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The first ad went on the air in June, despite vociferous objection from Ickes, who controlled the campaign purse strings. He felt that a $2.4 million ad buy so long before the election was a waste of good money. But that's not the way his boss saw it. "The day the President hired me," says Schoen, "he told me the thing that most disturbed him about his first term was that the Republicans beat him on health care with $13 million in advertising." Clinton told another consultant, "If we don't spend $10 million on TV [in 1995], I could lose this thing."
The crime ads aired for a month in markets across the country, but not in media centers like New York City; the spots got little notice from the press. The consultants, who split a 15% commission on the $2.4 million advertising buy, joked that Morris liked to spread his earnings across the whole tax year. But the early TV buy served a second purpose. It consolidated Morris' power inside the White House, demonstrating that he, not Ickes, was in control of the campaign and that he would run the President right down the middle. The remaking of Clinton had begun.
Ickes took his revenge: he began a campaign of nickeling-and-diming his adversaries, refusing to authorize their requests for cellular phones and moving the high-living Morris into a cheaper hotel suite. Ickes launched a protracted effort to cut the consultants' commission, arguing them down to 7% from 15%. Clinton got tired of all the squabbling and at one point dressed Morris down. "Everybody's taking sides," Clinton yelled. "Harold's got his team, and you've got yours. Who's on my team?"
THE NEURO POLL
Penn was concerned about the off-the-cuff nature of White House strategy. A longer, deeper view was essential, so in June he suggested doing a benchmark poll that would "define the keys to re-establishing the President's image." Morris, though reluctant to give Penn so large a mission, knew he was right. Penn's "neuropersonality poll" was no less than an attempt to map the psyche of the American voter. It became the blueprint for the campaign.
Using the two secret Penn and Schoen polling sites--one in Manhattan, one in Denver, where hundreds of employees were phoning day and night--Penn polled every subject under the sun. "Do you go to parties?...Which spectator sports do you prefer?...Are you happy with your current situation?" He was attempting to form a psychological profile of each major voting bloc, searching for the big defining experiences that shaped people's attitudes toward politics. What emerged surprised him. If you looked at the race by class and by age, the traditional indicators, Dole and Clinton came out about even. The great divide was marital status. Those with families preferred Dole to Clinton by 10 to 15 points. The most prominent variable, the transformative event that affected people's views of politics, was the experience of having and raising children.