You've Got Mail: And the Political Letters and Fliers Will Just Keep Coming
By Dave Franzman, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - You probably won’t find any eastern Iowans who want more political mail in their mailbox. But with Iowa still a divided swing state, you might not have a choice and more political letters and fliers are on the way leading up to November 6th.
Postal officials say they can’t really give a total volume of political mail in eastern Iowa this campaign season. For one, they don’t really divide up mail from individual senders for tracking purposes. And there’s also the issue of privacy. But plenty of voters would swear hardly a day goes by without one, two or more pieces of political mail in the mailbox.
Denise Jorgensen, a northeast Cedar Rapids resident, was actually surprised on Thursday when she checked her mail and found no political mail at all. Jorgensen said when it does arrive, it doesn’t get what you’d call a warm reception.
“I put it in the recycling immediately. It only makes it to the table if my husband gets the mail first,” Jorgensen said.
A neighbor, Kelly Funston, added “I don’t look at it very much. It’s probably wasted on me.”
Political mail might not get much respect from many voters. But Tyler Olson, a Democratic state representative, said the technique is popular with politicians because of cost. Local candidates can single out and send mail to each person in a specific area or district. Other types of political advertising might waste a message on people who can’t vote for a particular politician because of where they live.
And politicians say direct mail has another advantage. Voters tend to say it’s less annoying than other methods.
Elizabeth Levi, who was picking up mail from a post office box, said that’s her impression.
“I don’t mind the mail. You can just toss it. It’s the (political) phone calls I don’t like.”
Direct mail is also a way politicians can target voters at exactly the right time. Representative Olson said campaigns routinely get daily lists of voters who have requested an absentee ballot. If politicians hurry, it’s possible to get a political ad in the mail so it will arrive at the mailbox on the same day the letter carrier delivers an absentee ballot.
Olson also said politicians tend to budget their direct mail efforts at the beginning of the election season and sent out mail constantly rather than in a barrage. But there are exceptions. Some candidates will boost direct mailings right at the time absentee balloting begins. And the final few days before November 6th will also probably see a real last minute mail push.
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