The Ever-Elusive Silver Bullet

In Iowa, Democrats Look for the Perfectly Timed Shot

By Published on .

Evan Tracey Evan Tracey
Political ad strategy and, for that matter, all political strategy is more about timing than it is about plans or tactics. Since the beginning of modern political advertising, campaigns have always been in search of the "silver bullet" to propel their campaign to the top of the heap. In a campaign's mind, the "silver bullet" ad can make up for all the lackluster fundraising, debate missteps, poor organization, uninspiring campaign themes and so on.

In the past couple of days, we have witnessed a number of changes to the media landscape. The Obama campaign has begun to employ a machine-gun strategy in Iowa and New Hampshire. The campaign is opening up its massive wallet for increased media buys. It's now averaging close to 80 spots per day in Iowa and expanding its buys in the markets like Boston and Portland that surround New Hampshire. This latest ad spree brings his totals since June to over 5,000 airings in Iowa alone, more than the Mitt Romney campaign in that state.

The Edwards campaign is finally hitting the airwaves with meaningful new ad buys in Iowa containing a powerful message aimed squarely at the Democratic caucus goers. For Edwards, Iowa is do or die, by the account of most prognosticators, and his latest ad, "Heroes," is an emotional appeal to the voters in an attempt to propel his campaign back to the top of the polls as we head towards the holiday season.

With last week's hyper-focused democratic debate as a backdrop, it is clearly "go time" for the campaigns if they are going to supplant the frontrunner. What the campaigns are now faced with is a 60 day sprint in Iowa, where the field will be whittled down by at least half. At this junction in the race, the campaigns fighting to move up will be unleashing all their best stuff.

With this backdrop the Clinton campaigns ads had better have some "political Kevlar" to protect against the hail of attacks that will be headed her way in the coming weeks.

With this year's condensed presidential election cycle, the campaign that can deliver the correct message at the most opportune time will likely be the one that comes out on top, or at least gets its ticket punched to the next round of primaries.

For the Democrats its "Whites of their eyes time" -- so ready, aim and fire.

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Evan Tracey is the founder and chief operating officer of Campaign Media Analysis Group, a TNS Media Intelligence company. See his complete bio.
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