Thursday, March 06, 2008
Inquiring Minds Want to Know: Why Did The Voters Not Figure Out Who Was The Better Candidate?
My candidate for Ohio House District 40, Vic Harris, lost. He made a good showing in his run against the party establishment and received 44% of the vote. I was taken in by the overwhelming positive feedback I was receiving from my campaigning efforts and succumbed to my own wishful thinking. I really thought Vic was going to win. So when the results started coming in, I was somewhat floored and very much disappointed. Grrr.
The previous day, a visitor to my blog at DaytonOS wrote, "I know you’re new to this whole political thing, but I’m not sure how much more ignorant about politics you can be?" Ouch. This angry writer reflected the fact that I've been stepping on some toes at the local Montgomery County Democratic Party. But, the truth is, I am pretty ignorant. By the time in early January, that Victor filed and I got involved, there were only two months in which to campaign. It is a good question as to how someone who really had expert knowledge in campaigning would have proceeded.
Campaigning is all about marketing, because the sad truth is, the majority of the voting public seem to have no motivation to educate themselves. Victor’s yard signs, in bold letters identified him as “Democrat.” When I was making my door to door effort, one person informed me that, yes, he was planning on voting for Victor, because he always votes for a Democrat. I didn’t want to change his mind by telling him that both Victor and his primary opponent, of course, were both Democrats. And anyone so fuzzy in their thinking -- who knows? -- when this Democrat got his official voting slate from the Democratic Party showing who the Democratic Party officially endorsed, he might have completely forgotten about Victor.
Almost one-third of the ballots showed a blank vote for state representative. I would not have guessed that so many voters who came through cold rain to the polling places would not even bother to vote for their state representative. My candidate, shown above with his toddler, Jack, got 8000 votes. His opponent got 10,000 votes. But there were 8000 blank votes. Who were these blank voters who didn’t care enough to vote for a state representative, and how could Victor have gotten their votes? I don’t have a clue.
And, as it turned out, there were over 2000 early voters. This year, voters could show up at the Board of Elections and vote early. This is a different category of voters than absentee voters. This early voting started about two weeks before election day and neither Victor nor I understood its importance -- and we didn't take the opportunity to actually check out what was happening at the Board of Elections. Evidently, the Party had people in place at this early voting place who distributed the slate of endorsed Democratic candidates -- showing Victor’s opponent as the officially endorsed Democratic candidate. Evidently, many of the uninformed voters simply took this recommendation. The results of early voting were skewed heavily in favor of Vic's opponent. Had Victor had someone there to distribute his literature, he, no doubt would have changed this result of early voting. I am kicking myself for being so ignorant.
Of course the things that I am most ignorant about are all those factors of which I am still ignorant. I just think there must have been a way to win this campaign. Victor so clearly was such a much better candidate -- but not enough of the voters figured that out. Victor spent $15,000. He sent out two mailings; he produced two 30 second TV commercials and each had quite a bit of air time; his wife wrote and mailed about 1000 personal notes that included the family picture. The Dayton Daily News gave him two huge endorsement editorials, plus several small ones. Like I said, I thought we were winning. What was lacking was individual campaigners like myself. The Party effectively quashed those active Democrats who might have helped and we didn’t find a way to find others in the short time of the campaign.
I am glad that I made the effort to rage against the machine and to do my part to help Victor. I think good eventually will come from it and there is reason to believe that this campaign effort will have a positive influence on the Montgomery County Democratic Party. I also think that Victor's future political career has been helped by this effort. I hope so. And, I learned a lot and pushed back my own ignorance, I think, a little.
I posted this article on DaytonOS: How Gerrymandering Defeated an Outstanding Candidate And Sent a Weak Candidate to Columbus