Open Tab

Read All About It!
(Bet Sparky does the crossword puzzle in ink)

As regular readers know, I’m not the biggest fan of the Pod Save Whatevs boys (someone described them as NPR with swears and that seems about right), but sometimes they really nail an analysis. This is one of those times.

Most of the conversation around Democratic messaging is about why we suck so bad. Democratic activists and donors look longingly at Republican messaging and fall in love with former Republican action committees like the Lincoln Project. A feeling of messaging inadequacy is almost the price of admission for being a Democrat. I havewritten about why this narrative is incorrect — or at least more nuanced than “Repubs good, Dems bad.” However, there is an exception to this rule, and that exception has a shaved head, prefers gym shorts to suits, and once flew a ‘Legalize Marijuana’ flag on a state building. Every Democrat I speak with is blown away by Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman’s communications chops. I hear from Democrats of all stripes and at all levels about the need for more Fettermans. There is no question John Fetterman and his campaign are putting on a messaging masterclass. Fetterman is a uniquely talented messenger running against a uniquely vulnerable opponent. Not every Democrat can do what he does, but some of his approach is broadly applicable. If we want more Fettermans, it’s worth understanding what John Fetterman is doing right.

And that’s a pretty strong lede to what is pretty solid analysis; this is the opening salvo of what Fetterman is doing right and that all Dems could do:

Modern politics is a battle for attention. Therefore, campaigns need to communicate 24-7 and aim to dominate the political conversation. The Fetterman Campaign is always on offense. They are constantly putting out content that amplifies their message and puts Dr. Oz on the defensive. They never let up. Every day brings more videos, ads, and social media posts hammering Oz and amplifying the positive Fetterman message. When political news breaks, the campaign treats it as an opportunity to communicate on his terms.

The section on synergy is worth studying in detail. It is not exactly like the ol’ Gartner Magic Quadrant, but it is not exactly not.

It’s a great piece, I highly recommend reading it in full and bookmarking it; I’ve had it open for a couple of days. Yes it is a sub stack, and no, you don’t have to pay to read it.

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7 Responses to Open Tab

  1. Ehh. Not so sure.

    Yes Fetterman DOES have a ‘shermans march through georgia’ social media campaign that’s incredibly effective…but a huge amount of that effect is that it’s new. The first campaign like this is going to be huge. The second, third and fourth…not so much.

    The 25th? Going to fade into noise like all the other political ads our mailboxes are full of. Novelty is enormously powerful. (Madison Ave 101)

    The second (and IMO more important ) thing Fetterman has is that he is ABSOLUTELY genuine, and a hell of a retail politician, too.(he’s campaigning personally in every county…Oz is occasionaly showing up in PA.)

    THAT is something that cannot be fixed or faked with meme warfare. See Jon Tester, another absolutely genuine , retail politician. That’s why he’s a 3-term Democratc Senator from Montana.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Jimmy T says:

      Yeah, he’s quite effective in his approach, and I think the ‘shermans march through georgia’ is spot on. Also his highway sign posted in the substack is priceless…

      Liked by 2 people

    • tengrain says:


      I agree, Fetterman is a one-of-a-kind (and ain’t that a shame), and running against a complete phony like Oz is sort of a perfect storm.

      That said, I think the lessons here are right: basically kick the Consultant to the curb and talk to the voters as if they are real people (which, surprisingly, they are). The coming in fast, on target, and in volume also seems like a good strategy; the voter won’t get bored and tuned out if it is always fresh. The quadrant way of thinking seems important. Of all the lessons in the post, that is the one that seems like it could be the most universally applied. It seems like an updated version of Carville’s “It’s the economy, Stupid” lesson.

      There’s some good stuff here. I think we need to pause and digest it.



      Liked by 2 people

  2. roket says:

    One should also note that the MSM is thoroughly captivated by republican lies. It doesn’t take much to resurrect Hunter Biden’s laptop and it won’t take much to resurrect Hillary’s emails.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Reblogged this on Scottie's Playtime and commented:

    And again, the younger generation show how to defeat the republicans, can we at least learn something from this? When will the older corporate democrats move aside? Thank you to Tengrain for posting this. And as always check out the comments. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

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