On Thursday, January 21, 2010, the US Supreme Court ruled to loosen restrictions on corporate campaign spending. Based on an estimate by Wells Fargo media analyst Marci Ryvicker (mediabuyerplanner.com), political spending on advertising should increase between $250 and $500 million.
Though this increase represents only 7% to 14% of total political ad spending predicted for 2010, the decision will change the balance of power in US politics. Corporations will undoubtedly gain an upper hand over traditional citizen and grass roots efforts.
Successful campaigns against “corporate”-financed opponents must make appeals to the masses, the millions of people who will certainly be impacted by any elections. The power of the people must be tapped to ensure a fair representation of the issues. Mobile apps are critical here. Based on the success of mobile charitable giving (see my last blog post), the appeals should have a strong mobile component if:
- People see the need as real and their input as having a tangible effect. Focus on issues that really matter to people where a small contribution can be seen as making a difference. To the extent people believe that message – it has to be true- they will help and will consider making a difference.
- Candiates or issues will have to paint themselves as “Cinderella” or “David vs. Goliath”. Make sure there is a call to action in the story. It must be overt enough to be understood, but not so strong as to be a turn-off. This is a difficult balance when asking for a hand-out.
- Clearly state how to make a mobile contribution. Make it easy and effortless. The quality of the mobile experience is important no matter what you’re trying to achieve.
Democratic candidates will probably win the first round of the “Mobile Giving Wars”. Corporate contributions tend to favor Republicans so Democrats will be seen as the underdog – something they can use to their advantage. In the 2004 and 2008 Presidential campaigns, Democratic candidates proved they are more capable than their Republican counterparts at raising enormous amounts of money though micro-contributions. Raising cash through mobile giving rather than the internet is a natural extension of behavior to tech-savvy millennials who tend to be Democrats.
But, while Democratic candidates do better than their Republican counterparts in micro-donations, the story of the parties themselves is reversed. The Republican party has outraised the Democratic Party in small contributions for decades thanks to the conservative movement.