Next week is the mid-term election.
You didn't need me to tell you that, of course, because the candidates and the folks for and against ballot initiatives have been hounding you relentlessly for weeks now.
And the volume is increasing here in the home stretch. The number of tweets and Facebook updates I see from everyday people crying "uncle" and "make it stop" stand in stark contrast to 2008. Back then, people were either joyfully aligning with Hope or Momma Grizzlies. A text message from Barack or Sarah produced a delighted smile at the wonder of it all.
That was then. In just two short years, what once seemed surprising and delightful now feels like relentless stalking. While I imagine the fired-up, angry white guys of the Tea Party right and the anxious Birkenstock-wearing progressives of the left are notable exceptions, it seems the vast majority of people are worn out -- by the hard slog of the economy, by the spectacle of Americans being so unkind to their fellow Americans, and by the seeming futility of it all.
Here in California, we have a choice for governor but most people believe it won't make a difference which of them is elected because the state is so ungovernable. So we cast our eyes on more entertaining races, such as those between Harry Reid and Sharron Angle in Nevada ("man-up, Harry!") or Christine O'Donnell ("I'm not a witch, I'm you!") and whomever she's running against in Delaware. The story of a "strict Constitutionalist" up in Alaska who had his private security force "arrest" a reporter for, um, reporting -- an act, by the way, protected by no less than the First Amendment -- was particularly diverting.
Here in San Francisco we even have the joy of seeing the Giants go to the World Series. It was a treat listening to the Fox Sports reporters struggle to describe our guys. Bearded and long-haired and diverse, the ragtag team of misfits seems to confirm the worst fears of Tea Partiers across the nation: that San Francisco is just not like the rest of us. No wonder it produced Nancy Pelosi.
But despite these little diversions, the reality of our hometown election cannot be escaped. The phone endlessly rings (I swear I'm finally getting rid of the damn landline). Literature is shoved through the mail slot by the shovel-full (I hope the USPS provides chiropractic care to its mail carriers). And the political ads on Web sites, in search results, in newspapers, on TV and on radio, are relentless. The text messages, the tweets, the Facebook updates:each is a stark reminder of the consequences of giving up my contact information during those giddy days of the 2008 election season.
All of which means that it's been a great year for media. Whether digging deep into their own pockets or those of anonymous donors at home and abroad, candidates and those pushing issues are on pace to spend even more than what was spent in the record-breaking 2008 election. Old and new media alike should send boxes of soft-centered chocolates to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and his ilk for the Citizens United gift to their collective bottom line.
I mean, talk about a stimulus program!
But by the time we all gather for Ad:Tech in New York on Nov. 3rd, I predict this program will prove to be like that other stimulus program now playing a starring role this election season: not big enough to produce the impact we needed.
While we've had a good year here in the advertising world, it seems it won't be a blow-out year, and all the prognosticators are now revising their outlooks for 2011 showing slower, more incremental growth. California will still be ungovernable. Congress will still be in gridlock. And Americans will still be saying unkind things about their fellow Americans (not to mention the country's guests).
Despite all the dollars spent and the exhausted patience of voters across the nation, it seems the best we can hope for in the foreseeable future is more of the same. Except in baseball. There's something to look forward to there.
Let's go, Giants!