If the first two weeks are any indication, the next 12 months are going to be wild.
A presidential election in the United States, and some 50 other contests around the globe, are taking place during a period of global economic uncertainty, civil unrest, war, technological innovation and environmental changes.
It’s a recipe with an unpredictable end result, although that didn’t stop this group of 11 consultants from looking into the future and sharing what they see about everything from AI to fundraising to down-ballot races in ’24:
Morgan Bonwell, Founder, Right Strategies
In the wild world of politics, AI is sliding into 2024 like a savvy strategist with a bag of data tricks. Picture this: algorithms crunching numbers, sculpting messages with surgical precision. Sounds like a game-changer, right? Well, it is, but not without its ethical tangles. AI, being the brainchild of its human creators, can unwittingly amplify biases lurking in its training data. Imagine unintentionally turning political campaigns into echo chambers of the same old tunes. But there’s more to this AI political drama. Attribution becomes a slippery slope.
As AI systems start spewing out recommendations, it’s like having a ghostwriter in the room. Who gets the credit—or blame—for those campaign gems? Keeping things transparent is vital to avoid sowing confusion among voters. After all, trust in politics is shaky enough without adding an AI mystery into the mix.
And here’s the kicker: while AI promises to turbocharge productivity, it might just cramp a candidate’s style. In a world where tweets are dissected faster than you can say “policy reform,” the challenge is to blend AI wizardry with a dash of good old-fashioned clarity. The risk? Getting lost in the complexity of algorithms and drowning out the heartbeat of a candidate’s message.
So as AI steps onto the political stage, we’re left wondering: who’s pulling the strings, and can a machine really capture the essence of politics? In this technological world, it’s only fitting that the algorithm penned this piece.
Kara Turrentine, SVP, The Pivot Group
2024 will remain about the kitchen table issues we know well and we’re going to see individual freedom, abortion, and the personal economy continue to have an outsized impact on voter motivation. This is an enormous signal for campaigns to invest in the personalization of messaging and surgical targeting. It will be more important than ever to fight through the noise and past voter apathy to win in the margins.
I think we’ll see more creative integrations between hyper-targeted communications such as direct mail, digital and texting to achieve these goals. This effort will also become a frontline issue on the frontier of AI’s impact on political communications and the growing need to maintain the integrity of political content.
Eric Wilson, Managing Partner, Startup Caucus
In 2024, the most effective campaigns will be those that figure out the challenge of platform and media fragmentation. Based on the Center for Campaign Innovation’s latest survey following the 2023 Virginia elections, the era of broadcast and cable TV unifying the electorate are long gone. Each voter’s media habits are as unique as they are – even within a single household. There are dozens of streaming and social media platforms that voters use regularly.
Unfortunately for campaigners, there’s no blueprint yet and it’s going to take experimentation. Some combination of relational organizing, broader digital buying, influencer marketing, and AI-assisted content creation will ultimately be the answer.
Campaigns need to reach voters in more places and the only way to achieve this scale is through technology and the leverage it affords.
Cheryl Hori, Founder, Pacific Campaign House
States, the FEC, and advertising platforms won’t be able to keep up with the advancements in AI — but the savviest consultants will.
As we approach 2024, only 3 states have enacted laws to regulate AI, Meta has declared a vague policy around AI disclaimers (you’ll need a disclaimer “unless the AI is inconsequential or immaterial to the claim, assertion, or issue raised in the ad”), and the FEC is still considering regulations.
But while the powers that be get their houses in order, consultants face a once-in-a-generation opportunity to push the boundaries before the crackdown. This, of course, opens our Democracy up to a potential litany of misinformation, which could contribute to the ongoing breakdown of truth and facts in our national political discourse. That being said, AI can also enable truly creative and innovative storytelling — that doesn’t aim to deceive the audience into thinking it’s authentic.
Nick J. Daggers, Partner, The 1833 Group
2023 was a crazy year on Capitol Hill and on the campaign trail. 2024 will likely continue that trend.
On the fundraising front, Democrats will continue to see depressed donations from small-dollar donors. On both sides of the aisle, we’ll see campaigns rely less on SUPER PACs in the wake of Ron DeSantis’ over-reliance on a Super PAC to [bolster] his presidential campaign. Also, when it comes to campaign money, I fully expect the fundraising prowess of candidates running against “boogeymen” and candidates with incredible viral videos will begin to dry up as donors continue to become fed up with wasting money on races that can not be won i.e., Marcus Flowers against MTG or on the GOP side Kimberly Klacik against Kweisi Mfume…
With all of that said, we’ll see another cycle of record-breaking campaign spending in the battle for the House, the Senate, and the White House. The money will continue to flow to incumbents and the top-tier races while underdog challengers fight for the scraps.
Brian Derrick, Founder/CEO, Oath
In 2024, email and text fundraising will hit a wall as donors become increasingly frustrated by spam. More digital fundraising will move to social media where younger candidates with large platforms and influential supporters will generate the most interest. Disillusioned by the top of the ticket, young people will fuel a focus on down-ballot races where a record number of Millennial + Gen Z candidates will be elected.
Despite at least one major story on AI, this will really be the election of influencer marketing with more content creators directly participating in campaigns than ever before. Social media platforms will issue new rules in an attempt to increase transparency of sponsored political messaging. We will also see the log jam break on TikTok and more elected officials will join the platform, although many will still publicly call for a crackdown — including the Biden campaign.
Third-party candidates will receive more votes than any election since Ross Perot. Man City will lose the Premier League title to Tottenham.
Tom Dunn, Creative Director, Narrative Strategies
Ahead of the 2024 election, regulatory agencies will go into rulemaking overdrive with only the threat of electoral repercussions standing in their way. Advertisers with impact will have to think smarter and different. Shops who have put the work in to guard against cookie depreciation — and still soundly reach key decision makers — will be the ones to win these fights, while those with postponed or poor planning will find trouble scaling.
Custom tech-stacks that smartly deploy multi-channel campaigns across traditional and non-traditional mediums are already forcing creatives to think differently about mastering persuasion. Effective creative is usually disruptive. But what might be considered disruptive to a creative professional should no longer be considered effective across all parts of a fragmented media consumption landscape. The common denominator will be an unmistakably succinct message that will achieve measurable recall goals.
Genevieve Wilkins, EVP, Creative, ROKK Solutions
2024 came in with a rumble and tumble. Not only did we have a 2.3 magnitude earthquake in DC and its surrounding suburbs, but award-winning comedian and actor Kat Williams broke the internet with a 2-hour and 46-minute disclosure interview on Pro Football Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe’s “Club Shay Shay” YouTube channel.
Every comedian discussed has been responding. The interview had over 35.9 million, and growing, views in just five days. Many comedians have revealed their thoughts and shared controversial stories about their peers before on social media so what makes this one so groundbreaking? Why have most of the social media discussions surrounding the interview been supportive of Williams? Why are people accepting his voice as accurate?
Williams has been doing stand-up comedy, acting in hit movies, and writing and producing his own successful Netflix specials for decades. The public has watched him grow and achieve his dreams while staying true to his authentic self. Could it be that the public sees Williams as a thought leader in his field? I think so. My prediction for 2024 is that the year will be the year of truth-telling. People will seek the authenticity and truth that thought leaders can provide. It makes sense in a disclaimer for AI-generated content and the pre-policy AI age. The universe has spoken.
Katie Harbath, Founder, Anchor Change
It will be the first AI election, but campaign use of AI will remain limited.
We’ve already seen campaigns, political parties and other organizations use artificial intelligence, but that use will remain limited throughout 2024. Much like 2008 was the first cycle where Facebook was used, it wasn’t until 2012 when tech and data became much more used by campaigns. I think we will see the same for AI. What I do think will have a huge impact on the election will be the narrative of what AI could do to impact the information environment versus what is actually happening.
The Supreme Court will play a bigger role than even in 2000.
From questions to if Trump can be on the ballot to if the tech companies and the government can engage on disinformation, the Supreme Court has a full docket of really important decisions to make that will come down in the middle of the primaries. These decisions could further inflame tensions and have huge historical consequences for this and future elections.
Down-ballot races will dominate.
With people burnt out on the news and not wild about a Biden vs. Trump match, it very well could be down-ballot races and issues, such as abortion, that will drive people to the polls. Ad Impact predicts that out of the over $10 billion expected to be spent in this cycle, a little over half will be on those races. Those reverse coattails will likely favor Biden versus Trump.
Brian Franklin, founder of Impact Politics
I think you’re going to see a bit of a collapse in the OTT/CTV DSP market. There are too many companies selling the same inventory, and with companies like LG pulling their inventory to sell directly or through designated partners like Basis, there’s not going to be as much remnant inventory floating around.
Aaron Evans, President, Winning Republican Strategies
As we move into 2024, the political landscape continues to be highly polarized. Political dialogue has evolved from debating opposing viewpoints to criticizing one another’s motives and intentions. This trend is evident across the political spectrum, with each side claiming to be the true defender of American values and democracy, often portraying the opposition as harmful to the nation. It’s crucial for political professionals on both sides to recognize and address this growing divisiveness before it becomes a problem we can’t resolve.
In the realm of technology, AI is poised to play a pivotal role in political campaigns this year. Following its significant introduction in 2023, AI is expected to integrate extensively into various campaign aspects, from digital advertising and fundraising to data analytics and creative design. The post-2024 period will likely involve a detailed analysis of AI’s impact, highlighting both its successes and areas needing improvement.
The global scene will continue to get more intense as we see our enemies coalesce together in an anti-West alliance. They will use our allies such as Ukraine, Taiwan, South Korea, and Israel to continue proving and testing us as the tensions drastically increase and make a world on the brink of war a key political issue for those of us in campaigns.
With his increased signs of aging, my prediction is that Joe Biden will not be the Democratic nominee for president. Democrats will find a way to replace him instead of losing the White House to Donald Trump – who will easily secure the Republican nomination in spite of his litany of legal issues. If they fail to make this a reality, Trump will win in the most negative campaign we have seen in modern history.
Political professionals will need to be especially agile and adaptive in this fast-evolving landscape. The key issues and public concerns are likely to shift significantly throughout the campaign, necessitating constant adjustments in messaging and strategy to stay competitive in a challenging and dynamic campaign environment. The top-line guarantee: this will not be a boring political year.