The Battle for the Small Donor

Monday's mail brought competing solicitations for small donations -- one from the DNC, the other from the RNCC. Contrasting the two may provide some insight into the marketing campaign shaping up for November.

The DNC appeal, signed by Governor Tim Kaine, who chairs the committee, begins with a reminder of where we came from:

When President Obama promised to bring change to Washington, we made a choice. We decided to build a new Democratic Party that, more than ever, was focused on organizing and guided by the support of millions of Americans from across the country.

Then-senator Obama did raise a lot of money from millions of Americans as we learned in the Washington Post. The strategy then was based on the idea that Washington politics were dominated by entrenched politicians and special interests. Apparently, this theory is still in favor.

The Republicans, for their part, make it more personal, recalling past enthusiasm:

Supporter,

As a Member of the National Republican Congressional Committee, you've consistently and enthusiastically supported our efforts to elect a Majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Recommendation: Perhaps something other than Supporter in the greeting would solidify the personal approach.  At least the DNC calls me Tom, although they think my last name is Jefferson.

The DNC is going really small:

Can you donate $5 or more to help us remake Washington?

The RNCC leader John Boehner wants a bit more, but offers special recognition:

With a special contribution of $25.00, you will receive a personalized Gold Card from the NRCC.

No doubt with all of the benefits we normally associate with gold cards. They will accept smaller donations, of course.

As to why one would support one of these over the other, the DNC offers this:

I guess the President's plan to rein in the big banks struck a nerve.

Republicans are celebrating that fact -- even bragging about it on Twitter. Conservative 527s are pledging to commit $200 million to the 2010 election. With the corporate cash flowing in, they think they have a real edge in the fall. But we have something the Republicans don't -- supporters like you.

So, give because the fat cats on Wall Street are giving wads of cash to the Republicans, which seems to be a shift in policy from 2008 when BP, for example, gave most of their support to then-senator Obama.

On the other hand, the RNCC appeals to fear of all things Obama:

...But fast-forward to today and Republicans are fighting to repeal ObamaCare; we stood strong against the "stimulus" that didn't work and the "cap and trade" national energy tax; and we're working to cut government spending so we can create new jobs. We're standing on principle thanks to the hard work and unwavering commitment of men and women like you all around the country.

Make that fear and loyalty. Apparently, without loyalty, they would not be able to stand on principle. To be fair, the DNC appeals to fear as well:

But the fight is far from over. It doesn't matter how many lobbyists support the GOP -- the Democratic Party has chosen to go a different direction. The 2010 election is an opportunity to prove that point. If you stand with us, we'll show the GOP that there are consequences for their decisions, too. 

This is marketing, and so is relatively easy to pick apart. Both sides want money to either hold onto power, or gain power. But looking at what is not mentioned  can be revealing. For example, this is about the midterm elections when both Senate Leader Reid and House Speaker Pelosi are up for re-election, yet neither are mentioned in the DNC message. President Obama is mentioned. With a -3.3 spread between approve/disapprove according to Real Clear Politics, he is apparently the most popular of the leading Democrats at the moment -- and not up for re-election.

On the Republican side there is mention of what they oppose, but nothing about what they support. There is some concern about this, like here for example. Keeping specifics on strategy a secret for now is probably good policy; if they reveal too much too soon it will give the opposition time to respond with all of the small-donor cash that they are raising. Wait too long, though, and there will be no time to distribute the message. Look for leaks in the next few weeks with some early details, but it will be something of a fan dance. In any case, it is unlikely that Republicans will be able to do any more than prevent further growth of government even if they take both houses of Congress in November.

The Democrats are faced with the prospect of defending existing policies while pressing forward with more of the same. The same being the inexorable move toward centralized control of every aspect of the economy. To prove this they need to gain trust, so expect a lot of Democrats to rail against Charles Rangel (D-NY) as he faces ethics and possibly other charges. Nothing makes one look more noble than pointing out the transgressions of one's own ally. The Democrats are selling Obama, which implies what many have suggested; the Democrats have abandoned the center, let alone the right, and are seeking to bolster enthusiasm among the left-wing base.

So there's the choice: $5 to support the proletariat march toward utopia, or $25 to be a gold card carrying member of the elite right-wing power block. Maybe I should just wait for November.

Tom Bruner holds an MBA from an Ivy-free institution somewhere in darkest America, and so usually recognizes marketing when he sees it.
Monday's mail brought competing solicitations for small donations -- one from the DNC, the other from the RNCC. Contrasting the two may provide some insight into the marketing campaign shaping up for November.

The DNC appeal, signed by Governor Tim Kaine, who chairs the committee, begins with a reminder of where we came from:

When President Obama promised to bring change to Washington, we made a choice. We decided to build a new Democratic Party that, more than ever, was focused on organizing and guided by the support of millions of Americans from across the country.

Then-senator Obama did raise a lot of money from millions of Americans as we learned in the Washington Post. The strategy then was based on the idea that Washington politics were dominated by entrenched politicians and special interests. Apparently, this theory is still in favor.

The Republicans, for their part, make it more personal, recalling past enthusiasm:

Supporter,

As a Member of the National Republican Congressional Committee, you've consistently and enthusiastically supported our efforts to elect a Majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Recommendation: Perhaps something other than Supporter in the greeting would solidify the personal approach.  At least the DNC calls me Tom, although they think my last name is Jefferson.

The DNC is going really small:

Can you donate $5 or more to help us remake Washington?

The RNCC leader John Boehner wants a bit more, but offers special recognition:

With a special contribution of $25.00, you will receive a personalized Gold Card from the NRCC.

No doubt with all of the benefits we normally associate with gold cards. They will accept smaller donations, of course.

As to why one would support one of these over the other, the DNC offers this:

I guess the President's plan to rein in the big banks struck a nerve.

Republicans are celebrating that fact -- even bragging about it on Twitter. Conservative 527s are pledging to commit $200 million to the 2010 election. With the corporate cash flowing in, they think they have a real edge in the fall. But we have something the Republicans don't -- supporters like you.

So, give because the fat cats on Wall Street are giving wads of cash to the Republicans, which seems to be a shift in policy from 2008 when BP, for example, gave most of their support to then-senator Obama.

On the other hand, the RNCC appeals to fear of all things Obama:

...But fast-forward to today and Republicans are fighting to repeal ObamaCare; we stood strong against the "stimulus" that didn't work and the "cap and trade" national energy tax; and we're working to cut government spending so we can create new jobs. We're standing on principle thanks to the hard work and unwavering commitment of men and women like you all around the country.

Make that fear and loyalty. Apparently, without loyalty, they would not be able to stand on principle. To be fair, the DNC appeals to fear as well:

But the fight is far from over. It doesn't matter how many lobbyists support the GOP -- the Democratic Party has chosen to go a different direction. The 2010 election is an opportunity to prove that point. If you stand with us, we'll show the GOP that there are consequences for their decisions, too. 

This is marketing, and so is relatively easy to pick apart. Both sides want money to either hold onto power, or gain power. But looking at what is not mentioned  can be revealing. For example, this is about the midterm elections when both Senate Leader Reid and House Speaker Pelosi are up for re-election, yet neither are mentioned in the DNC message. President Obama is mentioned. With a -3.3 spread between approve/disapprove according to Real Clear Politics, he is apparently the most popular of the leading Democrats at the moment -- and not up for re-election.

On the Republican side there is mention of what they oppose, but nothing about what they support. There is some concern about this, like here for example. Keeping specifics on strategy a secret for now is probably good policy; if they reveal too much too soon it will give the opposition time to respond with all of the small-donor cash that they are raising. Wait too long, though, and there will be no time to distribute the message. Look for leaks in the next few weeks with some early details, but it will be something of a fan dance. In any case, it is unlikely that Republicans will be able to do any more than prevent further growth of government even if they take both houses of Congress in November.

The Democrats are faced with the prospect of defending existing policies while pressing forward with more of the same. The same being the inexorable move toward centralized control of every aspect of the economy. To prove this they need to gain trust, so expect a lot of Democrats to rail against Charles Rangel (D-NY) as he faces ethics and possibly other charges. Nothing makes one look more noble than pointing out the transgressions of one's own ally. The Democrats are selling Obama, which implies what many have suggested; the Democrats have abandoned the center, let alone the right, and are seeking to bolster enthusiasm among the left-wing base.

So there's the choice: $5 to support the proletariat march toward utopia, or $25 to be a gold card carrying member of the elite right-wing power block. Maybe I should just wait for November.

Tom Bruner holds an MBA from an Ivy-free institution somewhere in darkest America, and so usually recognizes marketing when he sees it.

RECENT VIDEOS