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N.H. voters say most campaign mass marketing ineffective

By Steve Kastenbaum, CNN Radio
updated 12:05 PM EST, Tue January 10, 2012
Registered voters in New Hampshire have been inundated with mass mailings from the GOP presidential candidates.
Registered voters in New Hampshire have been inundated with mass mailings from the GOP presidential candidates.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Voters in Manchester area say some mailings leave impression but most end up in trash
  • Group interviewed says Mitt Romney outdid all the other candidates in New Hampshire
  • "With Romney, it's been almost a case of overkill," small business owner says
  • Rep. Ron Paul followed closely behind Romney with mailings and phone calls, voters say

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Manchester, New Hampshire (CNN) -- As people head to the polls in New Hampshire, the campaigns will learn whether all the funds used for direct marketing to voters was money well-spent.

Mailings, robocalls, phone surveys, doorknob hangers, mass e-mails, texts -- it's next to impossible to find a registered Republican or independent voter in the Granite State who hasn't received several of each.

A group of voters in the Manchester area told CNN some left an impression but most wound up in the trash or had no impact on their decision. While every candidate sent out something to voters, the group said one politician in particular went beyond the others.

"With Romney, it's been almost a case of overkill," said Karin Page, a registered Republican and small business owner from Webster. "I don't understand why if he's been leading the polls here all along."

Ben LaBrecque received several mailings and phone calls from the Romney campaign. But he seemed more understanding.

"It's a competition; I mean you can't ease up," said the Republican from Londonberry. "If you want to win, you have to go 100%. I think that's what Mitt Romney's doing. So I think that makes sense."

That method didn't have the same effect on Roy Teresky, a registered Republican: "My take on it is he spends an inordinate amount of time focus-group testing everything he says and sanitizing it to find the exact way to phrase it," Teresky said.

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In addition to multiple mailings from the Romney campaign, the vice president of sales and marketing at the Institute for Environmental Education also received several survey calls.

"It made me pay attention to what he's doing because I feel like everything is calculated."

But James Basbas said he sees it differently. The Republican from Manchester said he thinks it shows that Romney has a team in place that can take him all the way to the White House.

"I think having the political infrastructure to win a campaign is important, especially for a candidate who wants to go up against (President) Barack Obama," said Basbas, who has lived in the state most of his life and voted in several presidential primaries. "He's done a lot of IDing of voters ... so he can understand who he needs to go after and who he needs to target."

Basbas said he has received at least two mailings each week from the Romney campaign for the past few months.

The glossy fliers with images of Romney and quotes from people supporting him didn't win over Republican Fred Ashfar.

"I'm looking for substance," said the real estate consultant from Manchester. "Empty promises are not really attractive to me. I'm looking for people who use straight talk and give promises that they can deliver on after the election."

Ashfar said he didn't get that from the mailings and phone calls. Most of the fliers wound up in his trash bin.

One piece of marketing material did have an impact on Karin Page.

"There was one from Romney that I did actually open because it was almost like a booklet. It was interesting because it shows his Granite State supporters and a lot of the names in here are people that I support and like."

Their support for Romney made her take another look at the candidate. But on the same day she received that booklet two other Romney mailings arrived at her house. They landed in the garbage.

Romney may have blitzed the state with mailings and phone calls. But Rep. Ron Paul followed closely behind him, according to the voters taking part in the discussion.

But most of Paul's mailings were the opposite of Romney's glossy postcards. The Texas lawmaker's campaign often sent out long letters laying out the case for his positions on multiple issues.

While Melinde Lutzbyrne's mailbox was refilled every day, her phone was also ringing often.

"I got a lot of robocalls. I got a lot of surveys," said Lutzbyrne, an independent voter from Bedford who said she felt the most effective ones came from Paul's campaign.

"I was impressed with two of them that actually caused me to go to an event in Nashua a few days ago." She said the robocalls concerned issues about which she cared. She said she hadn't really looked at Paul's positions before these calls.

The folks who participated in the conversation unanimously expressed disdain for the calls and mailings that attacked other candidates' positions. Yet they still received them from the campaigns or organizations supporting them.

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