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Saturday, July 17, 2004

Great News from Moveon

Email from moveon

Dear MoveOn member,

Usually we ask you to take an action, but today we'd like to take just a moment to reflect on where we've come together, and to take some measure of the impact of our efforts.

In just a little over a week, the Democratic convention will begin.  The Democratic nominee, John Kerry, will finally get a chance to be heard directly by the American people, and the fight for the future of America will begin in earnest.  We knew from the very start that the Bush administration and the right wing would pull out all the stops to discredit the Democratic nominee before he even appeared at the convention. They put everything they had into it, every dollar and every conceivable misleading ad, and they failed, surprising all the pundits and political operators. We now are facing a real contest -- a real chance for change.  And we should all take a moment to appreciate this victory.

With your incredible support, the efforts of the Voter Fund have been a big part of this victory. This is not a partisan victory. It is a victory for truth and accountability over distortion. We've leveled the playing field so that opponents of administration policy have a fair chance in this election. Starting last October, over 160,000 MoveOn members gave more than $10 MILLION (!) to the Voter Fund to develop and run ads in battleground states telling the truth about the Bush administration. We've reached millions of people with these messages and helped shift the opinions the hundreds of thousands, on George Bush, and on the key issues we face. Below I've attached a report, with some hard figures, that shows how important this continuous drumbeat has been. With ads on health care, the Iraq war and on American priorities -- some produced by MoveOn members themselves -- we've kept the voice of the opposition strong and clear.

What's most exciting about this victory is that it represents a sea change in how politics is done. Who would have guessed that small contributions would become more important than the big ones? Who would have guessed than an organization like the Voter Fund, driven by 2.4 million MoveOn members, would set the pace in addressing the key issues in this election?

Thank you for being a part of changing the way politics is done.


--Wes Boyd and the MoveOn Voter Fund team  July 17th, 2004

Results of Voter Fund Advertising Program July 15, 2004 Wes Boyd

In October of last year, we asked MoveOn members if they would support an aggressive advertising program, to "get the truth out about the Bush administration" in battleground states. The response was overwhelming. We raised more than $10 million in small contributions from more than 160,000 MoveOn members. Together with $6 million in challenge grants from large contributors, this gave us a budget of almost $17 million for advertising. We engaged an excellent media firm (Zimmerman and Markman) and a research firm (Greenberg Quinlan Rosner) and developed a program to focus on five core states -- Ohio, Florida, Missouri, Nevada, and West Virginia. To break out of the traditional mold, we also started an advertising contest, to bring in fresh ideas from MoveOn members themselves.

Our program is unusual in that we take issues that are very resonant with MoveOn members, and in fact may be issues highlighted by a MoveOn advocacy campaign, and test to see if those issues move people broadly across America. Again and again, this strategy turned up tremendously powerful messages. Our first ad of this kind, $87 Billion in Iraq, aired in December and was based on MoveOn's Iraq campaign. We were skeptics of political advertising, and wanted to be certain that we were spending this money well, so we developed an elaborate testing strategy -- far beyond what others do. Every ad was first tested in the real world in a test market, with a full run of the ad in that market, against results in a comparable control market. Most campaigns just do focus groups, which we've found unreliable. As an example of the power of these ads, here are the results of the $87B in Iraq ad:


Before Advertising and After Advertising

Democratic nominee 45% to 48%

George W. Bush 44% to 40%

The $87 Billion in Iraq ad was seen by almost 20,000,000 people, an average of 11 times each, in the five target states, over the two week period it ran. As a result, according to our polling, we saw a significant shift away from President Bush and his policies, especially his policy in Iraq. People clearly responded to this message and nearly a million people shifted their thinking about the President. They also changed their thinking about the war:


Before Advertising and After Advertising

Different direction 44% to 48%

Bush direction 40% to 38%

We followed this ad with two ads about the Bush administration's outrageous Medicare plans -- Rug and State of the Union -- which also really moved people in our testing. By that time, the BushIn30Seconds ad contest had yielded its winners and two of the finalists tested very well -- the winner, Child's Pay, and another finalist, Polygraph. Child's Pay focuses on the tremendous burden the Bush administration is placing on future generations through its irresponsible tax cuts. Polygraph highlights President Bush's misleading statements on Iraq. We placed these ads in the five core states in January and February. You can see all the ads placed by the Voter Fund in battleground states here.

With these results, we now understood the incredible power of media to get out resonant messages, and we were very worried as we saw that the Bush campaign and others were likely to launch a media blitz in March, once the Democratic nominee was known, with the intention of a preemptive political strike against the new nominee and the administration's opposition. We expanded our efforts to the entire seventeen battleground states at that key moment, and together with others, successfully blunted this unprecedented media blitz from the right-wing -- almost $60M in March and April from the Bush campaign alone. In those keys weeks, we played our contest winning ad, Child's Pay, and a new ad about the Bush administration's attempt to reduce overtime pay -- our Worker ad. The results: in June, national polling showed Senator Kerry actually leading Bush nationally by a couple points and leading by up to five points in the battleground states, an extraordinary result given the overwhelming resources the Bush campaign brought to bear.

Essentially, the Bush message didn't resonate. And ours did. And with your help, these messages got out in these key states.

Since March, we've focused on a combined program with the Media Fund, to continue to keep up the pressure in five core states. We've just received the latest tracking polls, which now fully document the impact of our program over the last eight months. Key findings from Stan Greenberg team's research include:

1. Our issue advertising has achieved deep and nearly universal penetration in these target states -- greater than the recall of anti-Kerry or pro-Kerry advertising -- despite the fact that there is more money behind other advertising.

2. In the target states, the presence of continuing opposition issue ads is producing less recall of the Bush campaign's anti-Kerry advertising. Raising real issues in our ads has the effect of neutralizing the Bush campaign attack ads.

3. We are making gains on key issues related to the advertising, particularly Iraq, corporate influence and health care. The ads produced significant changes, compared to the control states and nationally, on Iraq, Bush's corporate ties and health care and prescription drugs.

As part of the launch of each of these ads, we've typically run "earned media" campaigns with both national and local press. The PR campaigns amplify our online campaigns and have given Voter Fund and MoveOn members extraordinary national impact and exposure in the last eight months. We believe this national presence has been a key part of establishing a strong opposition voice against the Bush Administration. Of course, this new prominence comes with its costs. The right-wing apparatus now has us on their radar -- including Matt Drudge, Fox News, the Republican National Committee, and the Bush Campaign. They have launched a series of attacks to attempt to discredit and silence us. But they have failed.

One prong of this attack is the persistent attempt to characterize one of the 1500 entries in the BushIn30Seconds contest -- the now infamous "Hitler ad" -- as an ad somehow supported and aired by MoveOn. Of course, this is not true, and in fact the ad itself only appeared to the public at large on the RNC and Bush campaign web sites. While their consistent harping on this lie has gotten press, in the end it's backfired. Most recently, the Bush Campaign itself ran an ad with Kerry, Gore, Dean and Hitler, referencing the contest ad, and they came under heavy criticism. In another attack, right-wing partisans launched a campaign intended to shut down the Voter Fund itself through the Federal Election Commission and to chill contributions from big and small contributors. Again, they failed, and support for MoveOn and others opposing the administration has been very robust, especially from the new small contributors many organizations are reaching through the Internet. The bottom line is that the attacks have raised the profile of MoveOn and opposition to the Bush administration in general, and this prominence helps us every day in getting out our message.

We are continually grateful for the incredible support and trust extended to us by you and other MoveOn members. We're great optimists, because we're in touch with millions of people who are working to make a difference. We're also optimistic because the work is yielding strong results. America is hearing the truth about the Bush administration. Now it's time to drive it home. Soon we'll let you know what's next in our campaign to take back America. But for now, we just want to thank you for making these results possible.

- Bob Brigham
Bay to the Beltway
Online + Campaigns + Politics + Elections + San Francisco + Board of Supervisors + News + Blogs + Presidential + Battleground + Senate + Congress

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