There’s buzz and there’s buzz. Scott Brown has reached the point of buzz.
Buzz is when you start reading things on like-minded blogs that generate little new enthusiasm for a candidate or issue within a demographic that was already likely on your side. Buzz is when it’s so blindingly in your face that not even the mainstream media can hide it from the undecideds. Buzz can win elections, whereas plain buzz is far less likely to have a game-changing result.
How do you go from plain buzz to real buzz? There’s clearly no set formula that always works, but there are important real life measures that we can do with little time and effort for pro-gun candidates. Unfortunately, the fact that I said they take any time and effort means that most readers here won’t bother.
First, there is an online factor, especially in the Brown race. Because this is a special election and it is able to catch the national eye, online buzz can play a role. Ultimately, it helped turn a $500,000 money bomb day into a million-dollar-plus week of daily money bombs. Even then, blogging about it or spreading a Twitter link isn’t what generates the most excitement. Excitement translates best when it takes a bit more effort. If you don’t live in Massachusetts, but you start excitedly discussing a special election there while you sit at your dining room table in Wisconsin, your family is a little more likely to wonder why you think this event is so special.
The second point is the real life factor. This is 99.9% of what drives buzz, not the online stuff. I know a guy who could probably put up 15 astro-turf websites with cool social media share features in a day. But he can’t make 20 people meet for a couple of hours on a cold morning to wave signs for a candidate at a busy intersection. In Massachusetts, your friends are more likely to take notice when you say you can’t meet up for a pre-game beer because you plan to go hang out with a politician who is going to shake hands with the fans outside of said game. It’s that extra effort that shows people this is something worth paying attention to.
Because it’s Massachusetts, you also have the polling factor that’s helping to generate buzz. Only in an extremely partisan state will you find that people getting gleeful that their minority party candidate is only down by the low double-digits, which is how the buzz started. That generated more interest by pollsters & outside organizations. Soon more numbers released showed more interest by Republicans and Independents who tuned in once they heard about this election and that it might be competitive (again, context is that might be competitive means the Democrats might not win in a double-digit blowout). The media was involved in this step, but so were Massachusetts residents who started getting more fired up. As we’ve closed in on Election Day, the polls get closer and that turns interest and murmurs into genuine “I want to know how this turns out” buzz.
All of these factors aside, there’s one common theme. Massachusetts voters started talking about this race at home. They didn’t just run online and find other conservatives. They started talking about the fact that there was an election at home. Then, they talked about the polls on the election. Now they are talking about election events, as evidenced by the overflow crowds that filled the streets of Worcester yesterday. That is the kind of activity that’s actually likely to result in lines at the polls come tomorrow.
The thing is, if you go out and wave a signs with other supporters for a couple of hours, you’re influencing people. First, all of the people who pass want to know what on earth is possessing you to stand outside and wave signs. Curiosity, it’s useful for something other than killing cats. Second, when you mention that you did that in conversation with friends, they want to know why you care enough about the candidate or issue to go stand outside.
I realize that we harp on these actual activist activities a lot, but that’s because they do work. Each little stone leaves a ripple in the lake. When the right campaign is doing its job, that enthusiasm can add up to create a landslide that turns into a tsunami. Is it hokey to go rally outside? Yes. So take your wife or husband and then go on a lunch date when you’re done. Is is awkward to call strangers at home and ask for them to support a candidate? For most of this readership, I would say very much so. But take your kid with you and then head out for ice cream afterwards. Is it a bit of work to walk a precinct reminding voters when election day is? Yes, but since your New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, pick up two precincts just to lose another notch on the belt.
Change your perspective and view these activities as part of your civic duty. Make it an errand that just needs to be done in the course of your everyday life. And just like you might tell a story about this nutcase cat lady at the grocery store, your stories might become about the guy who answered the door in only tightey whiteys (actually happened on a canned food drive walk, not a political walk) or the woman who answered the door in the ’80s rock band t-shirt and nothing else (she was a Democrat who moved here from New York). That creates buzz.
3 thoughts on “Energy for Brown Translates into Support in the Polls”
If you’re not from Maryland, try contacting these folks and letting them know that what happens in Maryland. For me, I avoid stopping in Maryland when going along I-95 because I know VA and PA will each honor my permit (and Maryland’s not all that big). That means no gas, no dinner, no tourism from me, and I pass through Maryland reasonably often.
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