Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Do celebrity endorsements make a difference?

Some celebrity endorsements carry more weight than others. It depends on how the celebrity is perceived (air head or not) and their fan base. I've never been star struck so I don't put much stock in celebrity endorsements. Someone I know personally has greater impact on me.

I do enjoy political jokes. However, although I laugh, I still know they are jokes.

During a survey in September, the Center for Media and Public Affairs counted seven times as many jokes about the Republican ticket than the Democratic one.

Celebrity endorsements

Princess Grace once said this about Estee Lauder:

"I don't know her very well, but she keeps sending me all these things...."

Estee Lauder would send products to celebrities she didn't know in the mail and even give them to stars she spotted on the street and later at parties as she grew more successful.

The constant practice of gifting celebrities with her homemade cosmetics is what many say caused Estee Lauder's small business to explode into a $5 billion dollar cosmetics company!

Comedy's impact on elections

During a survey in September, the Center for Media and Public Affairs counted seven times as many jokes about the Republican ticket than the Democratic one.

So Comedy Central does have an impact on elections. Read more.

Obama won the media campaign and thus the election

"The media coverage of the race for president has not so much cast Barack Obama in a favorable light as it has portrayed John McCain in a substantially negative one," according to a new Pew Reserach Center study.

While press coverage of Obama has been somewhat more positive than negative, treatment of McCain has been heavily unfavorable—and has become more so over time.

In the six weeks following the conventions through the final debate, unfavorable stories about McCain outweighed favorable ones by a factor of more than three to one.

For Obama during this period, just over a third of the stories were clearly positive in tone (36%), while a similar number (35%) were neutral or mixed. A smaller number (29%) were negative.

For McCain, by comparison, nearly six in ten of the stories studied were decidedly negative in nature (57%), while fewer than two in ten (14%) were positive.

According to the study, "McCain did succeed in erasing one advantage Obama enjoyed earlier in the campaign—the level of media exposure each candidate received." Since the end of August, the two presidential candidates have been in a "virtual dead heat" in the amount of attention paid. Vice presidential candidates added to the mix put the Republican ticket ahead. This contrasts to the pre-convention period, when Obama had nearly 50% more coverage.

Much of the increased attention for McCain derived from his own actions, which generated mostly negative assessments.

In my view, sometime before the convention McCain abandoned his close relationship with media in favor of attack ads. In addition, his actions related to the bailout and financial crisis showed lack of leadership ability.

The last week

In the week from Oct. 27-Nov. 2, the top storyline in the media, was coverage of the contest for crucial battleground states, filling 16% of the campaign newshole studied, according to the Campaign Coverage Index from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. The battle over swing states was also No.1 the previous week, but at a smaller 10% of the coverage.

According to the Project for Excellence in Journalism, the major story in the last week of the election campaign was coverage of the horse race, mainly which presidential candidate was going to take the majority of the electoral votes. This accounted for 16% of the coverage. Other strategic narratives, like head-to-head polls (at 5%), candidate attacks (4%), ads, including Obama’s 30-minute “infomercial,” (3%) and electoral vote arithmetic (3%), brought attention to the horse race to about one-third of the week’s campaign coverage. The overarching narrative was that "Obama was the clear, and possibly even overwhelming, favorite to win."

Another story was widely interpreted as a sign of political problems for the GOP ticket. Criticism of and dissension within the McCain campaign, including stories that featured an anonymous McCain advisor calling Sarah Palin a “diva,” accounted for another 2% of the campaign newshole. This obviously showed McCain's lack of leadership. He couldn't keep his campaign together and on message.

The morning after

Americans woke up with a hangover this morning. Supporters of Barack Obama felt euphoria while John McCain supporters were in disbelief.

How could a senator with over 20 years experience lose to a neophyte? One answer - during the campaign McCain failed to show leadership.

Obama was able to overwhelm the airwaves because he refused to take government campaign support, thus raising many more times in donations than did the conservative McCain.

McCain abandoned his cozy relationship with the press for a strategy of attack ads. McCain was seen as too negative. Pundits will have to revise their belief that attack ads work. They obviously don't.

Finally, McCain supported the financial bailout. The incumbent Republican congressman where I live voted against the bailout and defeated his liberal opponent by 2 to 1. McCain never could bring together the conservative coalitions needed to elect a Republican. He was seen as too far left. His support for the bailout and corporate welfarism proved his socialistic leanings.

For the few of us who supported third party candidates, we didn't have hangovers. We refused to go to the party.