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Thursday, December 06, 2012

Courts - "Michigan Supreme Court Campaign Credits Facebook Ads With Margin of Victory"

Here is an interesting article by Cotton Delo in AdAgeMobile. It begins:

What tipped the scales in favor of a candidate for the Michigan Supreme Court in a closely run election? Her campaign team surmises that a heavy helping of Facebook ads during the home stretch of the race played an outsize role.

Democrat Bridget Mary McCormack was ultimately the top vote-getter in a field of seven candidates running for two full-term seats on the bench. Her roughly 1.53 million votes edged out the other winner, Republican incumbent Stephen Markman, by more than 30,000 votes. (The first and second runners-up had roughly 1.4 million votes apiece.)

Ms. McCormack's campaign manager, Jon Hoadley, finds her margin of victory all the more surprising because of the onslaught on negative TV ads paid for by a Washington, D.C.-based group called the Judicial Crisis Network that were aimed at Ms. McCormack, a University of Michigan law professor, during the final week of the campaign. ( The ad featured the mother of a deceased American soldier and homed in on Ms. McCormack's offer to represent Guantanamo detainees.)

While the Judicial Crisis Network was filling the airwaves in Detroit and Grand Rapids with $1 million worth of attack ads, Ms. McCormack's team was spending liberally on Facebook. Mr. Hoadley estimates that 51% of the campaign's $100,000 ad budget was allocated to Facebook, and 80% of that sum was spent in the final five days with the intent of burning the candidate's name into liberal voters' brains. (Ms. McCormack also benefited from TV ads run by the Michigan Democratic State Central Committee to support its slate, made up of her and two other candidates.)

"Repetition over a short period of time really did make a difference," said Mr. Hoadley.

Doubling down on Facebook for the final stretch was more of an accident than a strategy, according to Josh Koster, managing partner of the digital agency Chong & Koster, which handled the buy for Ms. McCormack's campaign. Due to time constraints, it wasn't feasible to execute a diversified strategy that included display and search ads, he said.

Instead, the campaign ultimately had a half-dozen Facebook ads in circulation in the five days leading up to Nov. 6 after a brief testing window to find which performed best for different age and gender groups. All had positive messages (noting that Ms. McCormack had been endorsed by 10 Michigan newspapers, for example) with the aim of boosting recognition of her name by Election Day.

While Mr. Koster notes that efforts on behalf of the Democratic slate helped bring Ms. McCormack to within striking distance, he thinks the Facebook ads must have been the ultimate needle-mover.

"[They're] the only thing that could have moved her to being ahead of everyone else from being tied with every else," he said.

Read this in conjunction with CNHI's Maureen Hayden's story, here in the Dec. 3rd New Albany News & Tribune. A quote:
INDIANAPOLIS — There’s a new phrase starting to emerge in the lexicon of the Indiana Statehouse: “Getting Ritzed.”

It refers to the stunning Nov. 6 victory of political newcomer Glenda Ritz over her giant of an opponent, Tony Bennett, in the race for Superintendent of Public Instruction.

More so, it refers to the kind of campaign that rocketed Ritz past Bennett to win 1.3 million Hoosier votes.

Employing a mastery of social media that tapped into widening skepticism about the K-12 education overhaul that Bennett championed, the Ritz campaign pulled off the seeming impossible: They beat the Republican incumbent in a Republican-loving state and did it with a fraction of the money, TV airtime, and powerful partisan pull that Bennett enjoyed. And, and often noted since, they managed to get more votes for Ritz than Gov.-elect Mike Pence.

Getting Ritzed is the 21st century version of the Biblical tale of David and Goliath. (David Galvin, the engineer of Ritz’s social media campaign, tapped into that analogy in a fascinating article he wrote for the Nov. 15 issue of Howey Politics Indiana.)

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 6, 2012 10:40 AM
Posted to Courts in general