In recent cycles, Indiana’s 9th congressional district has been an uphill battle for Democrats. In 2002 Baron Hill narrowly retained his seat, in 2004 Mike Sodrel narrowly defeated him, and 2006 was billed as the rubber match.
For the third contest in 2006, Hill hired MSA as his media strategists. The race again pitted two Southern Indiana political titans against each other, with a stunning result: Baron Hill defeated incumbent Congressman Mike Sodrel.
Based on the two previous elections, it was clear that the way to win was to strike early and to strike hard. And that is what we did. Mike Sodrel had gone to Washington and forgot who he represented. With our hard-hitting ads, the voters in the 9th district of Indiana realized Baron Hill shares their values while “Millionaire Mike” always put the needs of the special interests first. In order to cut through the clutter of a crowded media market during the final weeks of the campaign, we produced an animated television spot to drive our message home. Defying conventional wisdom, Baron Hill recaptured his seat—50% to 46%.
In 2008, Baron Hill and Mike Sodrel faced each other for the fourth time. Both candidates began the race with high name recognition and very high personal negatives because of the divisive nature of the three previous campaigns. For the 2008 effort, we decided on a radically different strategy. We developed a paid media campaign that relied 100% on positive advertisements and spent significant resources on cable television which was essential in an expensive, sprawling district like Indiana’s 9th. The media campaign relied on constituent testimonials to communicate Baron Hill’s ability to not only deliver for the people in his district but to keep his campaign promises. Our strategy paid off, Baron Hill defeated Mike Sodrel decisively 58% to 38%.