The Speed of Modern Campaigns: Does it Matter?

This YouTube video was posted on the Democratic Rapid Response YouTube channel. According to the information on the side of the post, the last activity on the channel was yesterday. As you’ll notice, there is actually plenty of footage from the debate itself. This means the video – which looks pretty good – must have gone up within hours of the conclusion of the debate. My guess – and it would be great if someone in the know could confirm this – is that they were ready to go with most of the footage and were counting on Romney to produce some cringe worthy moments during the debate. Either way, it is pretty impressive.

It seems to me that there are a number of good papers waiting to be written on these sort of rapid response ads. Most basically, I wonder how many people see them? More generally, though, I wonder how much potential they have to drive media coverage of the event, and to frame the take away point from the debate. (e.g., I found this add through the Politico website in a story on the debate in, actually, a blog entry as opposed to even a featured article.) Can they exacerbate already existing problems for candidates? Finally, I wonder if these rapid response adds posted on YouTube could function as a laboratory to test out which adds are most effective. So you run a bunch of rapid response ads on the internet, see which ones generate the most traction, and then decide which ones to spend your money on in a TV buy. Obviously, there is a much larger question out there about whether ads matter at all , but for now I’m just focusing on the more specific question of the effects of rapid response ads.

Anyway, just thought I’d throw these ideas out there. If anyone has done any research on the topic already, please mention it in the comments below. Also feel free to suggest other interesting research questions.

6 Responses to The Speed of Modern Campaigns: Does it Matter?

  1. Dave January 20, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

    I’d suspect that rapid response videos are seldom seen by a mass of the general public, but could act as “signaling devices” used by campaigns to push their preferred take on an incident or statement. From a partisan’s viewpoint, those being signaled would be, ideally, the mainstream media who could push the desired message out to the general public.

    A test of this hypothesis (that rapid responses are meant to direct MSM coverage)would be to track separately both Democrats’ and Republicans’ rapid response efforts to see how frequently they were picked up (in a favorable fashion) by the MSM. If Dem responses get more traction than Repub responses, that would suggest the hypothesis is correct. The issue of measuring frequency might take some effort if the two sides’ numbers of rapid responses were not fairly similar.

  2. John Smith January 20, 2012 at 9:29 pm #

    Debate footage ads have come out that fast before. In 2008, the McCain campaign put out an ad with debate footage while McCain was still debating.

  3. ScS January 21, 2012 at 5:57 pm #

    As of this comment posting, that video had been viewed less than 25,000 times. I’m not sure how effective it can really be if the people seeing it are probably already the people who wouldn’t agree with Romney in the first place.

    I can’t imagine a lot of Republicans or undecided voters visiting the Democrat’s Rapid Response YouTube blog.

    • Andrew Gelman January 21, 2012 at 6:21 pm #

      Yeah, it seems more likely they’re trying to get the attention of the free media (such as the Monkey Cage!).

  4. Grzegorz February 10, 2012 at 8:58 pm #

    One item… Ross Perot, aconrdicg to polls, took votes EQUALLY from Bush Sr. and Clinton. His populism was at right angles to left-right. Though it wasn’t along the modernist axis.

  5. Andreas Moser February 19, 2012 at 12:25 pm #

    Mitt Romney has a much bigger problem when people find out about this from his past: