Wow. That’s some seriously powerful stuff and more than a little risky for a few reasons.
First why I like it:
(1) It attacks other Democrats on their policies, not on personal issues. I do not want Democrats to attack other Democrats. But if you must, at least attack the policy — not the person. Richardson succeeds on this front.
(2) It incorporates bloggers. It is, after all, an online ad. One, I might say, that could never make it on to television as it is too long and too in depth. So, for an online ad to have quotes from three of the so-called “elite bloggers,” is a pretty big plus. I didn’t know who Bowers and Stoller supported before the ad, but they are known quantities to me and I trust their judgment on many issues. For them to agree to be in an ad for Richardson means a lot to me personally because I had finally written him off. Now I’m not so sure — and that’s the point of this ad. It brings people like me back to the table because it’s hard hitting and it’s using folks I know to make his case. Also, it leaves a viewer with the impression that these people have endorsed him, although…does anybody know if that’s actually the case? I didn’t beforehand, and don’t think they have.
(3) It’s a popular position worth fighting for. According to one CBS poll, 57% disapprove of the way Democrats are handling the war in Iraq. It’s time for Democrats to change course on how we get our troops out. But here’s the cool part: 49% say that they want large numbers of troops out in less than a year. 23% say in 1-2 years. 12% 2-5 yrs, and only 5% say longer than 5 years. I’ll repeat that. Half of Americans want to get large numbers of troops out ASAP. By the time Richardson would be inaugurated, over 70% would want the withdrawal to be well under way. At this rate, tolerance for residual forces will have waned significantly by the general election.
(4) It indicates that Richardson listens to what is most important to Democratic and American voters. This is a punchy ad with real substance on the one overwhelmingly important issue in this race. Good call.
(5) It does a lot, and even though I don’t remember the specifics, I am able to clearly come away with three main points of the ad:
a) vote for Richardson
b) no residual forces
c) all the other candidates are the same on this issue, Richardson only one to support no residual forces
That’s a lot to take home.
(6) It shows Richardson speaking in a strong, clear voice. Usually, I don’t think of him as a terribly great speaker. In other words, it’s edited extremely well.
(7) Mentions his experience, but puts it in context of the campaign.
(8) It is definitely risky to associate himself with folks working on the Bush Dog campaign. I happen to love the idea of the Bush Dog campaign, but I imagine he might not be making friends by doing so.
I actually debated whether to put this in the ‘thinks I liked’ or ‘things that, if I were a consultant, would say are risky’ category. It definitely goes in both…and that in and of itself made it a positive for me. I like to see my leaders take some risks, especially when I happen to agree with said risks….
Speaking of which…
Here’s my “things I didn’t like/ If I were a Democratic political consultant, I’d be very wary” list:
(1) I’m a partisan, so I don’t like Democrats who attack other Democrats. I do like that this is an ad specifically for a particular policy proposal (no residual forces) and for Richardson. But in addition to being for Richardson and for his policy distinction, he lumps all the other candidates (save Kucinich and Gravel) attacks each and every one of their policy proposals.
(2) Doing too much. Yeah, this is a YouTube ad that’s longer than any normal ad, but it’s trying to do too much. It’s an ad for Richardson, for a particular policy proposal, and against Clinton, Edwards, Obama, Dodd, and Biden.
There’s a *lot* compacted into this ad. And I know that I was able to take some significant stuff away from the ad, I wonder if it would be more effective to have separate, shorter ads on 2 of the three main points. That is, a 1 minute ad on why no residual forces and a 1 minute ad on the other candidates (vote for Richardson would be pretty clear in both, obviously). That way, you could gain exposure on the web for a longer period of time, because as one ad fades to memory another would pop up. Just a thought.
On the other hand, perhaps the hope is that the video goes viral and will be big enough on its own to make the point and be effective in the longer term. And there’s not much of a longer term anyway.
(3) This is perhaps part of 1 & 2, but I think it deserves it’s own spot. Any time there is a multi-person race, it is incredibly difficult to attack every single candidate and come out on top. I know it’s not a “negative” ad per se, but it does have a negative tilt to it. In a three way race, the theory goes, 1 candidate would probably respond, then the third gets to take the high road and denounce negative campaigning. The trouble with a field this big is that Richardson is sort of one of many, so he needs to break out. But this type of ad takes on too many people and organizations — the entire Republican field, every single serious Democrat, even mentions the media as an issue. It’s too many folks to blame. I do think that it’s mostly an attack on Clinton, especially with the underscoring of “experience AND change,” at the end [they’ve been going back and forth on that line.] Even so, the strength of his argument, that he’s the only one who wants no residual force, can com out as a weakness — ‘everybody else in the world disagrees with me, even all of the Democratic candidates.’
(4) It spends more time attacking the other Democrats than showing me how having no residual forces would force Iraqis to reconcile. At the very end he said he’d have a big conference, and all I could think was, “Wow, watch that convention center of those willing to bargain get blown up.” Clearly the ad is meant for high information voters, but if it’s to go truly viral, and if he’s gonna do so much anyway, I’d like to get a better sense of how leaving would force Iraqis to live with one another.
(5) Long term, there’s little chance that Richardson wins the nomination. I don’t think that attacking Democrats is a great way for him to set himself up for a VP slot. And I want somebody with Richardson’s foreign policy experience in the VP slot. A lot.
(6) Maybe this is just me, but it’s almost too polished for YouTube. I think of a good YouTube video as being somehow more authentic, more candid, or perhaps more direct into the camera than any other ad. Even if it’s extremely polished, like Obama’s ad that was posted on BMG a bit ago, having that direct experience of a candidate looking right at you is what makes YouTube work for me. This was more of an elongated TV ad that they threw online. It didn’t strike me as different or unique from any other political ad I might find, save for the length.
Net net? I think it’s a very successful ad with quite a bit of substance to it. It makes a distinction between him and the other candidates and I can come away with three main points. Moreover, it appeals to base voters — like myself — and could become viral, in theory. But, I don’t like how negative it is on the other Democrats, especially coming from a guy who previously talked about not attacking other Democrats.
What did you all think?
PS – sorry about the length of this post. It’s close to 3AM so I may ramble…