The Macon Telegraph has a piece today on automated phone calls, as used by campaigns. The article (“Automated calls hold pluses, minuses for political campaigns”), which asserts that robo-calls are “cheap and effective, but they often annoy voters,” says:
Atlanta Braves starter John Smoltz was on the phone to make a political pitch, one that Lawrence Hammond didn’t appreciate.
“He’s a great pitcher,” said Hammond, a 41-year-old accountant who lives near Augusta, “but I don’t care about his political views.”
Smoltz’s call was among the 18 or 19 that filled Hammond’s voicemail during a weekend beach trip last month as the Georgia primary election neared. The recorded messages praising Republican candidates may have hurt more than helped.
“I would probably still vote for the Republican, but it could turn me off to them,” Hammond said. “I wouldn’t want to support them as much.”
“It’s extremely cost effective – way cheaper than a piece of mail, way cheaper than a live phone call,” said Elizabeth J. Welsh, president of Louisville, Ky.-based Executive Communications Inc., which runs political campaigns and hires companies to send automated calls for clients.
The calls are seen as effective, too. Georgia state Sen. Casey Cagle relied on the calls to upset former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed in the Republican primary for lieutenant governor. Some homes in suburban Atlanta’s predominantly Republican counties received more than two dozen calls from the Cagle campaign alone.
“The automatic calls are pretty heavily used by both sides in almost every major campaign because they’re so incredibly cheap,” said Cagle spokesman Brad Alexander. “The question isn’t whether you can afford to do them, but how many you want to do.”
The article concludes on this down note:
Several states have passed or are considering laws banning the calls. In Montana, politicians face the same limitations as telemarketers and can face a fine of up to $2,500 if they send out the automated calls.
So, what do you think about robo-calls? Annoying, effective, or the perfect balance of both? Being that this is a site for “political junkies,” I can probably guess the answer… 😉