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Death By Dumb Political Vendors

By Greg L | 19 December 2012 | Virginia Politics | 8 Comments

If Republican candidates are going to win elections in the aftermath of OFA’s rather brilliant demonstration of what winning campaigns need to look like, they’re going to have to stop doing business with shady, dishonest and bizarrely incompetent political vendors such as “Precision Data Management.”  Even if folks like this don’t often make such boneheaded moves as the one I saw today, they suck away valuable resources, distract campaign operations away from productive pursuits, and boost the profiles of the least deserving in the business.

A strange email, ostensibly from George Allen, landed in my inbox today with the subject line “My Campaign’s First Critical Fundraising Deadline is December 31st.”  Often these go directly to trash, but curious about what office George Allen was suddenly running for I decided to read it.  Right off the bat, I figure this has got to be some sort of bad joke, as they can’t even spell “governor” correctly.

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So let’s get this straight:  Cuccinelli For Governor is buying “advertising” from George Allen?  How utterly bizarre.  There’s the required disclosure that it’s paid for and authorized by Ken Cuccinelli for Governor, and the donation links go to a pyrix website for Cuccinelli, so it doesn’t seem that this is one of those scams where some sends out fundraising appeals for a candidate, but the money doesn’t actually end up going to the candidate.  This doesn’t seem to be a hoax.

Down at the bottom of this email there’s a disclosure of what entity is actually sending this, which turns out to be someone I’ve never heard of before.

“Precision Data Management” is located at 12120 Sunset Hills Road, Suite 450, in Reston and shares that address with “TMA Direct“, “Integrated Direct Marketing“, “TMA List Brokerage & Management Inc.”, and “American Legacy PAC.” Interestingly, “Precision Data Management” lists “TMA Direct” and “Integrated Direct Marketing” as corporate clients, which must be terribly convenient for them. Of these, only TMA List Brokerage shows up on VPAP as a vendor to political campaigns in Virginia.

The link that provides information on how I was “added to the system” provided the following information:

I have never donated to George Allen, much less “opted in” to an email spammer on December 5th, so this is clearly fabricated.  More likely, some list obtained by PDM was loaded into their spam bot on December 5th and whoever did it picked some justifying reason at random.  Apparently honesty isn’t important to PDM, which doesn’t reflect all that well on the clients who make the mistake of choosing them.

To be clear here, it’s pretty obvious that it was George Allen’s campaign that made this decision to do business with PDM.  What I suspect happened here is that the Cuccinelli campaign “rented” an email list from the Allen campaign, which would have resulted in emails being sent out by the Allen campaign using the Allen campaign’s vendor.  That vendor, in addition to being monumentally sloppy about the subject line and including a completely inappropriate disclaimer about “advertising” that makes no sense at all in political communications, padded their email list with garbage.  There’s no way a month after a campaign concludes that they’d be adding additional names to a campaign email list as “donors” unless the intent was to repurpose campaign assets into a commercial money-making enterprise.  I’ve no doubt that many others receiving this email would also find they were involuntarily “opted-in” the same way I was so some shady direct marketing firm could turn a profit by selling their names to other political and commercial enterprises.

An utterly tremendous volume of business is conducted in buying, selling and “renting out” lists for direct mail, telemarketing and email for Republican candidates and causes, to the point it is a significant focus for Republican campaigns.  Vendors claim that if your list is good enough and you work it hard enough you’re going to win an election.  Instead, campaigns spend extraordinary piles of money endlessly harassing a subgroup of the active electorate whose votes and campaign contributions they’re probably going to obtain regardless of how many emails and phone calls they bombard these folks with.  People who aren’t on these lists are the ones campaigns have to spend time and effort reaching out to, which was precisely the focus of the Obama campaign and utterly not the focus of the Mitt Romney or George Allen campaigns.

If Republicans are going to win elections in the future rather than provide guaranteed employment opportunities to shady list vendors like PDM, they better realize pretty quickly that the art of using data in political campaigns has completely changed and these fraudsters are now useless wastes of money.  ”Lists” might have worked in years past, but their value is rapidly dissipating.  The response rates on a messages broadcast as widely as possible are dropping precipitously as voters and donors become increasingly hostile to the harassment, while the value of micro-targeted messages to carefully selected political and demographic subgroups is taking off.

Relying on “lists” is like dragging cases of shotgun shells out into a field and blasting away continuously while you hope something tasty flies overhead.  All you end up doing is annoying people with the noise.



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8 Comments

  1. Shaun Kenney said on 19 Dec 2012 at 2:41 pm:
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    Dammit Greg… we need to quit AGREEING on so many things all at the same time!

  2. Doug Brown said on 19 Dec 2012 at 2:58 pm:
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    And “harassment” it is, Ken would be wise to cut back. For me to go to a site like PJMedia and have 4 images of Ken on my screen at the same time is simply stupid. I call it Ken’s $5 tin cup ad, unless I screen my IP I got Ken popping up with his tin cup everywhere I go. (Good thing I already got my Cooch Christmas card)

    Greg you’re right, Republicans need to get rid of the self-serving, self-promoting consultants and insipid media messengers . The Rove/Norquist types and their spawn are killing the grassroots of the Party. They’ve dumbed down the Party and they fleeced it.

    As some geniuses in the Party are finally waking up to - you have to offer an alternative to the Democrats if you expect voters to take you seriously. The Dems already have dumb cornered, offering dumber is not a serious or valid alternative.

  3. Greg L said on 19 Dec 2012 at 2:58 pm:
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    Just got this same email again, to the admin email address for BVBL. The “opt in” information is identical to what I got before, and BVBL has *certainly* not donated to George Allen.

    I sure hope Cooch rented this list super cheap, because it’s full of garbage.

  4. Cynic said on 20 Dec 2012 at 10:45 pm:
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    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2245122/America-reaches-el-tipping-pointo-Outrage-Ann-Coulter-outburst-calls-Latinos-lazy-underclass.html

    Ann’s and other people’s election analysis. Note that Loundon Co. enters into the mix!

  5. Doug Brown said on 21 Dec 2012 at 2:01 am:
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    Ann’s an ass and a hack. Mitt Romney 2012, Kris Kobach in 2016.

    Excuse the Coulter vernacular , just wanted to make sure the Coulterites understood my analysis of her analysis.

  6. Anon said on 25 Dec 2012 at 6:05 pm:
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    This is getting really old for republican campaigns. It is getting tough to see the same problems every four years and every two years.

    http://www.bvbl.net/index.php/2008/11/04/11th-district-battle/

    TV and Radio and direct mail is mostly falling on deaf ears.

    People are beginning to understand that buying ads on radio and TV stations to get a few swing voters to switch to “our side” is problematic. Even throwing direct mail at them can be overkill.

    Meanwhile the Dems were bringing in hundreds of volunteers to go door to door in these districts effectively targeting the most likely voters and personally persuading voters to switch sides.

    “There are those of us who think you should spend campaign money on alternative grassroots media and grassroots organizers in these swing districts.

    Hire real grassroots people who can deliver the votes. If you dropped your expensive political media consultants and their ads you would have bundles to spend on real organizing. TV is fun and we all want to be on it but you need to show the proof that these media consultants can swing voters to your side via expensive TV ads.”

    We could spend money to build the party instead of lining the pockets of expensive consultants so that they can stay in 4 star hotels, have expensive vacation homes etc.

    Until 2009, when we lose again. I hope we learn some lessons.

  7. anon said on 27 Dec 2012 at 1:28 pm:
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    One consulting groups with many problems got 97 million dollars in Virginia, right up the street. Not bad.

    History keeps repeating itself.

    www.redstate.com/2012/11/28/the-incestuous-bleeding-of-the-republican-party/

    www.bluestemprairie.com/bluestemprairie/2012/11/norm-coleman-boon-companion-jeff-larson-at-center-of-unwanted-conservative-attention.html

  8. anon said on 26 Mar 2013 at 11:27 am:
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    http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/03/14/Caddell-Blows-the-Lid-Off-CPAC-With-Blistering-Attack-on-Racketeering-Republican-Consultants

    Another update on dumb political consultants. Maybe you should start a series Greg.

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