Saturday, October 16, 2010

Judging Them By The Slogans They Use...

In judging the state of a political campaign, I think that you can learn a lot from the quality and the number of slogans each side uses.

Team O’Malley has largely stuck with “Moving Maryland Forward,” which O’Malley repeated in both of the recent debates. As slogans go, it is fine if not particularly inspiring. I think that critics could seize upon its vagueness as further evidence of a campaign which is using clichés to conceal bad results.

Team Ehrlich, on the other hand, seems to have gone through three different slogans to date.

The first one, “More Jobs, Lower Taxes,” appears on some of the campaign’s signs. For me, the slogan is a bit too “well, duh” obvious. I mean, what else is a challenger going to say in a time of recession? Further, the slogan begs the question as to how Ehrlich plans to achieve both these goals. Team Ehrlich’s lack of specificity on the “More Jobs” component, and Team O’Malley’s attacks on Ehrlich’s “Lower Taxes” record, mitigated its usefulness.

BTW, my friend Joe Steffen suggested this one should have been "More Jobs, Higher Fees."

The second slogan, “Martin O’Malley’s Making Stuff Up,” was featured prominently in some of the campaign’s TV ads, and in its email claiming victory after Monday’s debate. The slogan was tied largely to the whole DLLR Internet jobs report controversy which Team Ehrlich seized upon. But with the controversy never reaching the Watergate-style dimensions the campaign expected, the slogan was abandoned.

The latest slogan, “Maryland Deserves A Leader -- Not A Politician,” was cited by Ehrlich ("Leaders lead...politicians give you" rhetoric) in the Washington Post debate. The point behind the slogan seems to be turning O’Malley’s reliance on talking points and slick rhetoric, so evident in both recent debates, against him. “We deserve a governor who will tell the truth about Maryland’s economic and fiscal crises,” Henry Fawell wrote in a recent campaign email, “not hide behind clichés and flowery language.”

Of the three slogans proffered by the Ehrlich campaign, I like the last one best. In any event, they should pick one and use it consistently and effectively. Two-and-a-half weeks before Election Day doesn’t leave a lot of time for additional course correction.

So, if you were advising the campaigns, which slogans would YOU suggest to them?


  1. how about this slogan - "because Kendel wants the House back"?

  2. The slogan might be a little more effective if the guy using weren't a career politician.

  3. Repetition works, repetition works, repetiton works! Kendall sounded beaten today, consistently complaining about the negative ads that are gutting her campaign. I noticed while watching football today, the Ehrlich ads are non existant on cable and seem to play 1 to three for O'malley on network tv.

    He has noooo radio ads going, none. I saw signs in the O'Malley camp going up in Pikesville and on York road in Timonium coming hope from kids sports. The O'Malley campaign seems to be surging down the stretch, I am simply not seeing much activity from Ehrlich. RJC, how does one find out how much ad time is bought on TV and radio?

  4. How about, "Reelect Governor Ehrlich...and her husband"?

  5. Anon @ 10/16/10 @ 15:28:

    Julie Bykowicz of The Sun and John Wagner of the Post have both been good sources on ad buys, though they haven't really reported the size of the ad buys for a while, just that they are occurring. I would check their respective blogs at each paper.

    Sounds to me like Team Ehrlich's money is drying up. I had heard this was a problem before the two polls came out showing O'Malley surging ahead. Ehrlich's poor debate performance Monday likely makes it harder for him to raise money - even though he redeemed himself at the WaPo debate.

  6. In an era of anti-incumbents and anti Democrats, Bob is too much of an incumbent and too much of a democrat. Not inspiring the kind of groundswell that many other underdogs that are now in close races. Plus I have always been disappointed how bob talks like a lawyer== talking above the average voter. He comes from arbutus for God's Sake. Maybe it is an insecurity? tries to hard to fit in with the Princeton crowd he never really fit in? Makes me nuts. "diatribe" Demagogue, I mean JUST SAY HE "S A smarmy LIAR.

  7. O'Malley isn't a liar, he has done what he told you he would do. He said he would improve schools, he did. He said he would increase school construction spending, he did. He said he would lower crime, its at its lowest in 35 years. He said he would blow up PSC and get money back from energy companies, he got rid of schisler and negotiated 2 billion back in stranded costs. He never promised to not raise taxes, said he may have to, he did. Promised to bring slots to Maryland, he did. Said he would improve the bay, he did, crabs are back. He is a democrat, he puts it out there, vote for him or don't.

    Ehrlich, however claims to be a conservative against taxes, but he raised the property tax (voted for at the bpw), says he cares about urban education, promises to cut 33 million from Bmore and PG school systems, was for slots, campaigned against referendum, worked for Cordish to bring em to mall, grew budget by 9 billion when he promised smaller government. The list could go on but you get the point, he is a tax and spend liberal trying to convince people he is a conservative.

  8. Friends of O'Malley is blanketing ads featuring Obama asking people to vote for his friend Marty on heaven 600 and other such radio stations.

    I disagree that Ehrlich "redemmed" himself on Thursday. Monday's debate was the death blow. Moderate Bob got destroyed. The Thursday debate Ehrlich was rightwing Bob trying to stop the bleeding. O'Malley phoned it in. Ehrlich down by several touchdowns chewed up the clock and settled for a FG.

    it is over. Ehrlich is burnt toast. The only incumbent Republican Governor to lose in 2006 will be virtually the only GOP candidate to get destroyed in the most pro-GOP election in perhaps history.

  9. O'Malley just recieved the Washington Post endorsement, MIND YOU, EHRLICH HAD THAT ENDORSEMENT LAST RACE! This explains why kendall was on air whining about how the Post could endorse O'malley after Thursday's debate.

    The answer is in the editorial kendall, Purple line and Bob's pandering sales tax cut without a plan to make up revenue. RJC, Ehrlich's camp can't get one break, what can they point to for donors to have confidence? Time for a phony poll?

    O'Malley camp is all over the place, signs are still popping up, ads are all over the radio and TV, phone banking is going on 7 days a week to turn out voters and mailings have started to hit boxes.

    Ehrlich's small media buy, no radio no momentum campaign is grinding and breaking down as the finish line approaches.

  10. Bob Ehrlich is wasting his time trying to defend his record and undo what has been done. He has no vision at all. No positive message. Voters are not going to fire O'Malley and re-hire someone they fired 4 years ago.