Monday, September 5, 2016

What the Media Doesn't get About Campaigning

Could fill a book. This is why it doesn't mean very much when they declare 'Hillary is a bad candidate and no one likes her.'

Last year they were gloating that there was no enthusiasm for her compared to Bernie. Right, because the best gauge for electoral success is crowd size. After all, George McGovern and Walter Mondale both had huge crowds-bigger than anything Bernie or Trump have seen-and we know how well that worked out: both Democrats lost 49-1.

But what if they hadn't had those big crowds! Maybe they wouldn't have won 1 state?

Regarding the 'Hillary is a bad candidate' meme, Ezra Klein wrote a pretty good debunking of that.

Honestly, though, the media wouldn't know a good candidate or campaign if it bit them on their faux outraged faces. Klein does a good job of showing that while there are three aspects of being an effective politician, the media only factors in one.

Again, Klein lists three:

1. Communication. In other words a politicians ability to give speeches.

2. Listening.

3. Coalition building.

The media tends to focus almost exclusively on 1-speechifying. The media has long since decided that Hillary is not a good speaker or at least not a great one, though I disagree.

But the other vital skills, 2 and 3, aren't even on the media's radar. Listening, as Klein points out, tends to be a skill more associated with women and for that reason valued less. But think about it: if you have a lot you want to say you need someone who wants to hear it.

So this skill of Hillary's tends to be totally underestimated. Klein himself admits he always thought her 'listening tours' where just excuses not to talk. He's only now begun to change his mind after speaking to so many who know her well.

Then coalition building is not something the media is plugged into much at all either. Again, being a good politician in the post McGovern reform era is judged almost entirely by the ability to give a great speech.

But you see the problem with not having 3 clearly when you look at the fate of the Bernie Revolution once he lost his own campaign for President. It's gone nowhere. Of course. Bernie has never been a coalition builder. He's all about himself and his own brilliance.

As for campaigning, you see a lot of catty pieces right now about how Hillary is 'Rarely seen, rarely heard.'

Hillary Clinton, rarely seen, rarely heard

The Democrat lets reporters trail her but tucks them away to keep them out of sight and herself out of reach.

Read more:

Amy Chozick had a catty piece.

"If 2015 was about small events with "Everyday Americans," this summer Hillary almost exclusively heard from the 1%."

A lot of this comes down to this: Hillary doesn't need the national media the way candidates used to need them.

Sasha Issenberg who studies the science of campaigns argues that Hillary is running the most digital campaign in Presidential history.

The national media has this sense of entitlement where speaking to them at a presser equals transparency.

But the national media have never been anything but middleman between a candidate and the voters.

But if a candidate finds new ways to reach the voters that cuts out the middleman, is that really a crisis of democracy? No.

Yglesias has pointed out that we know exactly what her position on issues are while we have no clue what Trump's are. We saw this again yesterday where Trump's surrogates can't give a straight answer on his immigration position.

As for where this campaign, it's exactly where Hillary needs it to be. August was a very important month for her.

Hillary Clinton’s diligent month of quietly touring swing states has paid off."

I think this part tends to get short thrift: quietly. The media doesn't like quietly as where is the headline? But Isssenberg in his very interesting book talks about the science of 'Winning a campaign without anybody noticing.'

If her campaigning doesn't look like much to the media, that's a feature not a bug. It's not suppposed to. It's a stealth operation. Of course, Donald Trump running an old fashioned analog campaign doesn't know that.

Even as Donald Trump has spent the past month embracing constant turmoil in the name of making "himself the center of national media attention even if it meant settling for negative attention, his opponent has taken an entirely different tack. Hilary Clinton, apparently sensing that Trump was intent on harming himself for attention and that the media was at least partly willing to knock him for it, decided to let him have that spotlight – even as she put her head down and spent the month quietly plugging away with events in swing states. The numbers say it’s paid off."

With Trump shooting himself in the foot, there was no reason for Hillary to step in and state the fact that he is shooting himself in the foot.

"If Clinton had continued pushing her way onto cable news over the past month, and if she had sent her surrogates to make similar television appearances, it would have been them swinging away at Trump. But instead, by pulling back from that arena, it put the TV talking heads in the position of having to be the ones to take the shots at Trump – and that’s a more powerful message. So instead she pulled back from the cable news arena, and has instead been holding one rally after another in the states that are on the line in this election."

"The results: Hillary Clinton is now winning in Ohio by four points, winning in Pennsylvania by seven points, winning in Virginia by six points, winning in Michigan by eight points, winning in New Hampshire by nine points, and also winning in North Carolina and Florida, according to the current polling averages fromRealClearPolitics. In fact she’s now leading in every state which is traditionally considered to be a swing state. If the current numbers hold, she’ll win in an electoral college blowout."

"Meanwhile Donald Trump is running in a different race altogether, the one in which he competes to see who can get the most cable news airtime, whether that attention be helpful or harmful to his cause. He’s winning the airtime battle – but it’s becoming increasingly clear that it’s not helping his election chances in any way shape or form."

So this is the method in her alleged madness. The media doesn't see the method, but then they aren't supposed to.

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