Just what do they think they are doing?
The coming onslaught of commercials, billboards, radio spots, banners, search jacking, etc. focuses on the immediate and short term world of getting a vote. It might be called advertising, PR, bullying, or just plain silly --- but it is not marketing.
Marketing takes (well it should) the long term view of what need needs to be satisfied. In the world of products, and what politician isn't a product at the end of the day, the prevailing wisdom is to focus the needs of a single user defined by a persona. This is our target market - nothing more - and the features align specifically to her. The trouble with the political and election process is that there fundamentally isn't any way to focus on the needs of one segment and still win an election. This flaw creates wish washing, flip-flopping, and some of the best sound bytes that don't really say much.
In marketing we should be able to clearly articulate a benefit statement -- politicians work hard to avoid that in fear of alienating some other group. No wonder they often fail in satisfying our needs.