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News Election campaigning tactic, strategy, manuever

  1. Oct 5, 2008 #1
    Lately I had been fascinated by the Obama election campaign. I am not talking about the fact that they had built up a sizable lead, but rather how they made it happened. The Obama campaign strategists are extremely good at setting the tone for the media and manipulate public perception, where they routinely target the uncommitted independents. These are the people who turned on their TV to get the latest news, and digest the information through expert opinion.

    Exhibit 1. Palin: Obama terrorist connection. (Oct 04 -)
    Obama team's response: McCain is erratic and has a new gimmick.

    If we analyze this response from the POV of someone who has not been up-to-date with the past news-cycle, the effects on these people are:

    1. The Obama team did not take the bait and jump right into disproving the smear. It is equally difficult to prove or disprove something that doesn't exist. By dismissing the news as another crazy trick from their opponent, the Obama team return the burden of proof back to McCain.

    2. The Obama team did not take the bait on Palin. Instead, they attributed McCain as the perpetrator and the aggressor. McCain is forced to come off the sideline to take a stand for his team. He will not able to walk away from this for free, the way Bush did in the Swift-boat fiasco.

    3. The message draws connection to the past gimmicks and gambits McCain attempted. If one is still unsure of McCain's previous intention, now they get another chance to examine his true motives. It also subtly raises the question on McCain's judgment and leadership.

    4. The active tone from the message forces a respond from the McCain campaign in the immediate future. Clock is now ticking on the other side.

    So in other word, it appears to me that the Obama team had once again found the best course of action and is now one step ahead in this battle. This post is getting too long so I'm going to save other exhibits later. This stuff is very fun to analyze from a bird's eye POV.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 5, 2008 #2
    Obama learned from the Kerry campaign of 04 that simply not addressing smears and lies doesn't work and people think you're hoping that if you ignore it, it will go away.

    The flip side of that is if you are constantly having to debunk and deny accusations by the other party, then you have little time for anything else and it looks like you're always denying everything, so you must be guilty of something.

    It's hard to find a good balance of that, but it seems that the Obama campaign found a sweet spot, ironically with the help of the McCain campaign and their constant blunders. If the McCain campaign didn't completely drop the ball every other week, Obama would have had a much harder time fending off attacks and still trying to promote himself.
  4. Oct 5, 2008 #3
    Yes that's why I'm fascinated by how the progress of this election. I can think of numerous incident where the Obama team tricked McCain having to pick between losing a knight or a bishop.

    The Couric interview is a blunder that defies anyone's wildest expectation. But I think you can still make a case that it is the by-product of a two weeks accumulative effort to force the McCain team to expose Palin to the media.

    Exhibit 2. How do you deal with a pitbull with lipstick? (sep 02-sep 15)
    Obama team's response: let her take care of herself.

    I'm not going to to comment on the overall effect of Palin pick just yet. Suffice to say, she made things interesting for three weeks for both campaign. What the McCain campaign had in mind was to make her saturated the air-wave. But the Obama campaign refused to cooperate and fall into the trap. They did not question her experience, draw attention to her on-going personal saga, and most importantly, make the connection between Palin and Obama. They remained silent and passive, in spite of the protest of numerous Democrat higher-ups who only know about poll numbers.

    As it turns out, this is another display of tactical brilliance. The Obama team is playing the waiting game with McCain. By not disputing, or even acknowledging claims like "Palin, best energy expert in the world", or "Palin, foreign expert, can see Russia", or the obvious sexist baiting game, the McCain campaign now shoulders the responsibility to make their claims stick. To do that, they have to go through the central battleground ground: the media.

    The media has also become increasingly impatient. People want to know more about Palin, but the media has no new material. The Obama team is ignoring her; the McCain team is sheltering her. They had nothing to work with and they are not happy. Unfortunately for McCain, they are the one seating with the product so it's only a matter of time before they blink. And so they did. The rest is history.

    I also like to point out that Biden had being an un-sung hero through out this period. He had 100+ interviews by the time Palin had 3. Interviewer who dealt with Palin is likely to have work with Biden already. Even though Biden isn't making big splashes, he set a the standard for a VP candidate for the interviewers.
  5. Oct 9, 2008 #4
    Gear switch: McCain campaign's doesn't-have-to-be-so mistakes.

    Sometimes, McCain strategists will perform stunts that have no upside what so ever. Publicly announcing a Michigan pullout is one recent example. Let's ignore the math behind the decision for one second and consider the subtle damage dealt to the campaign:

    1. It is a blow to the morale of all McCain supporters and workers. People in PA immediately start to wonder if they are next. Conversely, all Obama supporters chuck one in the victory column.

    2. Even more negative media coverage at a dire time.

    3. Palin publicly second-guessing the move on air.

    4. It draws immediate reaction from the Obama campaign.

    What is curious is that there is really no reason to make the move public. The McCain camp could had quietly abandon Michigan and focus attention else where. It is within their best interest to keep the Obama camp to tight up as much resource in the state as possible. Instead, the McCain camp once again draw the spotlight to focus on their trouble.

    Obama's reaction to the stunt: we will keep fighting for Michigan. Whether or not that's actually the case is not going to change the fact that they had lock up their supporters with a simple, measured response.
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