01 November 2010

DE Electioneering by Omission?

In a desperate attempt to influence First State voter, Delaware Republican Senate nominee bought 30 minute campaign spots to air Deleware 28, a local cable access channel, on Sunday night at 11:30 pm, and 10 am.  But instead of airing "We the People of the First State” which the O’Donnell campaign had hyped, Delaware 28 ran other programming.

The station implausabily announced said that they forgot to run it. Twice.   I might have believed problems with payment, but the media is wise to get campaign commercials paid up front. What will be the excuse if the O’Donnell paid media does not run for the next three airings?

As we learned in the 1992 campaign with Ross Perot, sometimes a half hour commercial does not cost much more than a 30 second spot.  And there is a precedent for half hour political ads changing the political tide, as was demonstrated by then Senator Richard Nixon’s “Checkers Speech” in 1952.  While I am dubious about the effectiveness of a half hour campaign commercial swaying the electorate in this day and age, this string of unfortunate, in not intentional, coincidences does drive home a message–Electioneering by Omission.

A last hour dirty trick might get lost in the media mix.  But Rush Limbaugh picked up the O’Donnell anecdote and trumpeted it to his large audience. It will motive conservatives and Tea Party types to crawl over broken glass to get out the vote, but the news will also augment O’Donnell’s aura as an outsider who is opposed by entrenched powers.

The seat is still a long shot for O’Donnell but this odd event draws more media than a half hour ad on local access cable ever could.

Update 11/1  The Politico is reporting that the tape arrived at the station two hours before the first scheduled run but it was Comcast's duty to load the tape.  The independent producer said that he did not receive the payment until today and that he was out of the area during the weekend due to a family emergency.  Did the dog eat the homework too.  Really, it sounds like just about every other excuse was implemented.  If all of these excuses were true, why did Delaware 28 leak that they forgot and let the story stand even after it gained national attention?

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