Watch me make that robo call


Gold star to whoever catches the reference to the song in the title.

I asked Reps. Spencer Black (D-Madison) and Roger Roth (R-Appleton) some questions about the ban on robo calls both are proposing in the State Assembly. I asked first if they had ever authorized robo-calls themselves or if any independent group had ever done them on their behalf. Both responded no. I didn’t expect either to respond in the affirmative but it was worth a try.

Nevertheless, I asked Roth why he thought politicians used them if they were so negatively received by voters (he had previously said that nobody wants to hear more robo-calls in Wisconsin).

I believe many candidates use automated calls because they have a much lower cost to generate than something like a mailing.

I do not believe automated political calls are effective.  As I campaigned knocking on people’s doors, I heard numerous voters complain that they were unhappy with the volume of calls they were receiving, particularly those who had signed up on the Do Not Call list.  I believe these types of calls are only effective at agitating voters.  Consequently, I introduced this legislation in the 2007 session and re-introduced a refined version this session after working with DATCP and other interested groups.

For most legislative candidates this is probably a no-brainer. Face-to Faces interactions are a key part of state and local politics. Successful legislative candidates in competitive races often knock on thousands of doors. In a legislative election this is often the key to victory, especially in a year where there’s not a higher profile race. Hence, in legislative elections, the key resource is often time, not money. Time for the candidate to meet people. I say this despite the fact that in recent years there have been legislative campsigns that cost over a million dollars.

But when you cross the boundary into Congressional elections the caluclations become tougher. Instead of tens of thousands of constituents you have over half a million, and the identification with party and partisan issues is stronger on a national level. Being a likable neighbor of a candidate is great, but you also need to mobilize thousands of partisan voters to the poll who you;ve never met. It costs money to reach these people, and that’s where the robo-calls come in.

Granted, Roth’s decision to quit his day job to focus on his campaign for Congress (he’s running in the GOP primary to challenge Steve Kagen) shows the importance of contact between candidate and voters at all levels of government. Correction: I confused Roth with his primary competitor Reid Ribble, who did quit his job in at a roofing company to pursue campaigning full time.


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4 Responses to “Watch me make that robo call”

  1. I'm not giving my name to a machine Says:

    Why me crank dat robo cop?

  2. Kevin Binversie Says:

    Roth didn’t quit his day job. Ribble did.

    Only one State Rep. is leaving; and thanks to a request by Doyle, it’s not anytime soon.

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