Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Incumbent Rule is: Destroy Your Opponent’s Favorability by Labor Day or You’re in Deep Trouble

In ancient times, the public face of campaigns began after Labor Day. In modern times, if an incumbent politician hasn’t crushed his challenger’s favorability by Labor Day, he or she is at best in for a nightmare contest, but very likely a new career.

The ultimate practitioner of this earlier, more aggressive and very expensive strategy was Barack Obama. He began his attack on Mitt Romney in Colorado months before Romney was to be nominated. The goal was to make Mitt into an unsympathetic plutocrat. It mostly worked by July 2012.

Today, it’s Cory Gardner who’s the target of Democratic independent committees and Udall’s own effort to drive up Gardner’s negatives before Labor Day. The current emphasis is a multi-million dollar ad campaign aimed at women using abortion and the Hobby Lobby decision to put Gardner on the defensive. It is accompanied by daily online campaign communications styled as media releases that attack on a host of issues. Also, the Internet is awash with ads calling Gardner an extremist.

Polls in late August will be able to tell if the strategy is working.

Some examples:

“FLASHBACK: Garner cheered radical personhood effort at 2008 event”
“Are voters concerned about a bill that could outlaw both abortion and IVF?”
“Anti-discrimination order a stark contrast to Gardner’s anti-LGBT agenda”
“As Udall votes to bring jobs home, Gardner sticks to outsourcing pledge”
“Gardner pushes to outsource Colorado jobs”
“Gardner’s radical economic agenda would hurt middle class Coloradans”
“Gardner’s votes to slash workforce training would hurt Colorado workers”

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