Thursday, August 2, 2007

Name Recognition: The Name of the Game for Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin

Question: So what's it like contacting hundreds of people as you seek support for Sarah for V-P on the Republican ticket?

Me: It's something like being a door-to-door Bible salesman in a neighborhood full of agnostics. However, agnostics need the Bible also -- it's just that they don't know what they, well, don't know. To know who Sarah is what's she accomplished is the beginning of a revelation about her political potential.

Question: What's the tipping point in getting people to sign up to support Sarah?

Me: If they read the Fred Barnes article on her in The Weekly Sandard -- "The Most Popular Governor" -- it will get them very interested. The Most Popular Governor (on blogroll).

Then, if they read the Wikipedia article on Sarah (on blogroll) and visit (on blogroll), a light will go on, and they'll get very excited about this spendid woman's candidacy.


To continue (briefly) yesterday's theme about money and politics: early this a.m. on CBS News, Jeff Greenfield, who has his moments (but not enough of them), presented a story about second-tier candidates. He featured Mike Huckabee.

Mike's a Republican, but he has some "Arkansas populist" elements -- just as Sarah Palin has some "Alaska populist" qualities. Specifically, Mike said conservatives needed to be much more concerned about two things: (1) preserving the environment; (2) preventing the corporate greed that results in the loss of American jobs. He's dead right on both counts. The points are important, but they may cause some conservative eyes to glaze over.

Why isn't Mike getting more "traction" and better results in the national polls? One reason is that he -- interestingly, like the well-heeled Mitt Romney -- is focusing on specific states, especially Iowa and South Carolina. The main reason for his low poll numbers, however, is that he's just not well-known. Granted, he's well-known on this site and among the Huckabee-Palin supporters. But he's not widely recognized beyond our small groups.

Senator Dick Lugar, one of the least charismatic figures in American politics, put it this way: before you start to do well in the polls, people have to know your name.

Human brains aren't infinitely elastic. They avoid getting overloaded by blocking out everything, including politicians' names, that don't seem essential. In other words, people's minds may have room for the names "Hillary and Barack," as well as "Rudy and Mitt (or Fred)," but they only grudgingly give up room for "Mike (Huckabee) and Bill (Richardson)."

Greenfield put it well. In order to raise money, you must have good name recognition. But in order to get name recognition, you have to raise (and spend) money. That paradox wouldn't be a problem for, say, "Mike" Bloomberg, who's worth billions. It is a major problem for Mike Huckabee, a man of modest means.

Many of us think Mike Huckabee probably would be a very good President. Sadly, we may not get a chance to find out. I don't say that to discourage some terrific people who are supporting this fine man. I'm just saying that political and financial realities can be cruel ones.

How does this relate to my favorite concern: the candidacy of Sarah Palin? Like Mike Huckabee, Sarah doesn't exactly have great name recognition. As the American people who the governor of Alaska is and perhaps 95% of them will draw a blank.

That's why it's hard going at times to recruit Palin supporters and volunteers. As she becomes better known, it will get somewhat easier. Raising money isn't a problem, because no one is trying to do so.

The best selling point we have is Sarah herself. She's an extremely attractive candidate, a person of great character, decency, and drive. When people take a good look at her, they soon realize that her candidacy makes perfect sense.

(Important Note: In my "trolling for Sarah" activity -- seeking supporters -- I get to see many -- many, many -- blogs, some of which are absolutely outstanding. Among them are Pink Flamingo (Cindy), Cobb, Gay Patriot, Strata, and Big Lizard, all of them linked on the blogroll. None of these bloggers is (yet) in the "4 Palin" camp, although Cindy seems to be leaning strongly in that direction. One of the sites -- Cobb's -- is the product of an important Black (moderate conservative) activist. Gay Patriot reflects the efforts of two gay (conservative) activists. Pink Flamingo is a blog that demonstrates how to build political coalitions. As time goes on, I want to increase awareness of blogs, especially those by "non-traditional" Republicans/conservatives, that deserve attention by everyone committed to re-establishing the Movement on a more sustainable basis. At some point today, I'll post a short piece on "Cobb," whose blog I urge you to visit. Any political coalition worthy of the name doesn't consist of people who agree on every issue.)

Following is some biographical information from "Cobb's" blog. I'll continue the discussion tomorrow regarding what his blog does:

"Michael David Cobb Bowen is the political & cultural blogger 'Cobb'. He writes from the perspective of a moderate conservative Republican representing the 'Old School' of African American culture and values. In his 15 year career of writing as a poet and essayist he has been called the Ralph Ellison [author of "The Invisible Man" and other works] of his generation.Bowen was raised in middle-class black Los Angeles the oldest of five children by Catholic and Episcopalian parents who worked civil service jobs and engaged in grass roots political activism. He attended Catholic schools and went on to pursue his degree in Computer Science after a distinguished high school career and a series of odd -- including union -- jobs. In college he was twice elected National Finance Officer of the National Society of Black Engineers. He went on to work for the Xerox Systems Group, Pilot Executive Software, Arbor Software and his own consultancies. He is currently a Data Architect for a major US consultancy specializing in Business Intelligence and Sarb[anes]-Ox[ley] compliant systems. He is a free-lance writer of note in internet circles. Never far from issues of race, politics and culture he has written extensively in public online spaces since 1993 from The Well to Cafe Utne where he was host of the Society Conference. He is the author of many controversial websites including Boohab's Factotum and the Race Man's Home Companion. Today, he is a Large Mammal and member of the Bear Flag League of conservative California bloggers. His current projects include Vision Circle, a black progressive group blog and XRepublic, a model for a virtual parliament. Most notably, he is the founder of The Conservative Brotherhood whose 15 blogging authors have become the de facto voice of the Black Conservatism online."

As a Palin Movement coordinator, I want to emphasize that we want the support of people like The Conservative Brotherhood. We want to win, and we realize that doing so means helping people like Cobb and others in the "Brotherhood" realize their aspirations.


D.Roman said...

You make a great point, keep it up.

Stephen R. Maloney said...

Thanks D. R. Very glad to have you on board with Sarah Palin. I was delighted to see Mike's response to his "supporter" who went overboard.