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Two Parties, Two Campaigns of Fear

With less than a month to go until Election Day, the airwaves and the Internet are saturated with political commercials, and the two major parties’ messages are becoming loud and clear.  Democrats have focused heavily on health care and corporate-friendly tax cuts, while Republicans are focused on the “culture wars”. The similarity between the two parties’ strategies is that they are both intended to play on fear.

Culture Wars Center Stage For Republicans

Political watchers expected the GOP to play up its tax cuts in political ads in 2018, but instead a clear pattern of attack is being seen. The message for Republicans is that Nancy Pelosi’s “liberal culture will take over America”.  While the GOP has controlled government for two years, that dominance has not translated into a winning electoral strategy.  Republicans are not gaining swing voters in most districts, but their base is solid. Winning the election, though, means convincing a few fence-sitters to vote their way. So the tactic at every level of the midterm election is to highlight culture wars between liberals and conservatives.

One example is Senator Ted Cruz, who has unexpectedly found himself in a competitive race against Democratic Representative Beto O’Rourke in typically red Texas, has been saying that Texas is “too conservative” for a Democrat. And the focus of his most recent ad is on NFL players kneeling in protest, not on policy issues.  “In November, where will you stand?”, is the conclusive question in the Cruz ad.

Democrats Stir Anxiety Over Health Care

Democrats are focused on a different fear: reinforcing the idea that Republicans want o take away American’s  health care insurance system.  Democratic candidates and PACs spent more than $40.8 million on health care campaign ads in Senate races and $38.3 million in House races just through September, and are expected to match that level in just the next few weeks.

Michigan House candidate Elissa Slotkin who served as assistant secretary of defense under President Obama,  in her race to defeat incumbent Republican Representative Mike Bishop, tweeted her most recent health care message, directed straight at the anxiety known by many voters – particularly swing voters, who are aging rapidly.  She stated that her mother couldn’t afford her premiums after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer due to preexisting conditions.

While the GOP stokes fears over cultural differences, the Democrats, unlike in 2016, are relying on messages about saving Obamacare to appeal to the white working class and suburban swing voters who rely on it.

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Targeting Voters That Matter in the 2018 Midterm Election

Conventional wisdom suggests that whichever political party turns out the most voters wins on Election Day. The thought is that it’s up to candidates to motivate partisans to get to the polls. But recent studies show that this is the opposite of the truth – it’s the voters who identify with neither the Republicans or the Democrats that choose which party wins elections.

Two Critical Groups of Swing Voters

Two types of voters will be of critical importance in the 2018 midterm elections: non-partisans who voted for Mitt Romney during the Obama-Romney race of 2012, and non-partisan voters who voted for Barack Obama in the 2016 election. Both groups comprise likely voters who changed which party’s nominee they voted for from 2012 to 2016. Which party these independent and “swing: voters select will likely determine who wins target battleground races in Congress, and which party control’s the House.

More moderate, highly educated, suburban and affluent, Romney swing voters strongly disapprove of President Trump. The New York Times said recently that Trump’s approval rating is less than 20% and more than 2/3 disapprove of his job performance. Nearly half say they will vote for Democrats in 2018.

Trump’s swing voters, on the other hand, were mostly white, less educated, middle- or working-class. And this group appears to continue to be his base, with a nearly 80% approval rating of Trump’s presidency. But like their more moderate counterparts, some may be leaning Democrat in the fall, while the Times said that only 41% say they’ll vote for a Republican in a Congressional race. Clearly, this shows an enthusiasm gap amongst Trump’s swing voter set and Republican candidates – one Democrats hope to exploit.

The Democratic Message

Democratic incumbents in “red” states need to win Trump swing voters to have a chance to take the House in 2018. In Nevada, Florida and Arizona the balance between Trump’s swing voters and Romney’s is pretty even. So the battle will be even more intense for the attention of – and therefore focused on the issues of — lesser-educated white areas.

Political ads in these states reflect the intensity. Republicans are launching a barrage of negative attack ads on incumbent House and Senate Democrats. Democratic candidates are attacking President Trump and his stance on three key policies:  health care (by far the most popular issue), the environment and immigration.

The stakes for political advertisers have rarely been higher, nor have the budgets. With just four weeks left before the mid-term election, advertisers are expected to spend as much as $800 million on political commercials.

About Political Voice Talent

At PoliticalVoiceTalent.com, we’re expert in recording political voice overs, and we can get started right away. If you need assistance in casting the right voice for your campaign, we’re happy to help with suggestions. Please, get in touch with us and let us know what you need!

 

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What’s At Stake: Republican Candidates in 2018

As we discussed in our review of what’s at stake in 2018 for Democratic candidates, much is hanging in the balance for the 2018 mid-term election, causing record levels of special interest and campaign spending on political advertising. Many states and congressional districts are seeing and hearing more political commercials than ever before, as the election is being seen as a referendum on President Trump and the Republican Party, which has holds both houses of Congress in addition to the White House.

The sheer number and intensity of the electoral contests in 2018 make political advertising all the more critical. Campaigns must find the right voice to represent them in campaign commercials, which means finding an experienced vocal talent that can persuade voters to go to the polls and vote for their candidate or issue.

All 435 House seats are up for election; Republicans have 236 and Democrats have 193, with 6 empty seats to be filled.  There has been talk of a “blue wave” of Democrats into Washington in 2018. The stakes are high for Republican candidates across America.

Congress: House Up for Grabs

Republicans currently comprise a majority of both House and Senate. This November, 35 Senate seats and 435 House seats are up for election. Senate Republicans have the slight majority with 51 seats over Democrats’ 47 (as well as two independents who frequently vote with the Democrats).

There’s been some talk of a “wave election,” which happens when there is a large shift from one party to the other, both in popular votes and in congressional seats. But political analysts think it’s likely that Democrats could take a slim majority in 2018. It’s less likely that Republicans will lose their majority in the Senate, but there are five key races – in Arizona, Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota and Tennessee – that are close enough to worry Republicans.

Estimates say that more than $90 million will be spent in ad dollars in those 5 races alone. Political ads that grab attention, persuade, and compel voters to act are at a premium in these contests.

The Trump Agenda

The 2018 U.S. midterm elections are about one issue: President Donald Trump. While Trump isn’t on the ballot, voters will look back on the last two years under Trump and decide whether to stay the course, or to re-shape Congress for the next two years.

Trump’s approval ratings, around 42 percent, are near the lowest of any president at this point in his term since 1945, according to Gallup polling data. The less popular the president, the more seats his party tends to lose.

But Trump has given his base a lot to be excited about, including the approval of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, increased military budgets, roll-backs of environmental regulations, and an excellent economy. Many of those criteria, though, are also motivating Democrats, particularly around issues of sexual harassment and gender roles raised by Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings, as well as environmental issues and electoral reform.

The tighter the race, the more important effective political commercials become. Motivating even one voter to pull a lever for their candidate can make a difference in whether an ad is deemed effective, and whether a candidate wins their race.

Investigations, Investigations, Investigations

Even if only one chamber of Congress goes to Democrats, Trump could face increased difficulty in dealing with Congress to get his agenda passed.  Major legislation passed would likely be dead in the water as a result of the Congressional split. Further, Trump and his administration would likely face new or re-energized investigations by Congressional committees that would switch to Democratic control.

Those investigations could include whether the Trump campaign colluded with a Russian effort to undermine the 2016 election, and would be more likely to investigate President Trump’s financial and business dealings. A Democratic House could feel it has a mandate to begin the process of impeaching Trump. Certainly, Democrats are focused on these issues, and many of the voice overs in their political commercials address suspicions of and a strong desire to investigate Trump’s history, relationships and finances.

About Political Voice Talent

At PoliticalVoiceTalent.com, we’re expert in recording political voice overs, and we can get started right away. If you need assistance in casting the right voice for your campaign, we’re happy to help with suggestions. Please, get in touch with us and let us know what you need!

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What’s At Stake: Democratic Candidates in 2018

fighting Democrat donkey

There is a lot up for grabs in the 2018 mid-term election, causing record levels of special interest and campaign spending on political advertising. Many states and congressional districts are seeing and hearing more political commercials than ever before, as the election is being seen as a referendum on the President and both political parties.

All 435 House seats are up for election; Republicans have 236 and Democrats have 193, with 6 empty seats to be filled.  Thirty-six governorships are being contested. And it plays out against the dramatic political battle over Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

The stakes have never been higher for the Democratic Party.

Congress: Blue Wave?

Republicans currently comprise a majority of both House and Senate. This November, 35 Senate seats and 435 House seats are up for election. Senate Republicans have the slight majority with 51 seats over Democrats’ 47 (as well as two independents who frequently vote with the Democrats).

There’s been some talk of a “wave election,” which happens when there is a large shift from one party to the other, both in popular votes and in congressional seats.

While there is no technical definition for a “wave,” Democrats need to flip 24 Republican House seats and keep the 194 they currently hold in order to gain control of the House.  In the Senate, they need to keep 25 and gain at least two new seats.

Races for Senate seats will be especially heated, but even House races could present a tough challenge for Republicans to hold, despite New York Times reporting that redistricting has made it particularly difficult for Democrats this election.

Governorships Up for Grabs

Democrats and their Super PACs, including MoveOn.org believe that they will be competitive in places where Democrats have not been competitive in decades.  Gubernatorial battlegrounds in 2018 include highly-visible open-seat races in several key 2020 battleground states with outgoing Republican governors, including Nevada, Florida, Michigan and Ohio. And republican incumbents appear to be in danger in Maryland, New Mexico, Wisconsin, and Illinois.

Record out-of-state spending on political commercials is happening on behalf of Democrat and Republican candidates for governor. $1.9 billion is expected to be spent on online ads alone by special interest groups in 2018. In New Mexico alone, outside interest groups have spent more than 70% of the $185 million in ad dollars spent in support of the Democratic candidate.

The Trump Effect

Democrats are “fired up”. They’ve raised more money than ever before for a midterm election, outpacing Republican fundraising by threefold.  Democrat candidates are angry at President Trump, and their supporters are ready to support them in defending what they perceive as Trump’s attacks on their communities.

Their political ads defend education, health care as a human right, and fair immigration policy, and (perhaps ironically) attack the political system as being corrupted by political campaign spending and outside special interest groups. And the effort is coordinated nationally. MoveOn and other super PACs have spent $270 million, and there’s still a month left before the election.

Diversity in Government

Not only are Democrat candidates angry, they’re also younger and more diverse than ever before. And their political advertising shows it. Voices heard in political commercials this cycle have been female, noticeably urban, frequently friendly rather than intimidating. Certainly, the right political voice will increase in appeal when a sympathetic voice appeals to voters’ social and economic concerns.

The Democrats have 100 candidates running in House seats, more than 75% of whom are not white males. Women and minorities – who don’t fit the typical mold of politician – are beating incumbent candidates in primaries, and expect to make big impacts in the general election. In many cases, these candidates were supported by large ad campaigns featuring women’s voices and voice overs rarely heard in politics before: noticeably urban and Latino voices – including those or prominent film and voice actors – are being heard in political commercials in 2018.

 

About Political Voice Talent

At PoliticalVoiceTalent.com, we’re expert in recording political voice overs, and we can get started right away. If you need assistance in casting the right voice for your campaign, we’re happy to help with suggestions. Please, get in touch with us and let us know what you need!

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Modern Political Advertising Requires Trusted Voices

donkey and elephant icons at microphone

What makes a voice over in a political commercial compelling, interesting, and trustworthy?

Political scientists tell us that political advertising is only marginally effective.  Then why do campaigns make political commercials? Because even the slimmest margin in a winner-take=all political race makes a huge difference.

Political literature also tells us that the most effective political ads share common elements: They’re brief and to the point; they attempt to build trust in the candidate or issue; and they raise and answer questions , compelling voters to choose a side.

Short and Sweet

Television viewers have been trained to digest content in 30- and 60-second clips. This format was the standard – and still is – for most television advertising, including political commercials. Even as the advertising industry tells us that 15-second ads are nearly as effective as 3-0-second ones at half the cost, it continues to promote the longer ad. But think of it this way: people’s attention span is short and getting shorter.  You have 8 second to grab their attention before they go to another website. So it’s critical to get your message across very quickly.

A compelling voice over in your campaign ad can be the difference between an ad that grabs web visitors’ attention and one that doesn’t.  Making complicated issues and information make sense in 15 second or less is not easy – but the payoff for the extra effort used in creating a shorter ad is a more engaged audience.

Build Trust Through Transparency

Voters want to connect with their candidates in a way that makes them feel like they know the person the candidate really is. Their vote is valuable to them, and they don’t want to give it to just anybody.  This is one way that biographical ads are effective; they give the voter “insider” information or expertise they feel they need to make a good voting choice.

Winning votes is largely a popularity contest:  Voters choose who they like over who can prove having voters’’ best interests at heart. Counter-intuitive?  Sure. But tried and true. Biographical ads or personality pieces can portray the candidate as honest, friendly, or experienced, and create a feeling of trust.

Giving voters an inside look at whom the candidate is, voters believe they understand candidates’ personalities and philosophies better than through policy ads.  And a great way to deliver that personality is through effective political voice overs.  The right political voice actor can present a candidate in a way that his or her own voice might not.

Motivating Voters Through Online Advertising

Online political advertising and social content isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Google and the Federal Election Commission estimate that $1.9 billion will be spent on online ads alone for the midterm election season. But certainly, not all of that money is spent wisely by political campaigns.

With social media, email, and website content being so critical to shaping political  opinions and creating a cohesive, actionable message, it’s critical that the political ads campaigns use be produced for online use as well as traditional media.

For reputable, trustworthy, motivational voices, choose a voice over actor from PoliticalVoiceTalent.com.

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Political Commercials Aren’t Just for TV and Radio

"a paid political announcement"

Connecting to Voters in 2018 Means Connecting Online

We Americans commonly, collectively assume that voters feel connected to political candidates before they vote for them. Certainly, the Democratic and Republican parties both have stepped up their effort to align themselves with voters in digital advertising and social media in recent elections.

Candidates use data to target specific constituencies, plan ad buys to target specific demographics, and tailoring outreach campaigns to target specific online properties – just as campaign managers have been targeting specific TV programs for decades to attract some groups of voters. One can even argue that this online, social dynamic is changing political parties and their platforms (and whether it’s for the better is for each voter to decide).

Social Media and Politics

Using technology in campaigns isn’t a new phenomenon. Clearly, mobile communications, social networks, and websites were used successfully in 2008 to propel Barack Obama to the White House. Political analysts suggest that Obama’s “Change” campaign created a sense of connection among voters that hadn’t existed before they connected using technology.

While there’s no telling how closely the administration actually governed to its adherents’ philosophies, it’s apparent that people were excited and engaged by the use of online content and social platforms, and that some voters have come to expect that level of engagement (and suggest that this is an area where Hillary Clinton fell short, while Donald Trump was aptly able to create emotion, excitement, and energy with his Tweets and other social content.

Political Video Ads Online

Very recent campaigns have melded social media with effective political campaign ads. Trump utilized video clips from his rousing public rallies to generate video content that could be presented as ads on websites. The idea that TV ads brought candidates straight into voters’ living rooms has leaped to the web, where candidates can be in notifications,  text links, audio and video on a constant basis.

Voters may not learn a lot from watching election videos, but they do pay attention to them, so it’s critical for campaigns to choose the right political voice over artist to attract and keep voters’ attention and stick in their memory.

Of all the voices out there, there are only a few dozen voice-over artists whose voices appear in the majority of U.S. political ads. That’s why PoliticalVoiceTalent.com works with voice over actors who have built reputations for effective commercials.

With the average 8 seconds you have to get a voter’s attention online, you need an effective, memorable political voice.

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Going Negative in Political Ads: Does It Work?

Grover Cleveland attacked in poliitcal cartoon for protectionist tariffs in 1888.

Are negative political commercials and attack ads useful?

With the sheer volume of negative political ads that voters are exposed to in hotly-contested political campaigns, one might assume that negative ads work. They must work to motivate voters, or persuade voters, or educate voters, since they’re so commonplace.

But recent political campaigns have shown that negative campaigning is no more effective at winning votes than positive messaging, although voters do remember negative ads more than positive ones. That is, both positive and negative political ads can be effective, if done well. Choosing the right political voice to relate to and persuade voters is likely more important than whether the ad is issue-oriented or an attack on a candidate’s character.

Negativity is in the Eye (or Ear) of the Beholder

Evidence is building that negative political ads can motivate voters to vote for the campaign advertiser, especially in cases of extreme partisan loyalty and in very close elections, where partisan messaging becomes a more common theme. Voters with a strong party affiliation and a deep interest in the campaign tend to be more tolerant of negative messaging than non-partisans, rallying to their candidate when he or she attacks the opponent on the opposing side.

In fact, all voters – even those who say they do not like negative discourse – are more responsive to negative commercials than they are to positive ones. Responsiveness to the ad could mean support for the ad sponsor, or just the opposite – a backlash against negativity. For these people, negative ads may work, provided they’re focused on the issues, not the opposing candidate’s reputation.

Policy vs. Personal Attacks

Voters tend to separate a campaign ad’s tone from whether they believe it to be informative. That is, many voters will think of a campaign ad as negative but also think that it contains relevant, truthful information.  So, negative yet policy-oriented ads may be a good strategy for tight races.

The tendency to “go negative” increases in close races, as well as big-budget campaigns.  The bigger the ad spend for the campaign, the more likely it is the campaign will be a negative one. This, too, seems to support the idea that negative ads help in some situations.

In recent elections, there are some signs that overwhelming attacks on the credibility of a candidate can cause voters to stay home who support the candidate who’s being attacked. A perfect example of this is the Trump v. Clinton campaign for president in 2016. Trump ran no positive ads, focusing mainly on Clinton’s scandals and on tarnishing her reputation. One could argue that all that negative advertising caused Clinton’s voters to refrain from voting or that Trump motivated his base to turn out, or both.

Independent Voters Are Less Swayed by Negativity

There is one group that political science research shows are not swayed by negative ads:  independent voters. With the increasing importance of independent and swing voters in national elections, campaign staff would be well advised to consider the content and tone of their ads. Do they want to go negative and alienate voters from the “other” party? Or alienate those critical independent voters?

Here at PoliticalVoiceTalent.com, we can help you decide the tone and content of your message, and find the perfect voice over talent for your ad campaign. Whether it’s a positive issue-oriented campaign or the strategy is to attack the opponent, an experienced political voice over actor will provide the impact you’re looking for.

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What Goes Info Making an Effective Political Campaign Ad?

Here at PoliticalVoiceTalent.com, we’ve seen all kinds of political advertisements. Negative. Positive. Factual. Non-factual. Effective. Un-effective. We believe first and foremost that the voice of the commercial is most important: Is it relatable? Local? Trustworthy? Our professional political voice over actors provide the voice for political ads on a national, state, or local basis.

We know what goes into the best political ads. Here are the key elements to a successful political commercial, and to choosing a voice for your radio or TV ad campaign.

Emotion

Political campaigns want to stir up emotion to compel you to vote – and to vote for their candidate. Political ads can be designed to make you happy about your current situation, or angry, or feel safe (or unsafe) or elicit approval (or disapproval) of the candidate.

Political ads often use imagery associated with children to build positive or sympathetic emotion in voters. Other ways to build positive feelings include imagery associated with financial success or lifestyle. Typically, eliciting positive emotions is a tactic used by incumbents.

On the other hand negative emotions (especially fear) can be used to compel a voter to vote for a candidate – often an insurgent. Playing on fears – of insecurity, whether financial, governmental, or familial – can be an effective way to get attention. Fear and other negative emotions can backfire, though, and create the type of anxiety that might case voters to want to stay at home on Election Day.

Our expert voice-over actors know how to create urgency and expertise, and we can help find the right political voice for your particular campaign.

Persuasiveness (Trust)

You know the old saw… No one trusts politicians. And that remains a reality in the Unites States’ electoral system today, though sometimes it seems people do trust politicians: they trust the incumbent to serve their interests, or they trust an insurgent to provide the representation they’ve been lacking.

Building trust means not relying just on the words of the candidate, but on their record (or that of their opponent). Using reliable, reputable third-party source to back claims made in your ads is a great way to build trust and persuade voters to align themselves with your candidate

Frequently, celebrities are used to endorse politicians and to attract some voters. Finding a leading celebrity to espouse a cause may be prohibitively expensive, though, unless the celebrity is willing to provide their name, image or voice free of charge. Equally as frequent are celebrity actors in ads whose credibility on the campaign or issues is in doubt.

A professional political voice actor with experience in political ads of all kinds – negative, positive, dramatic or fact-based – can provide the vocal trustworthiness you need to create a compelling political ad.

Facts vs. Truth

Political ads frequently make claims about the state of government or society, or the actions of their opponents. But voters rarely fact-check; they are inclined to align with the candidate who is most persuasive or who appeals most to them emotionally. The claims their candidates make are rarely questioned by supporters.

We’ve even seen recent campaigns where what candidates and their supporters have “chosen to believe” in a position or viewpoint, or firmly adhere to what they “believe to be true”, and those views or beliefs may not be rooted in facts at all.

Because voters rarely fact-check, claims are frequently accepted at face value. While political wonks and journalists may use Factchecker.com or Snopes, making effective claims has little to do with facts or truth. Rather, the claim must be sold effectively.  Effective political ads’ voices make candidates’ claims on their behalf, using a voice that might be recognizable, trusted, or persuasive based on the actor’s range, style, and techniques.

Style

How a political ad uses imagery or sound uncovers stylistic choices that the ad creators made while scripting and editing the advertisement. This is true also of the political voice over, where the vocal style should complement the content and creative approach to the ad.

The commercial’s soundtrack might include the voice-over, sound effects, music, speech snippets from candidates, and other background noise. None of the techniques used in creating political ad recordings is accidental or random; each image or sound in an ad contributes to the overall desired effect, just as in cinematic or musical productions.

PoliticalVoiceTalent.com can help identify the right political voice, as well as help with techniques to create a compelling and unforgettable political ad style – one that engages voters, and gets them out to vote for your candidate.