December 8, 2004


How to Sell a Candidate to a Porsche-Driving, Leno-Loving Nascar Fan (KATHARINE Q. SEELYE, 12/06/04, NY Times)

After the 2000 presidential campaign, strategists for President Bush came to a startling realization: Democrats watch more television than Republicans. So by buying millions of dollars' worth of television advertising time, Republicans were spending their money on audiences that tended to vote Democratic.

What to do? With the luxury of four years until the next election, the Bush team examined voters' television-viewing habits and cross-referenced them with surveys of voters' political and lifestyle preferences.

This led to an unusual step for a presidential campaign: it cut the proportion of money that it put into broadcast television and diverted more to niche cable channels and radio, where it could more precisely reach its target audience. [...]

As the Bush team analyzed the data, stark differences between the viewing habits of Republicans and Democrats quickly emerged. The channels with the highest proportion of Democrats were Court TV and the Game Show Network; for Republicans, Speedvision and the Golf Channel.

During the week, Republicans switch off the tube earlier than Democrats do. (Republicans who stay up are more likely to tune in to Jay Leno, while Democrats flock to David Letterman.) Such revelations persuaded the Bush team to alter its media-buying strategy. In 2000, the campaign spent 95 percent of its media budget on network television; this year, that dropped to 70 percent.

The campaign spent no money on national cable channels in 2000; this year it spent $20 million. It spent very little on radio in 2000; this year it spent $12 million, much of it going to religious, talk and country music programming.

"This year, we reached a wider audience of potential Republicans than we did in 2000," said Matthew Dowd, a top strategist for Mr. Bush's re-election campaign.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 8, 2004 6:25 AM

Republicans have discovered the learning curve proving they have working brains. Democrats keep repeating things that haven't worked in the past in the vain hope this time will be different. This is why the left continues to promote the socialist agenda even though it has been proven to be disastrous in country after country.

Posted by: erp at December 8, 2004 7:01 AM

What is "Speedvision"? The Nascar channel? Democrats really are doomed, if Republicans have locked up both the golf & racetrack sets.

But I bust the TV watching demo. Heck, I don't even have cable, and the TV only picks up two channels. It's for DVD's!!

Posted by: Twn at December 8, 2004 8:00 AM

We shouldn't forget the Bush Campaign's effective use of the web, for which they still get little credit. Patrick Ruffini dragged the GOP into the blog age. It will be interesting to see if incumbent state GOP candidates start to do anything similar (i.e. Rick Perry's people better have studied and learned from it, because that may be the only way they hold off the pro-abortion Senator from my state).

Posted by: kevin whited at December 8, 2004 9:42 AM

My husband really isn't a sports fan, but he watches Speedvision.

Cars, car shows, car auctions, and more cars.

Boats are thrown in too, IIRC.

Posted by: Sandy P at December 8, 2004 10:44 AM

It seems to me there are a lot of GOP voters watching South Park and the Simpsons.

Posted by: Bart at December 8, 2004 4:39 PM