Daniel Webster

Daniel Webster for U.S. Congress

The Challenge

Democrat Alan Grayson had courted controversy throughout his first term in office, but remained a strong opponent in a swing district thanks to a rabid online following and his ability to self-finance when necessary. His lightning-rod personality attracted a large field of Republicans who wanted to defeat him. Ultimately, 7 Republicans qualified to challenge him, including longtime Republican legislator Daniel Webster. Though he enjoyed a stellar conservative legislative record, Congressman Webster’s long career in elected office was problematic in 2010, the cycle where the Tea Party started to gain traction.

Campaign Mail Examples

The Research

For this race, Data Targeting managed direct mail services for Congressman Webster’s federal campaign. Federal coordination between outside actors is extremely limited, and 2010 was the first election cycle of the post-Citizens United era. Super PACs didn’t yet realize their full abilities and sophistication. Congressman Webster is fiscally conservative by nature and not an aggressive fundraiser. So, creative materials needed to be substantive, intentional, and in-line with the conservative political environment to ensure Webster could not be branded negatively as a “career politician.”

For the polling department alone, DT conducted nearly $165,000 worth of research activity, with more funds invested in time and production in the data department.

The Campaign

Data Targeting produced all direct mail for the primary and general elections, which served to amplify and reinforce the Webster campaign’s key campaign message: “America’s not broken, Washington is.” This message resonated with voters’ anti-career politician sentiment without sounding inauthentic to Republican primary voters. Our mail emphasized that authenticity with substantive background on his legislative accomplishments, while also drawing attention to his family, his faith and his family-owned business.

Webster’s primary opponents rarely challenged his conservative credentials, which allowed our mail to be crafted and executed on Webster’s terms.

The Results

Webster ultimately won the Republican primary election comfortably. Despite seven candidates in the field, Webster won 40% of the vote and was never seriously challenged by his opponents, who quickly unified to endorse Webster’s general election bid against Alan Grayson.

Grayson would be the author of his own political demise, leading an overheated and viciously negative campaign against Webster’s religious beliefs. Grayson’s “Taliban Dan” ad compared Webster’s beliefs on marriage to radical Islamist sects, and deliberately misquoted video footage of Webster. Grayson had a slim margin for error in what would prove to be a Republican election year, and his errors cost him dearly.

Webster would ultimately defeat Grayson by 18% and by nearly 40,000 votes.