Derek Hunter

It’s been nearly a year since the election, and there is still a lot of soul-searching among conservatives and Republicans. Columnists and consultants are waxing philosophical about why Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney and how to win in 2016.

Lots of ink has been spilled, column inches eaten and, most importantly, cash burned trying to figure out how to reach low-information voters by people who probably don’t know any of them. Why? Because there’s money in it. Which is the real problem.

Big donors to either party have no clue what the average person thinks about anything, let alone how to reach out to them. People who can cut a check for a quarter-million dollars or more to a political cause don’t routinely rub elbows with those who can’t. Considering the vast majority of Americans don’t make a fourth of that per year, the disconnect is not surprising.

Enter the political consultant.

Political consultants are, with some exceptions, like the mob – at each level of any transaction they get a “taste.” Fundraisers get a taste. Pollsters get a taste. People who create ads get a taste. This wetting of the beak can be quite lucrative, and you’re paid regardless of whether you’re successful or accurate. It’s a hell of a racket.

That’s why you see poll after poll and study after study on how Republicans can reach this group or that group. Most are a total waste of money, but the failure they lead to is so far down the road no one will remember. By that time, the public will have been treated to new studies and new surveys and new excuses for failure.

It’s a never-ending cycle.

That’s why I get annoyed when I hear a talking head on TV talk about what their data shows or ads for some group asking you to help them tell Congress whatever the issue of the day is.

The talking heads are appealing to and appeasing big donors. They talk about their metrics and data as if these hold the cure for cancer, if only they had the money to get the word out. They are the Social Media Gurus of today.

Just last decade, a new breed of “must-have” consultants wormed their way through the think tanks (and their bank accounts) in Washington – the Social Media Gurus.


Derek Hunter

Derek Hunter is Washington, DC based writer, radio host and political strategist. You can also stalk his thoughts 140 characters at a time on Twitter.