It's rare for consultants to look north of the border to read the tea leaves in Washington but when it comes to the future of mail delivery that's exactly what happened this week.
After Canada Post announced it plans to phase out urban home delivery over the next six years and increase stamp prices, mail consultants wondered if the U.S. Postal Service could make a similar move to stop its $5 billion-annual net loss. Some observers believe its inevitable. For instance, Businessweek declared on Wednesday: "The unstoppable postal-service retreat starts in Canada."
But Democratic mail consultant Liz Chadderdon doesn't expect Canada's switch to "community mailboxes," which starts next year, to take hold in America.
"The U.S. will never go the way of Canada on many issues, including this one," she tells C&E. "The USPS is a part of American tradition and freedom. Furthermore, the USPS would be safely in the black if the Republican Congress would stop making it pay it's pension ten years in advance.
"But even so, mail isn't going away in America. And from a campaign perspective, mail is more effective now than ever because mail has the best data: a person's home address. And that person gave it freely when they registered to vote, unlike their phone number or TV watching habits. I see a great future for mail in the US."
Eric Hogensen, a California-based mail consultant, notes that even if similarly dramatic changes happen to mail U.S. mail delivery, campaigns will adapt.
"To me, news like this highlights a bigger and more interesting question about what voter communication will look like five, 10, 20 years down the road," he says. "Campaign communication does not operate in a state of stasis. It's very much affected by changes in society and technology."
Whatever changes the USPS makes, Hogensen says, consultants will be ready.