A Winning Strategy: How Digital Lessons from 2012 Influenced 2013 Elections

A Winning Strategy: How Digital Lessons from 2012 Influenced 2013 Elections

Last fall, Bully Pulpit Interactive’s marketing and advertising strategy helped secure several big wins in the 2012 election: President Obama was re-elected, Elizabeth Warren joined the Senate, Claire McCaskill was re-elected, Prop 32 in California was defeated and marriage equality was passed in Maryland.

Over the past year, BPI applied the strategy and tactics employed in the 2012 Presidential race to some of the toughest races in the country. Our goal was simple – scale the marketing and advertising model used to help get President Obama re-elected in 2012 to local and statewide races.

So, what has changed since 2012? Here are our top five takeaways in 2013.

BPI’s Top 5 Digital Takeaways from 2013 Election

  • Create a model for persuadable voters and know where to reach them: The days of soccer moms and Nascar dads are long gone.  The 2012 campaign was fought over a very specific list of persuadable voters in a handful of states. The capability to create custom lists of persuadable targets is now scalable down to the state and local level.  This will define how resources are spent on every sophisticated campaign going forward.
  • A shift toward individually targeted media: The Obama campaign had to develop its own software to use data models to purchase television and Internet ads. Those tools are now available to Democratic candidates and will be readily embraced by the smartest campaigns in 2014.
  • Digital now supports every function of the campaign: Obviously campaigns will still need people to build websites and write emails, but every staff member on a campaign must be digitally minded and totally integrated. Digital is now a service department, helping fulfill the traditional business needs of a campaign – communicating with voters, organizing our base, and turning them out on Election Day.  Thus, every communications, finance, and field director must also be digitally native. Campaigns that hire these positions without ensuring digital integration will no longer be effective.
  • Death of micro-sites: As the goals of digital campaigns become more focused on core campaign metrics, we can increasingly focus on what matters. Over the last 8 years, a phenomenal amount of campaign resources have been wasted trying to use digital as a means to generate a single press story.  The most visible example of this maturation is what we hope will soon be the death of the campaign micro-sites.  While these sites can have a purpose, the winning 2013 campaigns have stopped using digital solely to chase minor press stories.
  • SuperPACs are here to stay: Independent expenditure groups have been around for decades.  But until Citizens United, those groups came and went each election cycle.  The SuperPACs launched in 2012 are different.  They are professional, long-term focused, and are investing in the digital and technological infrastructure to materially impact races for years to come.