You have 1 new Duffy-gram

Mike Duffy knows your name! Or at least the automated Duffy has a whole bank of names to read from in the Conservative Party’s latest innovative fundraising and voter ID widget that is scheduled to roll out later this evening.

The folks at Conservative Party HQ sent me a preview of their new product which includes the senator and former newsman outlining the Conservative record, while asking for your ranked issues, feedback, postal code and email address. The product also is customized to deliver localized content via geotargeting.

A senior Conservative explained that the the shiny new Duffy-gram is the brainchild of the party’s executive director Dan Hilton who has been moving the party to find new ways to push the envelope in the online space.

Also of note is a new slogan for the party which may yet brand a national campaign if we see one in the coming weeks. “Moving forward” suggests momentum, progress and an ongoing job. Contrast this with the Liberal Party slogan of “we can do better” which suggests failure of the incumbent, inclusion of Canadians and the Liberal Party “we” to solve a problem. Both slogans acknowledge a difficult situation and while the Conservative slogan is more punchy and complete, the Liberal slogan leaves a question open: “better than what?”. Further, the Liberal slogan opens them up to attack as a Conservative narrative is that Michael Ignatieff thought he could do better abroad rather than improve his career among Canadians looking to do the same.

Conservatives have led the Liberal party in databasing Canadians and their levels of partisan and issue-based support since at least the late days of the Alliance. The Liberals have had quite a time playing catch up as they’ve gone shopping for proven software, even approaching the Obama campaign in the Dion days. Yet, while Liberal national director Rocco Rossi is paddling up the Rideau Canal asking folks for money along the way, the Conservatives are showing that they continue to innovate.

Klees campaign responds to Hudak

I just got off the phone with a senior member of Frank Klees’ campaign regarding the letter from Tim Hudak’s co-chair Blair McCreadie. To say the least, Klees’ people are furious.

It was explained to me that two weeks ago, the Klees campaign conducted a voter ID poll and they argue that this was completely legal. All questions asked, they argue, were in the public domain. Questions were asked regarding the “faltering” Hudak campaign and second ballot support. It was argued that because the characterization of the campaign had been reported in mainstream media and on the blogs that this was a public perception poll and that questions were asked legitimately.

The main complaint from the Klees campaign is that the Hudak campaign strategically held their complaint until the day of the TVO debate, a forum where candidates could truly interact and go back and forth. Steve Paikin was the host of the debate. Klees’ campaign complains that the Hudak campaign made their complaint on this day in an attempt to de-legitimize their campaign. They suggest that the post-debate scrum of Klees regarding the “push poll” was evidence to this.

The Klees campaign characterizes the McCreadie letter as “arrogant”, “pious” a “smear” and “not true”. The Klees campaign argued that while McCreadie and the Hudak campaign initiated the complaint, McCreadie himself was 45 minutes late to the three hour meeting to decide the complaint, which he ultimately lost. Further, the Klees campaign accuses the Hudak campaign of salting the earth, “what is this, winning at all costs?” Further, it was explained that all candidates want party unity and that it is “arrogant” for the Hudak campaign to think that only they hold that card.


I imagine that this is not the final barrage; we’ll be here all day, folks. But let’s try to work on this “unity” thing sooner rather than later, k?

Republican story from ’72

Take a look at the following video from CBS’ evening news from 1972. There should be a few interesting elements for any viewer, no matter their political leanings.

First, we notice that the topic of election strategy has always been good fodder for news reporters. Often, the horse race and how it’s run can be more compelling than the policies or platforms forwarded by the candidates.

Of course, there is also the gem of a Dan Rather piece from 1972. Rather’s thesis on the Republicans this time? That they’ve set up a front operation for show. The purpose? To demonstrate that Nixon isn’t running too hard for re-election. Possible, I suppose. After all, news media was hardly as ubiquitous in those days and perhaps such deliberate steps were taken to fool Rather. But, thankfully, he’s not fooled.

Next, at the RNC, envelope cutters are opening cheques from a quarter of a million people for $2.5 million. The ‘grassroots’ ma ‘n pa cheques that come in is a strategy employed by today’s Conservative Party in Canada. The direct mail lists and personal greetings customized by computer based on issue is interesting and it’s fascinating to know the sophistication of the operation involving these tools back to 1972. Some American politicians still bank heavily on direct mail appeals. Once, when describing blogging to a senior republican, I told him it was like the next version of direct mail. Thankfully, he didn’t press me further on the comparison, but I felt that the generational analogy was cogent enough, if on some levels not at all.

Next, in the report we see, by today’s standards, laughable privacy concerns which may well have enraged people watching Rather back in ’72. A ‘computer’ stores the names of mail-order Idaho steak customers? Most definitely a frightful thought to more than a few back in the early 70s.

Robert Odell Jr. is interviewed and describes these methods as the way of the future for campaign finance, and while we can forgive him for not foreseeing the netroots appeals of Howard Dean and those that would follow in the use of blogs and social media in this first decade of the 21st century, Odell could be a certified futurist.

We then see an obligatory note to show that the broad ma ‘n pa appeal isn’t exactly perfect yet as ‘fat cats’ still pay hundreds of dollars for Nixon fundraising dinners.

And then those that went home early will be sorely disappointed as we see a chance interview between Dan Rather and a 21-year old Karl Rove who holds up a bumper sticker for the GOP reading Generation of Peace. At the time of the interview, Rove was charged with “embarrassing pundits” and to help the Republican Party appeal to youth. It’s interesting to see how small a family of political operatives can exist, even in countries like the US.

All in all, a fascinating story about the ‘future’ of political financing from direct mail, to personalized letters aimed at specific constituents based on targeted issues. One wonders how the current cutting-edge methods of voter identification, fundraising and media balancing will be viewed 35 years from now.