By Stephanie Murray
Political consultants are scrambling to prepare for unpredictable changes to tech platforms in the leadup to the 2022 midterms — all while acknowledging the traditional off-year of election cycles is a thing of the past.
The American Association of Political Consultants hosted its digital politics conference (virtually) on Thursday. Consultants from both sides of the aisle traded strategies for the 2022 midterms on topics like fundraising, digital ads and reaching different pieces of the electorate.
Consultants are bracing for changes on the tech platforms they rely on to raise money and identify or sway voters, like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Last year, Facebook abruptly announced it would ban political advertising in the week before the presidential election, for example.
“You cannot put all of your eggs into one digital basket and expect for that to continue through Election Day,” said Rebekah Gudeman, managing director of digital advertising for FP1 Strategies, during a virtual panel. She emphasized being active on many digital channels to prevent being stalled if one platform changes its rules.
“The places that are the most uncertain are the ones that are still working the best in terms of ad results. And I think that scares all of us,” said Christian Curto of Campaign Solutions, in another conference session. “More change is coming. Either big tech’s going to act, or government’s going to act, or there’s a showdown. And we don’t know when.”
In the meantime, political campaigns are feeling the pressure to raise cash and prepare for elections earlier and earlier every cycle. In a session titled “The End of the Political Off-Cycle: Building Digital Fundraising Plans for an Always On World,” consultants talked about how to keep supporters and donors engaged long before Election Day. They recommended trying new strategies during the off-year, like launching a merchandise store, when tensions aren’t so high.
“The stakes are going to be lower. You’re not going to have to adhere to such a strict budget, or projections or goals. If there is something that you want to try, doing it in the offseason is a great time to go ahead and dip your toe in there,” said Cheryl Hori, the founder of Pacific Campaign House.”