‘The New Primaries’…a Disaster in the Making

[Originally published at The Political Dogfight as part one of four this is a slightly edited version.]

I seriously question the value of the new Primary System developed by the DNC then jumped on by other opportunistic states. February 5, 2008 looms large as a result of these changes.

David Brooks recently had a column about the advice he had for Republican candidates. It was his contention that all the primaries on Feb. 5, 2008 wouldn’t be the decisive ones. He still thought the traditional first three primaries would set the media tone. And he thought the Media tone would set the race on the first Tuesday of Feb.

While I don’t agree that the first three primaries will decide the race, and I don’t agree with Brooks in general, I think he is absolutely right about a slightly different topic: Media Tone

Think of the situation today as seen in the daily papers and on the news programs! According to them there are only 3 real candidates in the race: Senator Clinton, Senator Obama and John Edwards…and John Edwards is coming in a weak third in terms of media coverage. (Or his was until the unfortunate announcement of his wife’s recurring health issues.]

This issue of Media Tone/Media Noise is the real problem.

A few candidates are sucking the Media Oxygen out of the atmosphere and leaving other truly qualified candidates without the ‘free’ media (news) that they need to become more widely known. If this is happening to John Edwards think of the others.

Think of Joe Biden or Chris Dodd. Whether they are your favorites or not, they deserve to be heard and considered. Each of them has substantive experience and each is just as substantive as Hillary Clinton, Obama and John Edwards.

  (More on this topic another time: Rhetoric vs Substance and Goverance in the Election of 2008. )

Will candidates that aren’t getting the ‘free’ media of the Clinton’s etc., have even a fighting chance in 2008? Will they be able to raise the $25-$40Million they need by the fall? If they can’t will this silence voices that should be heard?

I think that forshortening the race does the country and the party a diservice. Now we have an Invisible Primary already in progress with people being labeled winners and losers….and it’s all in the media’s programming…..it’s pure Media Noise.

Since it has no actual voting today, this Primary, since it’s all in the Media and nowhere else, I call ‘The Invisible Primary’. And that Invisible Primary is in full swing.

I despair that we will again nominate people who seem great in short primary seasons,(Gore who was annointed and Kerry who came from nowhere in the most unusual Primary in memory), and then we saw they didn’t have an Authentic voice on the campaign trail! They didn’t know how to remove the Political Mask.

I believe that the American people hunger for an Authentic Voice, not the politicians mask that so many wear and use to speak. My desired outcome would be to have a nominee with an Authentic voice that is backed by large scale experience and augmented by roadmaps to tangible goals with benchmarks built in to those roadmaps.

Rhetoric, however seductive, will not win. Fundraising shouldn’t be a qualifier either for the nominee.

  This is Part 1 of more to come on ‘The Invisible Primary’. Stay tuned for more parts and metrics on the numerics of February 5, 2008.

End-of-Quarter Blog Fundraising Asks

cross-posted from the new ActBlue Blog

On Monday I posted a tip for spicing up ActBlue fundraising pages by embedding video into ‘asks’. This is a very powerful fundraising tactic–especially when the asker and audience have an existing relationship.

Over at Calitics, a great community blog in California, they’ve taken that suggestion and run with it. I’ve included a screenshot of their pitch to the right (click on it to view a bigger version in a new window). Besides the video, Calitics? blogger Brian uses several of the principles of fundraising to make a really compelling plea for his candidates.  Some of the successful elements they have included:

  1. Create Urgency- The pitch is for end-of-quarter donations.  Brian clearly states that there?s a deadline before which donors need to fundraise.  And he timed his pitch just a couple of days away from the end of quarter.
  2. Be Specific- Rather than overloading their page with a dozen candidates, Brian stuck with three candidates that have a common theme.  The majority of ActBlue donors give to an entire page’s slate of candidates?remember that when choosing your slate of candidates.
  3. Make it Personal- Brian, a Calitics blogger, is asking his own blog readers to donate. They have an existing relationship and a degree of trust built up. Potential donors are more likely to give when asked by someone they know and the pitch is personal.  They?re less likely to donate when spammed by someone they don?t know.
  4. Think Longterm- The Calitics? ask offers the option of giveing once or of setting up a recurring contribution. Recurring donations are growing in popularity on ActBlue, with over 1000 users having chosen that option for a variety of candidates.   If a donor can?t contribute a lump sum amount at once, recurring contributions allow them to invest in the page in installments.

Most of these elements are included in their Calitics ActBlue fundraising page as well. To improve the impact, some ideas might be to include the text from the Calitics post next to the video on their ActBlue fundraising page itself or add the recurring contribution buttons below the embedded video. If that happened, their ActBlue fundraising page could be e-mailed around to additional friends or registered users of the Calitics blog extending the end-of-Quarter ask into a new medium.

One other thing that might help the effort is to set a goal, similar to what the bloggers at Raising Kaine have done (screen shot at left again, click to enlarge). They are shooting for $20,000 to all their endorsed candidates by the end of the state quarter on Saturday, giving a real sense of momentum to their efforts. Adding some text about that immediate goal on their fundraising page would be perfect to tie it together with their blog posts.

While it is early in the cycle, bloggers can build upon their early adopters to make effective asks in creative ways that fit their audience. What ideas might you add?

Weekly Open Thread: What Races Are You Interested In?

In 1930, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, in an effort to alleviate the effects of the… Anyone? Anyone?… the Great Depression, passed the… Anyone? Anyone? The tariff bill? The Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act? Which, anyone? Raised or lowered?… raised tariffs, in an effort to collect more revenue for the federal government. Did it work? Anyone? Anyone know the effects? It did not work, and the United States sank deeper into the Great Depression. Today we have a similar debate over this. Anyone know what this is? Class? Anyone? Anyone? Anyone seen this before? The Laffer Curve. Anyone know what this says? It says that at this point on the revenue curve, you will get exactly the same amount of revenue as at this point. This is very controversial. Does anyone know what Vice President Bush called this in 1980? Anyone? Something-d-o-o economics. “Voodoo” economics.

Prediciting possible gonzales replacement for when he retires.

I was thinking about who the hell the Bush administration would bring in for AG once “The Great Gonzales” retires and I had a horrifying thought.  It’s a wonderfully terrible idea that could either save or destroy them.  Here goes . . .  Attorney General George “Hakuna Macaca” Allen.  The guys a lawyer and a loyal “Bushie” in need of a job.  If he serves as AG for the next two years, he’d have a better chance of claiming a senate seat should warner retire.  The question is, what would this do for/to the Whitehouse?  On the one hand allen will probably attract more scandals than a lighting rod attracts lightning.  On the other hand, IT’S GEORGE ALLEN AS ATTORNEY GENERAL!!!!!!!!!!!  Some may say that while he’s a lawyer, he’s not the most qualified.  Exactly, he’s a bushie.  That’s why I’m worried about him getting the job.  What effect if any would this have, should it come to pass?

Server Issues

The SoapBlox network has been bitten by network issues since the afternoon, which is why you’ve been having difficulty accessing us today.  It sucks, but hopefully the problems have been ironed out and the tubes unclogged now.  Sorry for the inconvenience.

AL-Sen: Ron Sparks Reacts to Blog Buzz

Good news travels fast.  Ron Sparks, our potential challenger to Republican Senator Jeff Sessions next year, is already addressing questions in the local media about the recent blog buzz surrounding his rumored bid:

Sparks was elected to his second term as commissioner last year, winning 62 of the state’s 67 counties. Recently, several political blogs have begun pointing to Sparks as the leading contender to challenge Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions in the 2008 elections. Sparks acknowledged he was aware of the speculation and said he was not ready to rule anything out regarding his future political ambitions.

“We’re not taking out any possibilities,” Sparks said. “The people of Alabama know my record … and what I stand for versus the people in office now.”

Sparks said he would discuss the possibility of a Senate run with his advisors and hopes to make a decision in a “few weeks or months.”

Feisty.  And speaking of blog buzz, let’s take a moment to survey some of the Alabama netroots’ takes on a Sparks for Senate bid.

Captain Plaid:

Ron Sparks can serve up some genuine populism that would give him a serious shot in Alabama. If the damned consultants don’t Dino him to death I really expect he could take old Jeffy out. Run Ron Run!

The Haze Filter:

Can Ron Sparks defeat Jeff Sessions?

I think he can if we can show enough Alabama citizens how he is more progressive for the everyday concerns of Alabamians. For me this is a beginning for my support for Ron Sparks to run against Jeff Sessions and I want to emphasize that this is nothing more than a beginning with high hopes!

Between the Links (non-partisan):

I do, however, plan to vote for Alabama’s senator in 2008, and I would rather write in my cat, “Spook E. Cat” than vote for Sessions. I don’t know a whole lot about Ron Sparks except that his name is on gas pumps, but if he’s at all intelligent, I’ll welcome a Democrat I can vote for.

Birmingham Blues, and Doc’s Political Parlor also chimed in.

Additionally, a site called Sack Sessions has just sprouted up, and they’re looking to recruit local bloggers for “a collaborative effort of the Alabama netroots created to assist in the electoral defeat of Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, III (R-AL)”.  Sounds like it could be fun to me!

Race Tracker: AL-Sen

NH-Sen Shaheen Leads Sununu By 10 Points In New Poll

A new ARG poll released today shows former New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen with a 10 point lead over incumbent Republican Sen. John Sununu.

Jeanne Shaheen  44%
John Sununu  34%


2007 & 2008: The Strategy of the White House Office of Political Affairs

Many of you already know the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s held a hearing today entitled “Allegations of Misconduct at the General Services Administration.”  One of the allegations explored by the committee was the misuse of GSA funds and resources for political purposes, and the document on which this allegation is based is a Power Point presentation delivered by Karl Rove’s aide Scott Jennings.  The presentation, delivered 26 January 2007, is the official 2007 and 2008 strategy of the White House Office of Political Affairs.  Included therein are graphs and charts pertaining to district PVI, Presidential party performance in midterm elections, overall Presidential party performance during a particular President’s term, House seat statistics, including PVI, party affiliation in recent elections, partisan identification trends, data on the Republicans’ 72 hour program, voter registration data, turnout data, case studies on the success of the 72 hour program and lists of vulnerable House, Senate and gubernatorial seats.  While some of this information is presented in a skewed manner, some of this data is very useful.

Top 20 House Seats Republicans Will Target
order of importance

3 CA-11 (McNERNEY)
4 OH-18 (SPACE)
5 IN-09 (HILL)
6 PA-10 (CARNEY)
7 PA-08 (MURPHY)
8 KS-02 (BOYDA)
9 PA-07 (SESTAK)
11 NC-11 (SHULER)
13 WI-08 (KAGEN)
16 GA-12 (BARROW)
17 PA-04 (ALTMIRE)
18 NY-19 (HALL)

order of importance
3 NC-08 (HAYES)
4 NM-01 (WILSON)
6 IL-06 (ROSKAM)
7 CT-04 (SHAYS)
9 VA-02 (DRAKE)
10 WY-AL (CUBIN) – indicates she may retire
12 NV-03 (PORTER)
13 NY-25 (WALSH)
14 OH-15 (PRYCE)
15 NY-29 (KUHL)
17 MI-09 (KNOLLENBERG) – indicates he may retire

seats are listed in alphabetical order
AK-AL (YOUNG) – indicates he may retire
CA-24 (GALLEGLY) – indicates he may retire
CA-25 (McKEON) – indicates he may retire
CA-41 (LEWIS) – indicates he may retire
CA-52 (HUNTER) – indicates he may retire
DE-AL (CASTLE) – indicates he may retire
FL-10 (YOUNG) – indicates he may retire
IL-10 (KIRK)
IL-14 (HASTERT) – indicates he may retire
LA-01 (JINDAL) – indicates he may retire
MD-06 (BARTLETT) – indicates he may retire
MI-03 (EHLERS) – indicates he may retire
NC-09 (MYRICK) – indicates she may retire
OH-16 (REGULA) – indicates he may retire
PA-15 (DENT)
VA-11 (DAVIS) – indicates he may retire

in no particular order, as a map illustrates the strategy

in no particular order, as map illustrates the strategy

Alaska, Wyoming, Idaho, Texas, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Illinois, Michigan, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Delaware, Rhode Island and Massachusetts are considered noncompetitive

in no particular order, as strategy is illustrated with a map
LA-GOV (BLANCO) – they note this is a 2007 race

in no particular order, as strategy is illustrated with a map
MS-GOV (BARBOUR) – they note this is a 2007 race
KY-GOV (FLETCHER) – they note this is a 2007 race

Utah, North Dakota, West Virginia, Delaware and New Hampshire are not considered competitive

Although some of this information is dated, I do find it very useful.  How do you view this document?

Karl Rove’s Take on the 2008 Senate Races (and Thad Cochran)

(Does Karl Rove have “the math” once again, or is this for real? – promoted by DavidNYC)

[Cross-posted at my blog, Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races.]

Hearings were held on allegations of General Services Administration (GSA) misconduct, specifically using GSA staff, time, and resources for Republican partisan political purposes. Think Progress has more and YouTube has clips from the hearing.

Included in the hearing was a PowerPoint presentation from the White House Office of Political Affairs (i.e. Karl Rove’s desk), and one of the slides was titled “Battle for the Senate 2008.” States were broken down as “Republican Offense,” which includes six states, “Republican Defense,” which includes 8 states, and “Not Competitive,” which includes 19 states (though the math wizards in Rove’s office listed it on the slide as “21 states”).

The six states listed under “Republican Offense” are Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota. No huge shocks.

The eight states listed under “Republican Defense” are Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, and Virginia. Mississippi?!?! Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Oregon are the obvious top five Republican vulnerabilities. And Virginia and New Mexico are both purple states with possible retirees (even before the Domenici phone call scandal).

But Mississippi?!?! The only Democrat to make Mississippi competitive, at least in a top-tier (i.e. more competitive than, say, North Carolina or Kentucky, which are both listed under “Not Competitive”) sense, is former state Attorney General Mike Moore. And it is believed that Moore will only step up if incumbent Republican Thad Cochran retires.

So, does Rove have inside info that Thad Cochran is planning on retiring, after all? Certainly provokes curiosity. The Guru will keep an ear toward these developments as they unfold.

Call for Guest Bloggers

Although I only post comments at this site, I want to alert everyone here of a guest blogging opportunity at JindalIsBad.com.  Because Markos linked to the site at DailyKos, the site is now the fifth entry on the Google websearch page for Bobby Jindal.  This is an excellent opportunity for anyone who wants experience in front page blogging and focused opposition research.

Write jindalisbad(@)gmail.com if you desire to disseminate information on Bobby Jindal’s problematic record and serve as an expert on one of the most heated gubernatorial battles during the 2007 election cycle.  This is also a great opportunity for a young blogger or a blogger from Louisiana to create a name and a reputation for him or herself in the progressive blogosphere.