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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Washington GOPers Blame National Party for McKenna's Loss

Posted by on Thu, Nov 29, 2012 at 8:44 AM

Jim Brunner has an interesting analysis of the Washington governor's race and the important role get-out-the-vote (GOTV) campaigns played in Democrat Jay Inslee's victory.

Washington Dems spent $2 million on GOTV, hiring 40 paid field organizers, plus another 15 from Inslee's campaign. The Dems made a million phone calls and knocked on 300,000 doors over the final five days of the campaign alone. By comparison, the state Republican Party and the Rob McKenna campaign spent only $300,000 combined on their ground game, hiring just 20 paid field organizers.

So, how do local Republican apologists explain this dramatic mismatch?

The state GOP was left to fend for itself after the Republican National Committee reversed an earlier plan to spend $400,000 on a get-out-the-vote campaign here, [state GOP chair Kirby] Wilbur said. The national Republican Party also declined to spend significant money in Washington's U.S. Senate and House races.

"This get-out-the-vote stuff is not rocket science, but you cannot do it without money," said former state Republican chairman Chris Vance, who said the lack of national GOP spending here was a big change from previous elections.

Uh-huh. Let's be clear. The Republicans didn't lack for money. Rob McKenna and the "independent" campaigns supporting him outspent their Democratic counterparts by about a million and half dollars. So McKenna and the state GOP had plenty of cash available to spend on GOTV. They just didn't.

"They chose to spend money on TV," state Democratic spokesman Benton Strong tells me, while "we invested heavily in a strong, far-reaching get out the vote program. It's a clear difference in what we see as important," says Strong. "For us, relationships with voters are invaluable."

It was also a clear difference in strategy. And the Democratic strategy just proved more effective.

In fact, Washington Dems typically enjoy a huge GOTV advantage. That's one of the reasons I was relatively confident that Inslee's 2-3 point lead in the polls would hold up on election night: With a strong Democratic ground game in place, Democratic turnout was unlikely to be disappointing. And in the end, the three counties that gave Inslee his biggest margins—San Juan, King, and Jefferson—also had some of the highest turnout rates in the state.

Local Republicans can blame the national party all they want, but the Dems simply ran a better campaign. Dems had a better strategy, they had better ads, and in Inslee, they had a better candidate. So all the other excuses Wilbur et al put forth to explain McKenna's loss are just that: Excuses.


Comments (11) RSS

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MrBaker 1
As it turns out, Rob McKenna is a Republican. Their policies are less popular, so, he lost.

Seeing one more ad, or having somebody knock on my door to speak at me in person, is not going to change Republican policy. It's true. Apparently, losing at the polls will not change their policies. It's also unlikely that blaming the amount of money they did or didn't have will change their policies.

Maybe they should take a look at their policies.
Posted by MrBaker on November 29, 2012 at 9:03 AM · Report this
I’m a Dem PCO and walking my precinct is part of my job .. I’m unaware of a Republican PCO in my precinct. GOTV activities require cajoling and reminding ... but we had issues that people really got behind this time. I walked precincts w/o PCO’s and encountered voters who were excited to vote, were aware of what was on the ballot ... despite what the national news media says, I encountered very little apathy.
Posted by olive oyl on November 29, 2012 at 9:04 AM · Report this
If Dems are so well organized in our state, why is the state senate in danger of switching to Republican? Serious question.
Posted by NotYourStrawMan on November 29, 2012 at 9:09 AM · Report this
Goldy 4
@3 I'd suggest poor recruitment. It's not like Senate districts are any different than House districts. So you'd expect a pretty similar distribution.

Also, the Democratic GOTV effort focused mostly on turning out Inslee voters. In a race this close at the top of the ticket, they didn't have the luxury of discriminating at the local race level. So local Democratic candidates in close races wouldn't have benefited as much from GOTV as Inslee.
Posted by Goldy on November 29, 2012 at 9:24 AM · Report this
Jay Inslee actually called me personally during his campaign. He already had my vote and some of my hard-earned cash as a donation, but the fact that he, and not a robot or surrogate, called to ask for my vote was impressive to me.

Posted by Fizgig on November 29, 2012 at 9:26 AM · Report this
theophrastus 6
Every person i spoke with about the governor's race, except the pundit class, mentioned early-on something akin to: "well, even if one detested Inslee, you can't vote for McKenna because of that tea-party rogue stance he took against Obamacare"

so i really think that was one of the major issues.
Posted by theophrastus on November 29, 2012 at 9:27 AM · Report this
Considering the closeness of many races, and the exorbitant amounts of money thrown into TV & radio spots by both sides, one has to truly wonder whether it's really worth the cost. I think many voters (and potential voters) would say they're generally turned off by political ads, which tend to go negative against the opposition. If that's actually true, then direct-address, door-to-door GOTV type activities would definitely seem to be the wiser investment.
Posted by COMTE on November 29, 2012 at 9:51 AM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 10
@8 *Maybe* in the case of lists of people known to be sympathetic. But I did a few phone-bank-from-home calls to Ohio or PA to a list of numbers I downloaded in 2004 or 2008 (I forget), and I gave up after a few because people there were NOT AMUSED at being the focus of so much attention. Not sure but I thought that was supposed to be a list of Dems. They might be a little better about someone showing up on their doorstep, but I'm skeptical.
Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on November 29, 2012 at 10:12 AM · Report this
Baconcat 11
I think part of the problem was the WSRP's attitude. They were so certain they'd win that why in the hell would the national party come and help them? It's amusing to think that a campaign that got out the white board to insist they'd won the election after a 40k vote deficit opened under them thinks they expressed enough need to the national party.

No, the WSRP is a novelty in this state due to terrible leadership. Kirby Wilbur, Randy Pepple and Larry Stickney are terrible at what they do and should be booted.

Take the silly up-and-comers in the party with 'em. The WSRP's young voter outreach efforts were hindered by doe-eyed 20-something dullards who basically nodded along with the top leadership without providing a useful means of capturing the 18-35 vote. "Newspapers like McKenna! Rob has gay people working for him! Folks from ASUW like Rob! Chicks for Rob! Stay the course on social issues, Rob! You're doing fine!"
Posted by Baconcat on November 29, 2012 at 10:22 AM · Report this
Honestly... I don't think this was so much an issue over policies. It seemed to me McKenna was doing what he could to distance himself from some of his previous, more right-wing/idiotic statements and like would've tacked much more to the middle as a governor.

I think he really lost because he acted like a little bitch. In the debates and in his commercials. A whiney little bitch. Compare that to Inslee's lovable lug image, and there ya go.

Posted by dak7e on November 29, 2012 at 10:43 AM · Report this
Timrrr 13
I was with you, Goldy, right up until,
...and in Inslee, they had a better candidate.

Glad he won --voted for him-- he was right on all the issues.

But as the debates showed, on a strictly "good at being a candidate" basis, we need to get a grip and be honest with ourselves: McKenna kinda walked all over Inslee for most of that race.
Posted by Timrrr on November 29, 2012 at 12:01 PM · Report this

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