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Would you enjoy running a political campaign?

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Dick Whitman, Jun 14, 2011.

  1. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    I have a friend from college - my managing editor when I was the editor in chief of the school rag, and vice versa when he was editor in chief -who ran a successful United States Senate campaign last November. As in, he was actually the top dog/campaign chairperson on the campaign, and helped his party turn a seat. Though I'm not in his camp politically, I was happy for him, and a little bit jealous, truth be told.

    I feel like I've come a long way in understanding things like polling, etc., etc., since three or four years ago, when I was a total newbie to sites like Nate Silver's and reacted emotionally to the ebbs and flows of campaign news instead of rationally. I've actually learned a lot on this site, for starters, including from people I've clashed with.

    Wondering what you guys would think about running a political campaign some day? Or if some of you have been involved in the past? Seems like a fairly natural transition for newspaper people. I mentioned my friend's college newspaper background. And, of course, David Axelrod. I think one of my biggest difficulties would be sticking to talking points instead of the substance of complicated issues, having to address petty non-stories constantly, etc., etc. But I would love the analysis of polling data, the getting out and planning events and so forth and so on.

    Just something to kind of chew on and talk about around the bar here, as election chatter starts to heat up.
  2. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    I have no interest in working on an election campaign. Frankly, the pettiness and back-and-forth that goes on would drive me nuts if I were in the middle of it.
  3. jr/shotglass

    jr/shotglass Well-Known Member

    I'll let y'all guess my answer.
  4. Dirty tricks - petty grudges - small minded - OK my guess is that you'd be a natural for a losing campaign.
  5. jr/shotglass

    jr/shotglass Well-Known Member

    Hmm. Thanks for that.
  6. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    I don't see how anyone could actually believe in anything and run a campaign. Even the successful ones change their focus dramatically every time a new poll comes out, and they sell out former supporters/endorsers along the way. Obama didn't say a peep about banking regulation until mid-September 2008 and then it became his #1 closing issue.
  7. dooley_womack1

    dooley_womack1 Well-Known Member

    No way in hell. My soul ain't for sale. And having to deal with all the logistics, and having to wade through what all the consultants say, and keep on the speechwriter's ass.
  8. Bob Cook

    Bob Cook Active Member

    What do we do now?

  9. Mark McGwire

    Mark McGwire Member

    That's just silly, from start to finish.

    Good campaigns change dramatically every time a new poll comes out? Well, no. Good campaigns have message discipline.

    They sell out supporters? This is politics, not a seventh-grade battle of the bands. Supporting a candidate doesn't buy you undying loyalty.

    And, finally, yeah, you can talk arcane points of policy until you're blue in the face, but that doesn't win elections. And, yes, when the financial sector melts down, probably the candidates are going to talk about it. How does this cause consternation, again?

    In short, cynicism is cheap. Campaigns are about the express purpose of getting votes. You want better campaigns? Get a better electorate.
  10. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    I didn't say any of those things shouldn't be part of campaigns. I answered the question by saying I wouldn't want to do them. But, notwithstanding my deference to your knowledge of polling procedures, there is chapter and verse of candidates radically changing their beliefs from one thing to another, or dropping an issue that had to that point been their main focus, because of poll numbers. Dick Morris was the king of it. I don't want to trivialize the whole thing with the childish "flip-flopping" insult, but when George H.W. Bush used "voodoo economics" and then happily went along with it to be the VP nominee and strengthen that party, that is just something that if I were working on a campaign I wouldn't want to be in that position. And those things happen in every campaign. In the Obama campaign with banking regulation, there's a difference between talking about the events of the day rather than suddenly developing a dogmatic belief in something you didn't care about 24 hours previous.

    Regarding the dropping of former supporters, that New Yorker story about the Obama campaign told a pretty compelling tale in that regard. Again: It's a dirty game and, to answer the question again, not one I'd like to play.

    The part I bolded, though: I'm not sure if you are trying to answer me, but you're doing more to confirm my position. The electorate sways to the whims of the polls and the latest buzzwords, the politicians sway to that, the electorate sways again ... you spent your whole post trying to say that doesn't happen and then you say we should get a better electorate to stop that from happening.
  11. Mark McGwire

    Mark McGwire Member

    Because you prefaced your post by saying you don't see how someone can believe in anything and work for a campaign, and that's absurd.

    And you missed my point. Good campaigns go about remaking the electorate, where they can. Rove actually did tons of great work in that regard. Read up on their use of creative micro-targeting -- and, yes, they stole that from Mark Penn, but they actually made it work, in pockets. Some of it is brilliant and hilarious at the same time. People who owned jet skis and went to church skewed heavily Bush -- and when you think about it, if you were doing well enough to buy a jet ski between 2000 and 2004, yeah, you were probably persuadable -- so they bought lists of each, cross-referenced them, and targeted the hits with personal attention in places like Ohio and Florida. The Obama campaign took it a step farther by combining a massive data mining operation and a medium-view targeting operation added to voter registration drive efforts. They remade the electorate in states like Colorado and North Carolina by targeting "good" demographic groups for Obama who were underrepresented on the voter registration rolls. Those efforts closed off McCain's map before the financial meltdown was a blip on the radar. (And as an aside, McCain ran a pretty solid campaign up until the Palin pick, when he was going for the hail-Mary, anyway. From there, well, it was a pretty spectacular display of what not to do)

    Campaign work isn't about buzzwords and sitting around waiting for Gallup to come out, is what I am saying. Truly. There's a new couple polls every day.

    There's a lot more to campaigning and campaign work than the national trend stories, is what I am saying. And good campaigns don't fit the description you offered. And, as an aside, there are always issue and referendum campaigns to work on, too, if you can't find a candidate worthy of your pure heart.
  12. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    Mark, you seem to be taking my post as a personal attack. I gather it's your profession and so maybe that's natural. But I would say that, yes, I could see myself working on an issue campaign but not for a person. Perhaps from the inside it feels like molding a message and getting your beliefs to the right voters. From the outside, however, it looks like there is much casting about for issues and clinging to those issues when ultimately the candidates don't really care about them. And that is very cynical.
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