I bet 99% of the voting population put political mailings in the “circular file” without ever reading them. Usually, I do as well. Not this time. I decided to save every one and to take a good look at them when I had some time. That time is now.

85 pieces came to our home before the Primary Election. Collectively they weighed over 5 pounds.  All of them were on slick paper or card stock and in color. Overwhelmingly the most popular size of mailing is the 11” X 6” card mailer. I received 32 pieces that size. The second most popular form of mailer is something new. It is in booklet form, 8 ½” X 11”, with either 4 or 6 pages. I received 27 of those.  The third most popular was the traditional 12 ½” X 8 ½”, oversized card.

The hottest race in my area was for the Congressional seat being vacated by Congressman Ed Pastor. Whoever captured the Democratic Primary would win the seat as there is no Republican opponent in the General Election. Ruben Gallego led the pack with 14 pieces of mail followed closely by Mary Rose Wilcox with 10 pieces. Each was running against the other for that coveted seat.

Their campaign philosophies were in stark contrast to one another. Gallego had 12 positive pieces about himself: 8 were from his campaign committee; 4 were Independent Expenditures – 2 from Revitalize Arizona (local PAC based in Tempe) and 2 from the Mayday PAC (national SuperPAC based in Austin, Texas). His committee only put out 2 hit pieces on Mary Rose Wilcox highlighting her history of promotion of her own self interests while an elected official. Clearly his campaign focused on the positive.

On the other hand Mary Rose Wilcox sent out 10 mailings. 3 were positive pieces about her and 7 were negative pieces about Gallego centered on the theme of his pro-gun stance. Apparently her old school politics tactic of using every piece of negativity she could dig up didn’t work. She received 36% of the vote vs. his 49%.

In all of the other races from Governor to Superintendent of Public Instruction to County Supervisor, some candidates sent out anywhere from 1 to 3 pieces. Many sent out none. The future trend appears to be to move away from printed material and to the media – TV and radio ads and social media such as Facebook and Twitter.  It makes sense. Most of us throw political mailings away as soon as they are received. TV ads and radio ads we often suffer through to watch the local news or a favorite TV show. The same can be said for radio. With social media we tend to “friend” or follow those political figures with which we share a point of view. Sometimes we follow others just to see what the opposition is saying.

Most of the campaign mailings were banal. Candidates often use photos of themselves, family and friends. Sometimes there are children or eager followers with eyes rapt on the candidates, smiling in excess. The mailings are often too “busy.” Since this may be the only shot a candidate has to reach the voter, he or she tends to tell us too much.

Most have probably never heard of the KISS principle – that is, Keep It Simple, Stupid. Images are far more powerful than words in many instances. With President Obama’s favorable rating in the toilet, many Republican candidates are using images of the President juxtaposed with the opposition candidate. I chose four mailings that I thought were effective because they caught the reader’s attention.  All have powerful and in some cases, evocative images. Print is to a minimum. The white print works. I would not have used any colored print. Three of them have black backgrounds which makes the images pop.  Forget the issue and/or the candidate depicted and view the powerful images:

apples and oranges

 This mailer was produced by the Arizona Free Enterprise Club in support of Justin Pierce for Secretary of State. Michele Reagan beat him and is the Republican candidate. The image is effective in portraying the old adage of “comparing apples to oranges.”



This mailer was produced by Veterans for a Strong America, a national political action committee. It is in opposition to Christine Jones for governor. She was defeated and Doug Ducey is the Republican candidate. The photos of the 4 Americans who were killed in Benghazi are poignant.


Trayvon Martin

This mailer was produced by the Mary Rose Wilcox committee in opposition to Ruben Gallego. The image is a powerful one and could be any teenager. Wilcox did not prevail and Gallego took the Congressional seat.


Mary Rose Wilcox 2


This mailer was produced by Gallego’s committee. The sneer and distain on Wilcox’s face is palpable. In this case the sepia tones contribute to the image. It works. Gallego beat Wilcox.


© Joyce Clark, 2014


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