Tatiana Matta, a Democrat, is running against incumbent Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy in California's 23rd Congressional District. But you would not know this if you were to drive around Bakersfield less than two months from the November election.
McCarthy has a visual presence in Bakersfield. He has been able to become part of what cultural geographers call the urban landscape. The simple action of placing his name on large signs on major streets associated with various small businesses is an excellent marketing strategy. Sociologist branding experts, psychologists and cultural geographers know the significance of having a candidate's name advertised in the cyber world, but advertising online only, does not recognize the incredible importance of getting the candidate's name out in the physical urban landscape.
There is a huge body of evidence that shows the importance in the subconscious mind of the voter, when the name of the candidate is visually present in their physical world. Signage is one of the least expensive and best grassroots methods of getting the name of a candidate out to potential voters. There is a powerful subconscious message being made when a local business or resident is willing to place the name of a candidate on their property. Signage shows excitement for a candidate, and the lack of it shows just the reverse. Again, one of the simplest cost-effective and volunteer empowering actions any candidate can do is to buy large and various sizes of signage, and get the candidate's name out in the daily commute of the voter.
In the book "Hacks," the author Donna Brazile, former interim chair of the Democratic National Committee, writes about knowing that then candidate, Hilary Clinton was in serious trouble in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio and other states by the lack of signage. In politics, one of the surest ways to show you are not a serious contender is to have no visual presence in the community.
Democratic candidate for California's 23rd Congressional District Matta has no visual presence in Bakersfield, or most of the Central Valley, from what I can tell. If you are not going to run a real campaign to provide the voters a clear alternative to "status quo," then maybe you should not run at all. Bluntly stated, who is mismanaging Matta's campaign and why are they not actively seeking funds from the public, as well as the state Democratic Party and the National DCCC? Matta may have some online presence, but as advertising experts will validate, you must also have a visual presence in the "real world," or your brand is invisible.
I have a suggestion for Matta: Find out why your campaign manager is not actively trying to advance your campaign.
Noel Pineo has lived in Kern County for almost three decades. He can be reached at email@example.com.