At least one industry expert thinks the Democrats will have an easier time obtaining lists as direct mail fundraising campaigns gear up for the 2000 election.
According to conservative direct mail pioneer Richard Viguerie, “There are more liberal lists on the market [because] there are more liberal organizations involved in direct mail.” Viguerie has reportedly taken on the project of list rental for Rudolph Giuliani, New York City’s Republican mayor and likely candidate for U.S. Senate. He would not comment on his role in the Giuliani campaign, however.
“[The fact that there are fewer conservative lists is] a little unusual, and it shouldn’t be that way from a conservative perspective,” said Viguerie, noting that it may just be the nature of the beast. “Liberals feel that the way you solve problems is through government, the nonprofit direction. Conservatives feel that it’s better to go the for-profit way to solve problems, and so the best and the brightest of the liberals usually go into government, the nonprofit sector. As a general rule, the best and the brightest of the conservative free market people go into the private sector,” he said.
“[The liberal lists] could very well be more targeted because you have your environmental groups, and they’re very targeted,” Viguerie said. “They’re much more narrowly targeted as a general rule than conservatives are. Conservatives have some [lists that are] targeted, but there are not as many as the left.”
But another expert said that while the liberal lists are more targeted, they’re not as abundant. “I’m sure there are more conservative lists [than liberal lists],” said Hal Malchow, chairman of Malchow Adams & Hussey, Washington, a fundraising consulting firm that has worked with the Democratic National Committee. The Democratic committees have not had an especially good year, according to Malchow. But he did agree with Viguerie in the quality of the liberals’ lists. “We probably are ahead in the targeting of lists, but not in [the number of lists available],” Malchow said.
“Republicans have never been very good at prospecting,” he said. As far as voter files go, Democrats are doing things that Republicans probably aren’t – like using the Chi Automatic Interaction Detection System, a statistically based tree analysis tool, and regression analysis, a statistical means to improve the probability of response by looking at different segmentation combinations – in this case, age and voter history – according to Malchow.
Chuck Pruitt, co-managing director and partner at AB Data, Milwaukee, agreed with Malchow. “I do believe that progressives – both candidates and causes – have gotten more and more sophisticated and more committed to trying to identify people who share their sort of values over the last five or six years.”
AB Data is a full-service direct marketing consulting firm and list broker focusing on progressive political candidates, causes and charitable groups.
“There’s been a clear improvement, both in terms of the quality of targeting and the quality of the lists that are being used. [But it’s] hard to compare that with the conservative side just because I’m not living in that market,” Pruitt said.
In January 1965, Viguerie pioneered grass-roots political fundraising through direct mail, creating the first political direct mail lists by hand, copying voters’ names and addresses from public sources and then reselling the lists to political candidates to build a multimillion-dollar political fundraising business.