Will the consulting industry diversify its leadership?
Most firms believe that they are doing enough to promote diversity. In fact, 84 percent of the respondents in C&E’s inaugural State of the Campaign Industry Survey, conducted by PSB Research, said as much.
But that survey from early 2019 also found 54 percent of female respondents said the industry is a “hostile work environment for women.” And it can also be hostile to practitioners from diverse backgrounds. Half of the political professionals (48%) surveyed said they have “witnessed or encountered racism” in the campaign industry.
Doug Thornell, who leads SKDKnickerbocker’s political consulting department, called for the industry to address its diversity problem last summer.
“It’s not lost on me that there are virtually no African American political ad makers on the Democratic side,” he told C&E. “I think we, as Democrats, need to change that and make the consulting world look more like the Democratic Party.”
With the electorate’s share of non-white voters expected to be the largest in history in 2020, it’s an opportune time for firms to diversify their leadership.
Who will get hacked and how prepared will they be?
When C&E polled a cross-section of practitioners in early 2019, among the biggest concerns was hacking and foreign election interference tainting the 2020 campaign. In fact, the vast majority of consultants (87%) think it is likely that one or both major-party presidential campaigns will be hacked during the 2020 general election, according to C&E’s industry survey.
Cybersecurity vendors and major tech companies like Microsoft have pushed their services throughout 2019 — in some cases for free or low cost. But experts working in the campaign industry know that preparations remain woeful.
To wit, a recent analysis from Twilio, which has counted the DNC as a client, found that almost half of the 2020 presidential field’s email programs were vulnerable to having their domains spoofed. Whether consultant, staff or candidate, someone will surely forget to double-check an email sender and click that link. It’s just a question of who that’ll be.
What kind of campaign will the Democratic presidential nominee run?
Joe Biden is leading his party’s field in national polls, many of the surveys from early primary/caucus states and currently stands as the favorite to win his party's nomination. But one category the Biden campaign is trailing badly in is digital spending.
ACRONYM, the Democratic digital firm that maintains a helpful 2020 dashboard, has the former VP in 7th when it comes to spending on Facebook and Google. That mid-pack position is more alarming considering the gap between Biden and the Sanders campaign in 6th is nearly $4 million.
Now, the duopoly isn’t the only place digital marketing dollars can go. The Biden campaign is reportedly investing in OTT spots on Hulu in Iowa — an early adopter of what could be an important channel in 2020.
Still, Biden’s lowly position is the Google-Facebook spending race — despite a headline-making early investment — cedes the conversation on those platforms to President Trump and big-spending outsider candidates unlikely to become the eventual Democratic nominee.
If the campaign’s ad strategy pays off and he succeeds in winning the Democratic nomination, how inclined will his campaign’s brain trust be to alter that in the general?