Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Super Sunday, Super Tuesday

Super Sunday, Super Tuesday: Football In The Way Of Campaigning

Has anyone else noticed that the Feb. 5 mega-primary is two days after the 2008 Super Bowl? Why does this matter?

  • Real People who do not live, sleep, eat and breathe politics will be distracted. Sunday nights are a great time to catch people at home, but in this case, the whole critical two-days-out evening is shot for campaigning and phone banking. Will some campaign, in crunch-time isolation from the real world, be dumb and call into San Diego when the Chargers are third and goal?

  • With the first de facto national primary, a Super Bowl ad might be a good buy -- or would it? The first rule they teach you when you campaign in Iowa is don't door-knock during the Hawkeye game, and a political ad could be seen as an unwanted intrusion. Jim Nussle ran ads during the Hawkeyes last year, to a huge statewide audience and to no avail. To get past that "I'm in my leisure time" barrier, a Super Bowl political spot would have to be fun and creative to the gold standard level of most Super Bowl ads. The Bill Richardson job interview spot was catchy by the standard of political ads, but it wasn't Super Bowl, cultural catch phrase, wardrobe malfunction water cooler memorable.

    (Richardson, by the bye, made a baseball error when he declared himself a fan of both the Red Sox and the Yankees. Any fan will tell you it is metaphysically impossible to support both sides of an arch-rivalry like the Red Sox and Yankees, or the Bears and Packers. Worse: he said it to the Boston Globe.)

  • NFL audiences normally lean somewhat Republican -- not as much as NASCAR, says demographics firm Scarborough Research, but noticeably. The classic communication study "Super Bowl: Mythic Spectacle" by Michael Real touches on all sorts of psychology -- use of force, coaching authoritarianism, military metaphor, women as spectators and not as participants, and social Darwinism. These usual partisan and gender leanings are muted somewhat by the sheer size of the Super Bowl audience, as non-fans watch their one game of the year at parties or just "for the ads."

  • The game is in McCain's Arizona.

  • Compared to other pro sports, and by design, the NFL is more volatile from year to year as to which teams make the playoffs. So it's impossible to predict which teams will be a factor. Looking only at last year's playoff teams, the biggest political impact would be a San Diego Chargers vs. New York Giants game affecting three primary states (as the Giants play in New Jersey) and three candidates (Hillary Clinton, Rudy Giuliani, Duncan Hunter).

  • Obama's Monday Night Football promo plugging himself and the Chicago Bears topped the Youtube charts last fall... but as a Packer fan I'm hoping he won't be distracted by another Bears Super Bowl appearance.
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