Remembering Hal Malchow
Picture of Hal Malchow and some of his book covers.
Remembering Hal Malchow

Posted by

If you had worked in politics over the past 30 years, you would have undoubtedly known Hal Malchow; if you had been lucky, you may have known him personally. If you didn’t, I hope you’ll take the time to learn about his story because we all owe him a debt of professional gratitude. Hal was a rare operative who made it his life’s work, improving our collective work, electing Democrats, advancing progressive policies, and protecting our Democracy.

Yesterday, after considerable planning, Hal Malchow ended his life on his terms and left this earth. Like many who read Sasha Issenberg’s story last week, ​​Hal Malchow Is Going to Die on Thursday. He Has One Last Message for Democrats. – POLITICO I had many emotions. My first was shock, then deep sadness, but the next was deep gratitude. Few people in our political world have worked as hard to improve the work we all do, not just for themselves as staff or consultants but for our whole party. Fewer still actually transformed our political work as much as Hal Malchow. Hal was a trailblazer in political direct mail, targeting, and data-informed testing to make our work more impactful. 

Hal Malchow reinvented how we think about political communications. He created new ways of determining who we choose to communicate with and the tactics we use to communicate with them. Hal was the first consultant to develop data models so we could microtarget to decide better whom we should communicate with. He was also among the first to push the notion of testing to ensure we’re using the best content and tactics. You have Hal to thank if you’re part of the Analyst Institute because he co-founded it. 

In many ways, Hal was responsible for my career path – I’ve been a direct mail consultant for 25 years – in large part because of Hal. The first firm I hired as a campaign manager to do mail was The November Group, which he founded in 1990 and later became MSHC. My first business partner, Anil Mammen, who worked for Hal here, convinced me to launch a firm when I knew little about the medium. While some might treat new competition as just that, Hal could not have been more supportive of our new venture. When I moved to Mission Control, Hal wrote a very kind note. He did the same when I launched my new firm, Amplify Power.

I wasn’t as nearly as close to Hal as many other colleagues, but he deeply impacted the work I’ve done for decades. Over the years, I have had many opportunities to interact with him in person and via email. Hal always supported my professional adventures, whether working at competing mail firms or starting new organizations. Our community is famously cut-throat and fiercely competitive. Few colleagues, let alone competitors, were as supportive, especially in my early days of doing this work. 

His end-of-life planning gave me, and many others, the opportunity to share our appreciation directly with him. He graciously took precious time in his final week to respond, and I’ll be eternally grateful for the opportunity he gave to me and others to say goodbye. 

We’re not doing his personal story justice here, but we hope you take time to learn more about him – and, more importantly, from his work. 

Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, son, extended family, and a wide circle of friends and colleagues – I’m looking at you, Trish Hoppey and the Pivot, Emily Parcell Lowe and Josh Grossfeld, Agency, Anil Mammen and the Mammen Group, Joe Fuld and The Campaign Workshop, and many more firms launched by alumni of Hal’s former firms. 

Contributions in his memory should be made to the  Analyst Institute, which you can do here. Rest well, Hal, you’ve earned it.


Get Involved

Subscribe for email updates, including upcoming events, featured job postings, and other news from GAIN Power.