SNow that Obama hath ascended to America's throne, it's time for everyone to speak loudly about the Lessons Learned. Did we learn that Obama won because eight years of heinous mismanagement made everyone hate Republicans? Ha, no, that would be far too easy. The real lessons are all these crazy marketing strategies the Obama campaign used, allegedly! After the jump, we'll tell you five actual lessons of the Obama victory, and why things haven't changed as much as everyone says: 1. Facebook doesn't mean shit: This is really the insight that gives us the most delight. All those Facebook groups for Obama and donating your Facebook status do not mean shit. They are a great way to feel as if you're participating in the campaign fight while actually doing nothing to sway any votes. Facebook is the epitome of preaching to the choir. To the extent that it's an easy and effective way to communicate with people, sure, it helps, and it will be adopted by both parties eventually to the extent that it makes their jobs easier, just like email and websites. But the idea that some sort of "Facebook activism" actually helped shift red states to blue states is just wrong. Offline tendencies drive online behavior, not vice versa. 2. TV is still king: With all the internet and the websites and the social networking and the blast emails and the online video and the microtargeting, you know what the most important weapon is for any campaign. TV ads, as always. That's where all that money you give on the internet gets spent (Obama spent $250 million on ads—which sounds like a lot until you compare it to, say, the $300 million Microsoft is spending for its current ad campaign). In terms of being a powerfully influential medium for moving voters, TV crushes the internet now and forevermore until further notice, the end. 3. The candidates matter: Did Barack Obama do better than John Kerry because Obama had a more sophisticated media strategy? OR was it because Obama is more competent, more likable, more telegenic, and was running against a teetering old warmonger who would be a heartbeat away from turning the Oval Office over to a fundamentalist Alaskan psycho woman? You decide. 4. Elections ride the swinging pendulum: When the nation swings as far to one end of the spectrum as we've been for the last eight years, with such disastrous results, you can bet it'll swing back to the other end. Honestly, Christopher Dodd with no Facebook page at all would have had a pretty decent shot at winning this year if he raised the money Obama did. It's the Democrats' time. 5. Campaign tactics are always evaluated in retrospect because the media has no idea what it's talking about, mostly: Here's how media experts evaluate the tactics of a presidential campaign: A campaign does something. The media sees what the reaction is. Then they "explain" why it was a good/ bad idea, based on whether it worked or not. If some tactic starts off slow and is pronounced a failure only to eventually start working, watch the media magically create a reason for this dynamic that does not include "We have no idea what we're talking about." This goes for us too, btw. Neither we or our media colleagues are any more able to predict the dynamics of an election in advance than you, the average idiot! The only prediction worth a shit is one made beforehand, that turns out to be right. And the person making that prediction is still not worth a shit unless they can make similar, accurate predictions repeatedly over an extended period of time. This is why everything that pundits say is good only for entertainment value, and Nate Silver will rule the world.
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