that the network is expected to become a permanent feature of ALP campaigns in Victoria and is likely to be deployed in NSW and Queensland next year.”
“Two weeks from the election, ALP assistant secretary Stephen Donnelly took The Australian behind the scenes to visit campaign operations in the battleground seats of Eltham and Monbulk.
En route to Eltham just days from the poll, Donnelly says that throughout this year, working largely in the shadows, the Victorian ALP built a network of more than 5500 volunteers and 250 volunteer leaders using a system honed by Barack Obama’s Democratic Party machine.
He says the party road-tested the system in last year’s federal campaign — without the support of then leader Kevin Rudd — and it helped sandbag the seats of Isaacs, Chisholm and McEwen amid Labor’s heavy defeat.
“Daniel Andrews saw it operate in the federal campaign for Isaacs and said, ‘Yeah I want it for next year. Let’s do this’,” Donnelly says.
Andrews was partly motivated by money, with Labor facing a cashed-up incumbent while its donations had largely dried up.”
“The fulcrum of the campaign was the 35 paid field staff. They were hired for their skills and experience running events or call centres or in similar roles, rather than for factional allegiance or party loyalty.
Each was assigned to recruit at least 150 volunteers and select leaders from among them to run the operations.
Donnelly says he didn’t care if they were party members or not (45 per cent aren’t) and all that was needed was to share ALP “values” and have a commitment to unseating the government.”
this is the funniest part I think: “With a budget half the size of the Coalition’s, Labor’s ads had only three main messages and were tightly targeted in programs swinging voters watch. Direct mail, a fixture of past campaigning, was restricted to undecided voters discovered through the field program, and mail was tailored directly to the issues they cited.
“The Liberal Party is running ads really heavily in the news, but we know from our research that our undecided voters don’t watch TV news. They watch Big Brother ,’’ Samaras says.
The other tactical error by the conservatives, Samaras says, is the focus on linking Andrews to the militant Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union.
“Most people in the focus groups say, ‘What’s the CFMEU?’, or that it doesn’t have any relevance to their lives,” he says.
That Samaras and Donnelly have been briefing The Australian several days out from the poll speaks volumes about the ALP’s confidence in its new campaigning — and they are proven right.”
Not sure if I want to start watching Big Brother though 🙂
I will come back to this post over the next few weeks. Might be worth also saying a few words about how Australian parties have evolved their campaigning techniques over the past century and also about old as well as recent American influences such as Marshall Ganz, OFA and Saul Alinsky.
Tanya Plibersek is the Deputy Leader of the Australian Labor Party and also the Federal Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs. She’s also a great role model for aspiring political activists across Australia as well as in her home state of New South Wales. Her statement below about feminism was published in Australian newspapers on Thursday 13 November and I’m adding it here as a reference for future comments on this issue, and also to show my daughters as they each grow up and are old enough to read it and understand it.
Tanya Plibersek: Why I’m a feminist
I am a feminist. Not because I’m a whinger, or a victim, but because I understand how very fortunate I am. And I’m grateful to the women (and men) who’ve made that possible.
If a footballer runs onto the field to a barrage of racist abuse, should he ignore it? Or should he call it out as unacceptable? What is the braver thing to do?
Ignoring racism or sexism doesn’t make it go away.
I am a feminist because I am grateful to be able to combine motherhood with a career that is intellectually and emotionally rewarding.
I am a feminist because I understand that the 18 per cent gender pay gap is not there because women are less competent at work than men.
I am a feminist because I know that the number of older women retiring with less superannuation than men is not because they are worse savers.
I am a feminist because I know it’s unacceptable that one in every five Australian women will experience sexual assault and one in every three Australian women will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes.
I am a feminist because I want my daughter to be safe walking home; because I want her to feel any profession is open to her, and that she is valuable for her intellect, her kindness, her sense of humour – not her looks.
I am a feminist because I want my sons to know the deep rewards of an equal relationship with their life partner, the satisfaction of being a hands-on father, and the limitless opportunity of rejecting unhealthy stereotypes.
I am a feminist because I recognise that it is the struggle of previous generations that have given me the opportunities I have. Bella Guerin, who back in 1883 became the first woman to graduate from an Australian university; Edna Ryan who fought for equal pay for men and women; Vida Goldstein who fought for women to be allowed to vote and stand for Parliament; and Jeannette McHugh, the first Labor woman to be elected to the House of Representatives from NSW.
I am a feminist because I know that having so much joy and satisfaction and home and at work, it would be completely unacceptable to say to other women, the young women I meet, so full of potential, “you’re on your own”.
If you don’t see the structural problems in society, you can’t fix them.
Haven’t had much time for blogging lately due to a new job but have given it a lot of thought with so much material to read and absorb. Will hopefully find more time over coming weeks for posts on the recent election in New Zealand, US mid-terms, by elections in NSW as well as current contests in Victoria and the ongoing saga of a federal budget whose passage seems to be the political equivalent of the 80s classic ‘Never-ending Story”.
Today I feel compelled to put some thoughts on paper (or keyboard?) following two recent culturally significant events that had some personal meaning: Remembrance Day and the funeral of Gough Whitlam.
I’ve previously mentioned the importance of cultural context in campaigning techniques. Last night I noticed our PM was copping a bit of flak on twitter (nothing unusual there) regarding his recent threat to “shirtfront” Vladimir Putin as well as his recent commitment to send Australian troops back into the Iraq. Yes, that same quagmire created by Bush/Blair/Howard when they invaded and destroyed a largely functioning nation in 2003. I recalled Mr Abbott was also recently found guilty by the Insiders panel of conflating crimes in Western Sydney and the threat of Terrorism from “ISIS’, or “Daesh” as they are called by their local enemies. So following the twitter ruckus I was keen to see what recent statements he may or may not have made that were embarrassing to him or the nation. Disappointingly there didn’t seem to be any recent zingers or clangers. In fact the video statement he released for Remembrance Day was well-written and relatively-speaking, well-delivered.
There’s a good write up including some of the more memorable tweets here.
It’s also a shame the Remembrance Day statement seemed to be overshadowed by his recent decision to cut wage increases for the Australian armed forces. Tasmanian PUP Senator Jacqui Lambie even botched together a meme of sorts (presumably using powerpoint?). Despite the poor layout, it conveyed an effective message about the PM’s attitude to the wages and conditions of the service men and women that were often tasked to join him in Putin-like photo opportunities.
There were also no shortage of anti-Abbott memes quick to take the opportunities presented by numerous public photos of the often media-shy PM. Just google (images) Abbott+Putin+meme for big laughs, especially if you’re a Trekky.
“By 1915 we had no need to re-affirm our European heritage at the price of being dragged to a European holocaust. We had escaped that mire, both sociologically and geographically. But out of loyalty to imperial Britain, we returned to Europe’s killing fields to decide the status of Germany, a question which should earlier have been settled by foresight and statecraft.’ and
“One thing is certain: young Australians, like the young Europeans I mentioned earlier, can no longer be dragooned en masse into military enterprises of the former imperial variety on the whim of so-called statesmen. They are fortunately too wise to the world to be cannon fodder of the kind their young forebears became: young innocents who had little or no choice. Commemorating these events should make us even more wary of grand ambitions and grand alliances of the kind that fractured Europe and darkened the twentieth century. In the long shadow of these upheavals, we gather to ponder their meaning and to commemorate the values that shone in their wake: courage under pressure, ingenuity in adversity, bonds of mateship and above all, loyalty to Australia.”
Keating’s 2013 speech was similar to his 1993 speech as PM, the audio of which is available here.
Another favourite worth dissecting is Barack Obama’s famous speech at the 2004 American Democratic National Convention when he retold, eloquently, the story of his personal journey (which is described in much greater detail in his best-selling books).
Ron Faucheux is the author or editor of several popular American books on political campaigning including Running for Office: The Strategies, Techniques and Messages Modern Political Candidates Need to Win Elections and Winning Elections: Political Campaign Management, Strategy & Tactics. He also ran the popular Campaigns and Elections magazine for several years. He’s a former candidate, elected representative, Chief of Staff and experienced campaign manager and trainer. Dr. Faucheux teaches courses in Campaign Management, Running for Office, and the History of Presidential Elections at the George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management, and at the Georgetown University Public Policy Institute.
He’s a regular writer and contributor to media discussion about campaigning and campaign management. One website that he contributes to (and is worth subscribing to ) is Winning Campaigns.
An example of his sound, experienced advice includes: “In modern campaigns, everybody wants to run smart, sophisticated, creative, cutting edge campaigns that utilize the latest techniques and tools. But in trying to do so, don’t forget the basics: Develop a clear, simple strategy and stick to it. Develop a strong message and use it. Go directly to the people and ask everyone for their help. Let the voters get to know you and stand for something that matters. Bring new people into the political process. The basics separate winners from losers, mediocre campaigns from great campaigns.”
Below is an summary from a great article he wrote for Winning Campaigns which lists some great advice for new and inexperienced candidates. Actually come to think of it, this list is a great refresher for old and tired candidates and campaign directors as well! 🙂
1. Don’t let the tough days get you down.
2. Always keep your cool.
3. The goal of being a candidate is winning the election.
4. No matter how hard you try, you won’t get every vote that’s cast and you won’t get everybody to like you.
5. If you want a political career, never let defeat stop you.
6. Ask every voter for help.
7. When someone tells you they’re voting for your opponent, don’t get angry.
You can follow Winning Campaigns on Facebook as well.
The picture below has nothing to do with Winning Campaigns or Ron Faucheux. It’s just one of the funny images from the recently released movie ‘The Campaign’ which is worth watching if you’re an old cynic like me 🙂
For perspective on the difference between Democratic and Republican midterm strategy, you really have to read Derek Willis’s NYT Upshot post “Democrats Are Spending More on the Ground in Key Senate Races.” The centerpiece in his post, quite a jaw-dropper really, is a chart, “A Democratic Edge in Key Senate Races,” which graphically depicts how much of the midterm outcome is riding on Dem’s GOTV spending.
In Alaska, for example, Dems are spending $1.9 million for “local staffers; get-out-the-vote efforts and other field operations.” to re-elect Mark Begich, vs. less than $225K for the Repubican candidate. In Colorado the difference is even greater, with Dems spending $4.4 million on staff and voter contact operations, compared the the Republicans’ spending a paltry $556K for their candidate. In North Carolina Democrats are spending $3.2 million on ground game efforts to re-elect Sen. Kay Hagan, compared to less than $836K for her GOP opponent. In Iowa it’s $1.3 mill for Democrat Rep. Bruce Braley against $105K for his adversary.
Willis adds that outside groups, such as super PACs, environmental and reproductive rights groups “working on behalf of Democratic candidates have extended the advantage.” Republicans, lacking the ground troops, have for the most part opted for investments in more traditional methods, such as media and postal ads.
Much depends on how good Democratic high-tech voter targeting efforts like the Bannock Street Project really are, vs. the GOP’s ad saturation strategy. But Dems are not withdrawing from the ad wars in any sense, explains Willis:
In Alaska, Colorado, Iowa and North Carolina, the number of network television spots is split roughly evenly between the two sides, according to data compiled by Echelon Insights, a Republican digital consulting firm…Spending on field operations is still a fraction of the amount that goes to television and other forms of advertising, and campaigns are reluctant to take money away from trying to reach mass audiences, even if it’s unclear in many cases how many persuadable voters broadcast advertisements reach.
Democrats clearly recognize that they have to remain competitive in fronting strong television ads, matching the Republican investment. But they also believe they can target swing voters better than can the Republicans, and they can put more trained canvassers on their front porches– and with a better message.
It’s a big gamble. But credit Democrats with the realization that getting different midterm results requires a different GOTV strategy. So far, dozens of better-than-expected snapshot polls suggest they may be right.
I was looking at some recent campaign gaffes in elections around the world and it reminded me of a recent article on Australian examples by Peter Chen from Sydney University.
I first met Peter Chen briefly in 2008 at a post-2007-federal-election workshop at ANU where he entertained a room of political science academics and practitioners with YouTube clips from the 2007 election campaign. Last year he wrote an interesting piece for The Drum about campaign gaffes http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-08-19/chen-campaign-gaffes/4895246
If you don’t have time to read the 2012 thesis you might prefer this shorter article from 2012 “Social Media, Youth Participation and Australian Elections” http://www.aec.gov.au/About_AEC/research/caber/files/1b.pdf … in a nutshell: ” Social media used for political purposes is likely though, in the first instance, to attract those with pre-existing strong political interests. However, the generalisation of social media use, and its focus on sociality and community building, has the potential to change the way trusted political information is distributed and engagement occurs.”
Dr Chen’s thesis reveals he “is a lecturer in media and politics at the University of Sydney. He holds a PhD from The Australian National University. His research focuses on the relationship between media and political processes, with a particular interest in new forms of communication. He also teaches and researches in the areas of public policy, Australian politics and social movements. Peter is the author of numerous articles and chapters on the role of digital media in Australian political life, and the author of Electronic Engagement: A Guide for Public Managers (ANU E Press, 2007) and the co-author of Electronic Democracy? The Impact of New Communications Technologies on Australian Democracy (Democratic Audit of Australia, 2006). He is a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Information Technology & Politics and the International Journal of Electronic Governance.
I can’t seem to find him on Twitter though, which is a bit disappointing.
In the Drum article Dr Chen refers primarily to Mr Abbott’s “suppository of all wisdom” gaffe and concludes “there is some truth in the repression view of gaffes. Where there are cognitive associations between concepts, verbal misstatements may reflect them in unguarded moments. The important question is to be able to delineate between simple error and significant and telling Freudian slip. In the latter case this would be most observable where these errors are repeated over time, eliminating the “momentary distraction” and “linguistic similarity” explanations. Tony Abbott may not have a deeply suppressed anal fixation, but his tendency towards repeated gender stereotypes (ironing and women, sex appeal as an important characteristic for women in public life, talking about Indigenous women simply as passive victims) does provide us with a sense that, in this policy area, there’s something to the slip of the tongue.”