Campaign comms pros can't win in this election

On the eve of the US midterm elections, where, if polls are to be believed, both the House and Senate are in play, a divided nation can come together to agree upon one thing: Those who want to represent us in Congress are not good at communications.

On the eve of the US midterm elections, where, if polls are to be believed, both the House and Senate are in play, a divided nation can come together to agree upon one thing: Those who want to represent us in Congress are not good at communications.

Whether the campaign PR people are incompetent or their sage advice was brusquely swept aside, neither side of the aisle could maintain any sense of decorum. Consider Sen. George Allen's (R-VA) racial epithets ("macaca"), Rep. Mark Foley's (R-FL) sexual misconduct (IM conversations can be saved), GOP senatorial candidate Katherine Harris' hysterical proclamations (the media and Democrats were to blame for covering up Foley's scandal), and Sen. John Kerry's (D-MA) decision to say cadets who didn't study would get marooned in Iraq (when the Dem strategy was for all, especially Kerry, to remain silent).

Be it intense media scrutiny, the perpetual news cycle, the sheer lunacy of some candidates, or a desire to get through a glutted information environment, candidates today are brazenly flaunting mores or putting their feet in their mouths. But perhaps all of this malarkey underscores an important point: The public can't seem to maintain its interest in a campaign that is not a train wreck.

The battle that has received the most national media attention is the race for Virginia's Senate seat pitting Allen against Democratic challenger Jim Webb. The latter decided to join his opponent in the muck by refusing to confirm or deny ever having used racial epithets himself. While knowing who has racist tendencies is certainly useful, the interest in this campaign overshadows what's truly of national importance - points of policy.

So while the PR people on the campaign trail must have ulcers the size of grapefruits, the follies are the only thing getting their candidates airtime.

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