REFLECTIONS AND LEARNINGS FROM A LOCAL CAMPAIGN
with National Implications….
I was at a GOTV MEETING (Get Out the Vote) last night. It was pretty sad. I am working for a very well qualified Democrat in an overwhelmingly GOP District running for a seat in the Missouri State House. I have only been involved in the campaign for two months- called in as part of an effort to promote this individual.
She is a professor in business, a respected business consultant, the CEO of her own farm feed company, a community college administrator, and a long time member of town and county governing boards that are mostly GOP to which she got easily elected.
She is a Blue Dog Democrat, a moderate conservative: pro-life, opposed to non-documented amnesty of any kind, a 2nd amendment advocate, small business advocate and a champion of balanced budgets. She leans right on all of these issues. Where she leans left is in support of public education, the expansion of medicaid, maintaining the levels of public for families with minor children and the disabled, tax reform.
And yet every ad by her opponent paints her as a Lefty, Lefty, Liberal….pro-choice, for amnesty, anti-gun rights, and an opponent of charter schools (which she is not), single payer socialized medicine (which she is not), and huge giveaways to those who will not work. The ads, and his speeches, do not even try to make a case. They offer no examples. They offer nothing from her words. All they do is throw up DEMOCRAT, THE CHARGES AGAINST HER, HER FACE AND…..
They also paint her as A BFF with Barack and Michelle- it’s like she’s over at the WH every weekend for a BBQ. She has never met either person (and actually worked for the Romney campaign in 2012) and has never spoken either name. The ads take a photo of her and a photo of Obama and put them side to side looking at each other. The text says that Obama has his eye on her as someone he can count on. Clever.
Remember this a Missouri State House race not a Congressional Race.
A lot of money has been spent on the race by the GOP….by our estimates six times the average. Why? There is no way she was ever going to win. Why throw so much money at so small a race.
They are doing it because it is a very effective strategy, especially in midterms. Specifically…
- They have the money, why not spend it.
- The halo affect. Money spent attacking an “Obama” candidate hurts all Democrats and her district is close enough to the St. Louis ring suburbs that it might have an effect on those races too.
- Promotion of all GOP in the quest for a Wave Election so the GOP can claim a Mandate instead of a Close Call.
- Folks really hate Obama and Democrats and love slapping them down.
- Dems just are not very good at standing up for what they have done, and what they want to do while slapping down the “do nothing” “have no public plans regarding what they wll do” GOP, lack the money to punch back in the media, and the will to do so.
- Dems are lazy voters. They lack party discipline. The unions used to bring it but they are a sliver of what they once were. So big money gives the message: “Don’t bother voting.” In fact that has been a very direct GOP media message.
- Dems are not loyal. Big spending on the other side reinforces why they should be unhappy. “What have the Dems done for you?” By implication, “we” will do better. Far left groups assist in this by their attacks on the Democrats, in the person of the president. Did you see the Hispanic protests and heckler at two Obama events this weekend? Yes, they will be FAR happier with a GOP Senate…yeah, right.
- Both GOP and Dems are ignorant. They do not, as a body, know how government works. They do not know the candidates, party performance, issues, or strategies. They have impressions from ads, tv talking heads, and their friends. They have vague ideas from the same sources. They have their own internal biases. All of it comes down to a gut reaction which leads them to either vote or not vote, and if they vote, to vote “from the heart.”
The thing is that most of those I have met in her campaign who support her cannot do what I just did. They cannot articulate why she would be a good member of the State Legislature. They cannot explain her positions. They cannot counter the Obama link. She has very little money….about 1/10 of her opponent if you include indirect, not-for-profit, and national support.
What about her opponent? He is lifelong GOP….joined the Tea Party when it became popular and has backed away in the last three years. He used to be pretty moderate (I voted for him) and understand how the State Legislature functions. He was part of a number of compromises that worked very well for the state. I know him. He is a good guy and he used to for medicaid expansion because without it the state gets stuck with huge emergency room and medivac bills, a lot of people who are a lot sicker because they do not get on going care, and an unhealthy work force because in this state you have to be making less that $400 a month and have assets worth less than $2000 to qualify for medicaid now and as a result the working poor (and there are a lot of them) are not insured, not getting care, and the core of our lower class work force.
BUT, now he is opposed to it. Why? “It’s socialize medicine.” “We don’t need it. We are doing just fine.” “The cost is too great.” “We don’t want any more giveraways to takers.” I suspect, I hope, he does not mean any of it. But it does sell.
P.S. Where does the money come from? Well th Dems money comes from three sources: direct donations to her campaign (50 percent), her own money (25 percent), and state Democratic Party funding (25 percent). She has no national support or outside not for profit group money.
His money (about 10 times as much as hers) comes from direct donations to his campaign (25 percent), his own money (5 percent),State GOP Party funding (25 percent) and not for profit group money (40 percent) and national GOP Party funding (5 percent)