Election 2010 Direct Mail Analysis, Part II
If the 2008 election was about hope and change, the 2010 mid-term campaign, judging by its direct mail, was mostly focused on anger. That's the most obvious takeaway based on a review of the fundraising appeals and campaign fliers that we've seen during the year. Whether directed at President Obama, or at Congressional leaders Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, this emotional touchpoint dominated political mail like it hasn't since the days of Bill Clinton.
The biggest story out of the election season was the success of some Republican candidates in riding the wave of "Tea Party" anger towards government. "America literally cannot survive if we stay on this road", cautioned Delaware Senate nominee Christine O'Donnell (Archive code #608-718210-1010). And although tea party candidates met with mixed success at the polls, the mainstream GOP "stole smart" in using some of that same red meat rhetoric in their mailings.
A leaflet from Connecticut Senate candidate Linda McMahon targets the disaffection with the economy and federal government: "Connecticut families are hurting. DOES WASHINGTON CARE?" (Archive code #608-718137-1009B). On another flier, this from the Republican Party of Pennsylvania, targeting the Democratic Senate candidate: "Joe Sestak has bailed out everyone but us" (Archive code 608-718213-1010A).
The Democrats, understandably, acknowledged the public's frustration with the bad economy. " I wish I could tell you ... that the economy is going to get back to full strength right away," the president says in one letter. But, he reminds supporters, "it was Republicans who drove the car into the ditch" (Archive code #608-173651-1009C). Casting the election as a choice between "the party of NO" and "lasting party of progress" was a common theme of Democratic efforts to keep control of both houses of Congress.
The success of the tea party candidates in the GOP primaries also provided fodder for Democratic efforts, led by former campaign guru James Carville. "Sarah Palin's summer of lies road trip is in full swing," he warned in a letter for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. An insert highlighting the positions of some tea party supporters further cemented the ties to the former GOP VP candidate (Archive code #608-171855-1008C).