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Online media added to CUNA advocacy toolkit
WASHINGTON (11/13/12)--Credit union-supported candidates saw great success in last week's elections, and advocacy for these candidates, in some cases, was provided by the Credit Union National Association's first forays into new media political advocacy.

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CUNA's Credit Union Legislative Action Council (CULAC) allocated portions of its independent expenditure (IE) budget toward "new media" campaigns for three U.S. House candidates: Dan Maffei (D-N.Y.), Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) and Iowa candidate Kristie Vilsack (D).

Maffei and Collins both defeated sitting House incumbents. Vilsack lost her House race.

CULAC's advocacy for these candidates took the form of demographically targeted online advertising on web-based media platforms such as social media site Facebook, online radio site Pandora, and banner or sidebar ads on various websites. The candidates also received search-based advertisement placement through Google's AdWords product.

The ads redirected users that clicked on them to a  CULAC-managed website or Facebook page, helping the users learn more about the candidate and their policy priorities. "The ads were targeted only to IP addresses within the given candidate's district, and with a high certainty to be seen by the targeted demographic based on factors like which websites the targeted voters regularly visit," CUNA Vice President of Political Affairs Trey Hawkins said.

"We know the ads were displayed hundreds of thousands of times, and clicked on thousands of times," he added. Hawkins noted that the pro-candidate Facebook pages were "liked" by hundreds of people in each district, including credit union members.

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"Overall, this was just a small portion of our overall budget for independent expenditures, but we thought it was another worthy avenue to educate voters, and in the case of the Facebook pages, mobilize and activate supporters for our candidates," Hawkins said. CULAC spent more than $1 million on IEs this election cycle.

CUNA supported 388 candidates for the House and Senate in Tuesday's election, and in 96% of those races the credit union-friendly candidates won. CULAC remains the most bipartisan political action committee (PAC) in opensecrets.org's list of the top 20 PAC contributors for this election, with funding nearly evenly divided between the two major parties.

While last week's elections marked the end of a busy period for CUNA and CULAC, there is no rest for the weary, as credit union efforts have turned toward grassroots advocacy for member business lending cap increase legislation and other credit union priorities.

CUNA is hosting a late November Hike the Hill to make one final push for MBL passage in this session of Congress. CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney is encouraging credit union supporters and small business owners to travel to Washington and let their voices be heard. (See related story: Time is now to take MBL action: CUNA Video)


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