I Am The Future and Political Consultants Should Worry

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Down here in Macon this past weekend we had the Bragg Jam. It’s a wonderful party over a weekend each year. Bands play at venues around town. The Bragg Jam is named for two brothers. Back in 1999, Brax Bragg was on the verge of musical stardom and hit the road with younger brother Tate, a highly regarded guitarist. They were headed cross country and were killed in a tragic car accident.

The Bragg Jam was founded in their honor and, outside of the Cherry Blossom Festival, the Bragg Jam may be one of the biggest draws in Middle Georgia.

I forgot it was Bragg Jam weekend until last Friday, when it started. I had to go downtown to Robinson Home to get a new meat injector and saw the posters. All this plays into why I am the future and politicians should worry.

It has nothing to do with partisanship and everything to do with voter outreach.

My wife and I surrendered our cable box, though I keep a DirecTV account. We can get almost everything we want off an Apple TV. We have a Netflix account and use iTunes for shows. I have an MLB account for baseball watching and assume the SEC will one day save me with live streaming college football. But there is no local television at all, ever.

I live stream Fox News and CNN via my computer and iPad with DirecTV more than I watch on an actual television.

I don’t listen to local radio in Macon. If I’m in Atlanta, I’ll listen to WSB during the day, as it carries Rush live. Otherwise, I listen online to SirusXM, which does not really carry advertising except if I’m listening to broadcast channels.

I read selected articles from the local paper online when I can. We do not have a print subscription to any papers. I keep online subscriptions to the Wall Street Journal and New York Times to help with radio show prep. But most of my news comes off the internet via twitter, Google News, Drudge, etc.

I also use a Flash and ad blocker. Flash does not load on my screen and ads get blocked. I don’t see them.

About the only way to get to me as a voter these days is by putting something in my mailbox, calling me on the phone, or showing up at my door. It is nearly impossible to target me online, on television, or on radio. Micro-targeting has become vastly harder.

Now, most people will not block advertising and Flash on their computer, but more and more are heading that way and Apple is making it even easier to shut down advertising with their updated systems. Certainly it is easier to attempt to reach me online, than on television, radio, and newspaper. But it is still hard.

The effect on me is that I have less of a connection to events in my community that rely on local advertising. If I’m not hearing about it from friends or my church community, I probably won’t know it happened until I read an online news article about it after the fact.

If a candidate does not show up at my door, I have to educate myself about who is running. And that is where I am not the future. I suspect fewer and fewer people will do that.

The internet has made it so that I can disconnect from most of what is around me and curate my world to my likes and interests. That has made it a whole lot harder for politicians to get to me.

Because I pay attention to politics, that is not a terribly bad thing. But because most people don’t, though they too are headed toward a more disconnected, online world, it is going to be harder and harder for politicians to micro-target future voters.

I am the future in that regard and political consultants should worry. Ironically, the future looks a lot like the 18th century where people relied vastly more on their network of friends and church for information, opinion, and opinion shaping. Mass, simultaneous communication that we all experienced in the late twentieth century looks more like an anomaly than the future. The means of communicating may have changed, but the sources of information have regressed and will continue as more and more people tune out the mass media to regulate the flow of conversation, entertainment, and news at their own pace.

About the author

Erick Erickson
By Erick Erickson

Erick Erickson

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