Political parties and direct marketing

Connecting voters and candidates more effectively

Authored by: Peter N. Ubertaccio

Routledge Handbook of Political Marketing

Print publication date:  November  2011
Online publication date:  March  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415579933
eBook ISBN: 9780203349908
Adobe ISBN: 9781136597442


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At the end of the 20th century political parties worldwide followed a trend towards the centralization of campaigning. In the US, for example, political parties centralized certain fundraising and marketing efforts in their Washington, DC arms – the two national committees and their counterparts for House and Senate candidates – even as the local organizations that once served to connect citizens to government became less important to voters and to nominations. At the same time, political campaigning used the more sophisticated tools of political marketing, particularly direct marketing. Direct marketing, a pioneering tactic of international companies such as Amway and Tupperware, micro-targeting and social networking replaced the tactics of the old party system and, when aggressively used in political campaigns, hold out the promise for a return to locally active organizations. In the US, they were first seen in the Republican congressional campaign of 2002 and the Bush re-election campaign of 2004, which demonstrated that highly effective micro-targeting of voters combined with direct marketing strategies could find more and turn out a greater number of partisan voters. The same principals of direct marketing were also used by Vermont governor Howard Dean during the 2004 Democratic primaries, and then to form the social media strategy of the Obama for President campaign.

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