08 November 2010

How to win without news media

Texas governor Rick Perry won re-election without relying on conventional news media.

Perry shunned editorial board meetings, for example.  Those are sit-down sessions with the entire editorial staff.  It’s a traditional way to garner an endorsement and that is traditionally seen as a key part of any major political campaign.

The reason is pretty simple politics:

Mike Baselice, Perry's highly skilled pollster, acknowledged Wednesday at a public forum sponsored by The Texas Tribune that the campaign asked primary voters in Texas whether a newspaper endorsement would make them more or less likely to vote for Perry. Only 6 percent said an endorsement would make them more likely to support Perry, while an eye-popping 37 percent said it would make them less likely (56 percent said it made no difference).

In other words, for all the energy conventional thinking would have you put into sucking up to editors, the average Texas voter didn’t really give a rat’s derriere one way or the other. And with almost 40% taking an endorsement as a bad thing, that pretty much clinched the deal. 

Predictably the news media slagged Perry.  That only increased his standing in the eyes of voters, especially the 37% who said they would look unfavourably on a candidate who had a news media endorsement of any kind.

Perry also didn’t do the usual things associated with a conventional campaign, like lawn signs or direct mail.  Instead, his campaign used social media, paid television and “field operations” – face-to-face work by campaign volunteers.

- srbp -