Sunday, May 10, 2015

Presidential Forums: A Growing Cottage Industry

How New Forums Effect Campaigns

 Several politically-minded businessmen are becoming shrewd entrepreneurs. Nothing in politics matches the drama of a split convention, and nothing terrifies a national party more than that prospect.
  The 1968 Democrat National Convention was about as ugly and exciting as they come; or came.
  There will probably never be such a spectacle again, if a major party can avoid it.
  But the specter of debates now replaces some of that magic. The problem is that you can't make money off a debate.
  So now we have events put on by both state parties and upstart event management companies. The Iowa Straw Poll was one of the first such events. The Iowa GOP makes a bunch of money off that event, at the Iowa State Fair.
2011 Iowa Straw Poll
  Last week we had a New Hampshire event. This weekend we just had a South Carolina event, and in 2 weeks, the Big Southern Republican Leadership Conference comes to Oklahoma.
  When does a market become too saturated? At what point does a candidate reach his quota, and opt for other ways of connecting with voters and contributors?

  Perhaps the answer is different for different candidates? If you're a 2nd-tier candidate, a forum might be your best way of building your presidential stature. You could possibly peel of some support from other leading candidates, and get some C-span coverage that you wouldn't otherwise have.
S.C. Freedom Summit
  But what if you're a top-tier candidate? The big multi-candidate forums cost you money and manpower, but right now you need to be raising money. A top tier candidate is already scheduling fundraisers and meeting with endless special interest groups. He really can't do that at a forum.

Case In Point:

Rand Paul, at a fundraiser. Fundraising is as crucial to
early campaigns as giving speeches.

  This weekend, Rand Paul & Jeb Bush skipped the South Carolina Freedom Summit. Jeb Bush took time to travel to Liberty University and deliver a graduation ceremony. Why? Jeb knows he needs more support from the 'Falwell Republicans'. Rand Paul is setting up key offices and operations in several states. His travel to his new San Francisco Tech Hub was more pressing than yet another forum.
Jeb Bush, at Jerry Falwell's Liberty U.
  Are forums valuable to voters and state organizers? Heck, Yes! Activists benefit greatly from these  opportunities. They give you a raw perspective of the race that TV doesn't get the opportunity to filter.
  At this time 4 years ago, Rick Santorum's campaign was essentially 2 guys in a pickup truck. For guys like Santorum, it's great to have a pre assembled crowd. He won't have the manpower to create events until he wins a couple states.

David Van Risseghem

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