By most accounts, the TV ads in Campaign 2016 have been so-so, so far.
A ton of money has been spent, as always, but there are few memorable ads and little proof of an ad or ad blitz that significantly moved the numbers.
There's plenty of time for that to change. The campaigns and super PACs will adjust and try again in these crazy weeks before the first voting. And Donald Trump promises to stir the ad wars with his entry; the businessman says he will spend at least $2 million a week on ads starting any day now.
If there is an exception so far, political pros in New Hampshire suggest Bernie Sanders
These veteran observers, both Democrats and Republicans, say the Vermont senator's ads do break through on the crowded airwaves, because their message is clear and direct, and they're aimed at the Democratic constituencies that Sanders knows are critical to his chances of winning New Hampshire.
2. The Obama factor in the 2016 race
President Obama, of course, isn't on the ballot in 2016. But he vows to fight the lame-duck label, and his busy start to the election year means he will be an issue even if he is not a candidate.
The State of the Union address is early this year -- scheduled for January 12. And even before that, on Monday, the President plans to announce new executive actions designed to further regulate gun sales.
With Iowa voting 28 days from Monday, it guarantees the President a central role in the campaign to replace him. Julie Pace of The Associated Press told us the gun issue with get play in both the Democratic and Republican primary campaigns.
"Hillary Clinton has already been calling for more aggressive action on guns," said Pace. "And this gives her a chance to show herself as someone who has been at the forefront of the issue and also draw a contrast with Bernie Sanders in an area where he's actually not aligned with progressives.
"For Republicans, they really see this as a two-front win for them. One, there's very few things that anger Republican voters more than President Obama's use of executive actions. So they'll certainly hit that. And two, there's obviously a lot of concern among Republican voters about any actions that could limit their access to guns."
3. Persistence pays on Obamacare repeal, but with a veto pen!
Repealing Obamacare is a staple of Republican political messaging and for years has been a source of GOP frustration, if not futility.
But persistence pays, at least if the goal was to force Obama to veto a real repeal effort. And with that part of the early 2016 agenda, CNN's Manu Raju reports there is a new effort in the party to craft a more unified approach to how Republicans would replace the health care law should they win the presidency and actually have the power to engineer the repeal piece.
"This week, congressional Republicans are finally going to pass a repeal of Obamacare that will land on the President's desk, after dozens and dozens of attempts," said Raju.
"Of course, the President is going to veto it; there's going to be no chance to override it. But, what is significant is that Republicans have figured out a road map of how to repeal the health care law if they take back the White House and keep control of Congress -- doing it through this method, through the budget process, that allows them to circumvent a Senate filibuster."
4. As Bush seeks a comeback, the clock is a factor in making contact
Jeb Bush insists he should not be counted out of the GOP race, and he promises to prove his point with a superior ground game in the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire.
Old-fashioned retail politics are also a big part of the strategy, and Ashley Parker of The New York Times says many of those with doubts about Bush, who come to see the former Florida governor because of their history with his famous family, leave with a changed view of him.
"They watch him speak and they come away incredibly impressed," said Parker. "They think he's confident and forceful and freewheeling, and they like his detailed plans.
"And to me, that sort of speaks to both his real potential, because he's really winning over everyone he meets, and his real limitations, because Jeb Bush cannot meet every single voter in New Hampshire."
5. In the age of Snapchat and Twitter, old-school methods still have a role
Yes, modern campaigns need to adapt to modern communications technology. Which means more tweets and vines and snapchatting.
But there are still some old-school tools that campaigns think can make a difference, including using old-fashioned snail mail to deliver a message.
Ed O'Keefe of The Washington Post happens to have family living in New Hampshire, which just happens to hold the first-in-the-nation presidential primary.
So, during a holiday visit, why not take a peek in the mailbox. With permission of course.
Right to Rise USA, a political action committee supporting Jeb Bush, has "sent seven mailers like this," said O'Keefe. "They leave door tags, or car tags, even, if you go to a Bush event."
"It's a reminder that despite all that other advertising, they're doing this: $10½ million dollars being spent by Right to Rise USA in New Hampshire alone. A lot of it's going to mail."