Marketing has been a part of the game since political parties have been around. Parties tout their accomplishments and push their visions. They poke holes in arguments, point to differences as a way to garner support; they use newspaper ads, radio and television commercials. These days, they also use digital and social media. Sometimes they use billboards.
After the passage of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion “rescue” plan in Congress, the Democratic National Committee was anxious to take credit for the $1,400 stimulus payments going to many Americans and significantly ramped-up COVID-19 vaccine distribution. The national Democratic party decided the success was big enough to market. With a campaign-like blitz, the party launched a series of radio ads and targeted 20 states for billboards to remind people who got those things done — and who didn’t.
In Wisconsin, there’s no Biden photo on a billboard that includes the words “Help is here,” “$1,400 checks” and “shots in arms” along with “No thanks to Senator Ron Johnson who voted no” next to a picture of the Wisconsin U.S. senator. Some of the billboards in Miami and Tampa criticize U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott for opposing the pandemic-focused relief economic relief law. Another Miami billboard, in Spanish, targets Rep. Maria Salazar for voting against the measure in the House before it went to the senate.
In Kenner, the DNC placed one of the “Help is here” billboards at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport on Jerome S. Glazer Airport Access Road. “Folks in New Orleans and senators traveling home won’t be able to miss this message,” Democratic National Committee Chairperson Jaime Harrison wrote with glee in a prepared statement.
Not so quick, Chairman Harrison.
The Democrats didn’t do their homework.
The billboard was placed on an access road near a terminal that closed in November 2019. As a result, not all of the drivers the Democrats wanted to see the message will see it. Most drivers take the Loyola Avenue exit, just west of the old airport access road. Our two U.S. senators, Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, both staunch “no” votes on the bill, won’t likely see the board — unless they go looking for it, especially since their routes in from Baton Rouge and Madisonville won’t take them that way.
Sometimes political gamesmanship is amusing, especially when the messages are intentionally humorous. We might even laugh at things with which we disagree because they are funny. In this case, we’re laughing at the Democrats and not their message.
The Kenner billboard shows that Beltway Democrats have something to learn: If you don’t know Louisiana, maybe you should touch base with locals who know something about the state. If you did that, maybe you should find some smarter Democratic friends.