Large Democratic Presidential Field Spurs Heavy Use of Political Lists

Presidential election years are the busiest time for managers of political lists, but this year is shaping up as even more hectic than normal because of the deep field of candidates running for the Democratic nomination.

“List usage will pick up dramatically during a presidential election year and somewhat during midterm elections,” said Steve Kehrli, vice president of list management at Names in the News, Oakland, CA, which manages several liberal and progressive lists as well as non-political nonprofit files.

“It has increased even more so during this cycle because of the numerous Democratic candidates vying for the nomination, very similarly to 1992,” he said.

Another political list manager said she was experiencing a similar trend.

“On the Democrats' side there were so many people out trying to raise money that usage increased quite a bit,” said Dodee M. Black, president/chief operating officer of Atlantic List Co. Inc., Arlington, VA, which handles several Republican and conservative lists as well as some Democratic files.

“With all this primary frenzy, we have had calls from several Democratic candidates,” she said.

Black said she has seen a lot of activity with both major parties having several successful packages in the mail right now. Telemarketing seemed down from the last election cycle, which she attributed to the national no-call list despite the exemption for political calls.

The rise in political list use is attributable not just to presidential candidates, Black said, as advocacy and lobbying groups are picking up their mail volume, too.

To illustrate a similar point, Kehrli cited increases in order volume in a few areas aside from candidates and political organizations. Advocacy groups representing issues such as civil rights, privacy concerns, reproductive rights, corporate reform and religious liberty have increased mail volume by 33 percent to more than 100 percent while also increasing frequency, he said.

Progressive publications are another big growth area, with some doubling order volume.

“This market really took off about halfway into this presidency,” Kehrli said. “Some of the lists within this market have already doubled in file size in the last couple years. Based on these numbers it would seem there's a real hunger for this type of independent reporting.”

It appears these mailers are capitalizing on issues that get a lot of attention leading up to a presidential election. The item to note after the election will be how many of the new donors or subscribers acquired will stay active in 2005 compared with those who joined just this year to help put a Democrat back in the White House, Kehrli said.

Meanwhile, Black also credited an improving economy for part of the rise in orders.

“I think that mailing has picked up because of the economy as much as part of the natural progression of it being an election year,” she said. “It's a bit of both.”

Black predicted that strong list use would continue for much of the year, slowing by late summer as the election nears.

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