The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

WARNING: Polls Are Not Campaigns

Posted on | August 20, 2010 | 40 Comments

Instapundit links Fisherville Mike’s caution against over-optimism turning into apathy for Republicans. Meanwhile, Karl Rove is trying to forecast the relationship between “generic ballot” polls and the likely GOP gains in November.

WARNING! WARNING! WARNING!

If all you’re doing is following the national polls — Obama’s numbers down, Republican numbers up — you are seriously underestimating the challenges facing the GOP in House races this fall. Some people are giving outlandish estimates of Republicans gaining of 60 or 70 seats, I’ve been talking to individual campaigns and operatives and, as one operative told me this morning, “I’m just not seeing 40 seats out there.”

Yesterday I talked to a California Republican official who referred to the authoritative California Target Book and said he sees the GOP flipping maybe one – or at most three — of the 34 Democrat-held seats in that state. Considering that California has more than 12% of the seats in Congress, if Republicans can flip that official’s high-end estimate of three seats there, they’d then have to flip 37 districts in the other 88% of the country to take control.

Do the math. It ain’t easy. And given the omens in California — where one Republican says gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman “is looking out for herself and herself only” — it’s discouraging to any prospect that the GOP can flip even one House seat there.

When you start taking the House races district-by-district, looking at individual candidates, historic voting trends in their districts, their campaign funding, their current level of organization, etc. . . . Honestly, it’s scary out there.

All of these Democratic incumbents are sitting on huge reserves of campaign cash, and I don’t know of a single district in the country where the Republican challenger has more money than the incumbent Democrat. (If you know of such a situation, please tell me.)

Worse than the money situation, perhaps, is the lack of precinct-level organization by Republicans. This was a basic problem in the PA-12 special election. With the help of the NRCC, the Tim Burns campaign was able to roughly match the Democrats in terms of money, but the local GOP didn’t have the kind of organizational infrastructure in terms of county and ward committees necessary to mobilize volunteers for door-to-door canvassing operations.

Phone-banking is important, but even the best phone bank is no substitute for a genuine door-to-door campaign, especially when such canvassing is done by local volunteers contacting their friends and neighbors in their own communities. And, as in PA-12, a basic reason Democrats control these districts is because the local GOP is controlled by weak-minded time-servers who have failed to organize effectively.

All this talk about polls and Republican enthusiasm isn’t translating into anything that operatives can see on the ground. “Meet-and-greets are still five or 10 people,” as someone in a key swing district told me.

Think about that: Here is a Republican candidate who stands a reasonable chance of being elected to Congress. The candidate schedules a lunch or cocktail reception in a town — not a fundraiser, mind you, just a “meet-and-greet.” The campaign invites all the local Republicans, and fewer than 10 people show up.

And we’re barely 10 weeks from Election Day!

Politics is about elections, and the evident unwillingness of conservatives to focus on the basic work of winning elections is starting to worry me. There was a big uproar in the blogosphere this week about Rep. Melissa Bean shutting down questions at a town-hall meeting.

OK, what district does Bean represent? Who is her Republican challenger? What do you know about the district and the campaign? If you read my report at the American Spectator, you know a little:

Illinois’ 8th District, running from the northern suburbs of Chicago up to the Wisconsin border, was held by Republican Phil Crane until 2004, and Bush carried the district with 55% of the vote in 2004. Like many other vulnerable Democrats in this mid-term campaign, Bean has refused to debate her Republican challenger, Joe Walsh.

Reporting that kind of basic research isn’t exciting — it’s not a “scoop” that’s going to get a Drudge link — but it’s necessary, and not enough blogs are doing it. A bit more research reveals that Melissa Bean’s got $1.2 million in campaign cash-on-hand, while her Republican opponent’s got just $30,000. Have you contributed to the Joe Walsh campaign?

While we’re at it, here are campaign finance reports on some House races I’ve been watching:

GA-12

  • D – Rep. John Barrow – $665,000
  • R – Ray McKinney – $77,000

CA-36

  • D – Rep. Jane Harman – $202,000
  • R – Mattie Fein – $2,000

FL-22

  • D – Rep. Ron Klein – $2.8 million
  • R – Allen West – $2.2 million

OK, the good news is that Allen West has closed the gap. The bad news is that there’s still a gap.

If even a genuine GOP rock star like West can’t out-raise his Democrat opponent, we should not be surprised that Ray McKinney and Mattie Fein are facing such tremendous disadvantages in funding. Ray just finished a hard-fought primary runoff campaign and Mattie’s report is from June 30, after she’d spent more than $100,000 to win her primary. And neither of their Democrat opponents is showing a multimillion cash-on-hand balance that would put them out of reach if hundreds of conservatives were to start making $10 and $20 online contributions to the Republican challengers.

My point is that winning a House majority doesn’t “just happen” because polls show the incumbent party is unpopular. Victory requires actual candidates running actual campaigns with actual money and actual volunteers in actual districts.

Unless conservatives start paying attention soon, they’re apt to be sadly disappointed on Nov. 2.

UPDATE: The Ace-o-Lanche! Thanks, man.

Bookmark and Share

Comments

  • FenelonSpoke

    Thanks for the warning, Stacy. I am one of those many Americans who economic problems because of a layoff of a FT job for over a year. I did, however, send some money to a “Get Out The Vote” group because it’s that important.

  • FenelonSpoke

    Thanks for the warning, Stacy. I am one of those many Americans who economic problems because of a layoff of a FT job for over a year. I did, however, send some money to a “Get Out The Vote” group because it’s that important.

  • Kojocaro

    Hot air headline:Saudi arabia judge wonders what about paralysis for punishment?

    according to the first troll commie comment on the subject this does not represent sharia but it represents christianity and another troll told someone who opposed abortion to get a lawyer because he is being charged with a hate crime. MSNBC are such Nutjob islam apologists

    BTW thanks for the warning Robert

  • Kojocaro

    Hot air headline:Saudi arabia judge wonders what about paralysis for punishment?

    according to the first troll commie comment on the subject this does not represent sharia but it represents christianity and another troll told someone who opposed abortion to get a lawyer because he is being charged with a hate crime. MSNBC are such Nutjob islam apologists

    BTW thanks for the warning Robert

  • Kojocaro

    btw i was actually referring to the comments at MSNBC

  • Kojocaro

    btw i was actually referring to the comments at MSNBC

  • Kojocaro

    andnotice how that commenter wnet on to it keep your opinions to yourself

  • Kojocaro

    andnotice how that commenter wnet on to it keep your opinions to yourself

  • Kojocaro

    and notice how the commenter went on to say keeo your opinions to yourself*

    my keyboard is messed up

  • Kojocaro

    and notice how the commenter went on to say keeo your opinions to yourself*

    my keyboard is messed up

  • http://moelane.com Moe Lane

    But, remember: activists don’t have to contribute to the NRCC or NRSC. They can just fund the candidates directly.

    Sorry. Over at RedState we’ve discovered that the above is often shorthand for ‘I don’t intend to do anything except bitch about the GOP.’

  • http://moelane.com Moe Lane

    But, remember: activists don’t have to contribute to the NRCC or NRSC. They can just fund the candidates directly.

    Sorry. Over at RedState we’ve discovered that the above is often shorthand for ‘I don’t intend to do anything except bitch about the GOP.’

  • Kojocaro

    amen moe

  • Kojocaro

    amen moe

  • Adobe Walls

    435 ten dollar donations is a couple or three mortgage payments. Ace had a post yesterday? about the NRCC’s strategy of concentrating on the thirty most vulnerable districts rather than the group of thirty second most vulnerable, in other words let/hope that the wave takes care of the thirty first through thirty nine seats the Republicans need to take the house.
    The assertion that the national polls only give an overall sense and should not be taken as indicators of an epic victory is quite correct. Unfortunately we few can’t be responsible for 435 campaigns.
    PA-12 was a special election allowing people from all over the country to get involved if they so chose. The Republican candidate got out flanked on the right, how did that happen? Did he spend too much time running against Obama and not enough against his opponent?
    Ny-23 special election too, I think despite Dede’s betrayal we simply ran out of time.
    I’m no expert at political campaigning but it seems to me that the larger the office the easier it is to “nationalize”. So attempting to nationalize a Senate race is more effective than trying to nationalize a house race I suspect attempting to nationalize a race for Registrar of Deeds would be unproductive.
    The current Bolshevik regime is destroying this country and particularly our economy. If enough of our countrymen are not alarmed enough to produce that wave, if we have so little wind at our backs then this country is toast and it is time for plan B. If we merely take the house by a couple of seats then we will have already have lost the Republic.

  • Adobe Walls

    435 ten dollar donations is a couple or three mortgage payments. Ace had a post yesterday? about the NRCC’s strategy of concentrating on the thirty most vulnerable districts rather than the group of thirty second most vulnerable, in other words let/hope that the wave takes care of the thirty first through thirty nine seats the Republicans need to take the house.
    The assertion that the national polls only give an overall sense and should not be taken as indicators of an epic victory is quite correct. Unfortunately we few can’t be responsible for 435 campaigns.
    PA-12 was a special election allowing people from all over the country to get involved if they so chose. The Republican candidate got out flanked on the right, how did that happen? Did he spend too much time running against Obama and not enough against his opponent?
    Ny-23 special election too, I think despite Dede’s betrayal we simply ran out of time.
    I’m no expert at political campaigning but it seems to me that the larger the office the easier it is to “nationalize”. So attempting to nationalize a Senate race is more effective than trying to nationalize a house race I suspect attempting to nationalize a race for Registrar of Deeds would be unproductive.
    The current Bolshevik regime is destroying this country and particularly our economy. If enough of our countrymen are not alarmed enough to produce that wave, if we have so little wind at our backs then this country is toast and it is time for plan B. If we merely take the house by a couple of seats then we will have already have lost the Republic.

  • Jeff

    cash on hand is not polls or votes either …

    if I am not happy with my rep I really won’t care how much money he/she spends on ads …

    people aren’t unhappy becasue they are ignorant or misinformed (2 things money can fix) …

  • Jeff

    cash on hand is not polls or votes either …

    if I am not happy with my rep I really won’t care how much money he/she spends on ads …

    people aren’t unhappy becasue they are ignorant or misinformed (2 things money can fix) …

  • Rob

    I would encourage y’all to volunteer to walk, donate, or phonebank for your respective districts. I know I am…only walking though for Bill Flores. And Bill is getting a lot of volunteers and donations only by putting a lot of money into it (he use to run a multi-million dollar company).

  • Rob

    I would encourage y’all to volunteer to walk, donate, or phonebank for your respective districts. I know I am…only walking though for Bill Flores. And Bill is getting a lot of volunteers and donations only by putting a lot of money into it (he use to run a multi-million dollar company).

  • Pingback: Warning for Conservatives on Mid Term Elections :: The Lonely Conservative

  • Wondering Jew

    This general post is on target Stacy, but the CA example is a bit misleading. The Dems did an idiotic gerrymander in 2000 to save their incumbents with the net result that almost all of their incumbents cruised with 70%+ of the vote last election while approx. six CA Republican reps are in districts Obama carried.

    The truth is that CA is already drawn in such a way that GOP representation is maximized. It would really take a miracle to knock off more than a couple of the Dem representatives in this state.

    That situation isn’t representative of the rest of the country.

  • Rob

    Meg Whitman beat you to the punch Stacy. Tragically, you are definitely right that pundits like daydreaming too much and not to the grunt work.

  • Wondering Jew

    This general post is on target Stacy, but the CA example is a bit misleading. The Dems did an idiotic gerrymander in 2000 to save their incumbents with the net result that almost all of their incumbents cruised with 70%+ of the vote last election while approx. six CA Republican reps are in districts Obama carried.

    The truth is that CA is already drawn in such a way that GOP representation is maximized. It would really take a miracle to knock off more than a couple of the Dem representatives in this state.

    That situation isn’t representative of the rest of the country.

  • Rob

    Meg Whitman beat you to the punch Stacy. Tragically, you are definitely right that pundits like daydreaming too much and not to the grunt work.

  • NVA Patriot

    IF the thrust of the article is that the Rebubs have a bad ground game – good point. Prior to BHO making to the Presidency, Howard Dean with much fanfare and opposition within his own party embarked on a 50 state strategy. He knew he was going to lose many races, but he tipped the balance of power – and we’re living with the consequence.

    The repubs are split – there’s a conservative wing and an elite wing – one side might he.llp limit government, the other wishes to change the name on the desk and otherwise continue as before.

    The difference this time is the Tea Party. They are America’s 50 state strategy.

    Please believe me, the Dems are going to get a political beating. At a meeting for Frank Wolf in NVA, the Repubs could barely get 50 people to show up. Within a 1 -2 week time, the Tea Party got 180-200 people to show in NVA, on a Monday afternoon to question Frank Wolf. He’s not Rino, but neither is he a conservative and he will not challenge out of control Judicial authority or significantly reclaim control of government through the power of the purse.

    He is next cycle’s problem now.

    Murry working to defeat Jim Moran is the gerry-mandered hill to climb in VA. And it is gerry-mandered. Our job is to win the Governor races to control the next round of re-districtng. We will.

    Keep working it. See Coldwarrior at RedState

  • NVA Patriot

    IF the thrust of the article is that the Rebubs have a bad ground game – good point. Prior to BHO making to the Presidency, Howard Dean with much fanfare and opposition within his own party embarked on a 50 state strategy. He knew he was going to lose many races, but he tipped the balance of power – and we’re living with the consequence.

    The repubs are split – there’s a conservative wing and an elite wing – one side might he.llp limit government, the other wishes to change the name on the desk and otherwise continue as before.

    The difference this time is the Tea Party. They are America’s 50 state strategy.

    Please believe me, the Dems are going to get a political beating. At a meeting for Frank Wolf in NVA, the Repubs could barely get 50 people to show up. Within a 1 -2 week time, the Tea Party got 180-200 people to show in NVA, on a Monday afternoon to question Frank Wolf. He’s not Rino, but neither is he a conservative and he will not challenge out of control Judicial authority or significantly reclaim control of government through the power of the purse.

    He is next cycle’s problem now.

    Murry working to defeat Jim Moran is the gerry-mandered hill to climb in VA. And it is gerry-mandered. Our job is to win the Governor races to control the next round of re-districtng. We will.

    Keep working it. See Coldwarrior at RedState

  • Pingback: Send Out Solder Cards - How to send christmas cards to soldiers?

  • Pingback: DNC Tries to Flush Anti-Bush Ad Down YouTube Memory Hole: FAIL! : The Other McCain

  • http://www.medary.com filbert

    We need to apply two rules:

    First, the Basketball Blowout Rule:

    When you have your opponent down ten, that is a perfect time to increase your effort and get them down 20.

    When you have them down 20, that’s a perfect time to increase your effort and get them down 30.

    When the clock reads 0:00, that’s the time to stop playing and look at the scoreboard (or the poll, as the case may be . . .)

    We need to talk to our neighbors–have them talk to their neighbors, and so on and so on, throughout the country.

    Let people know why things are so screwed up right now, and what they can do to begin climbing out of the hole. You don’t need a political party to do this. All you need is to care enough about where this country is going to talk to your neighbors about it.

    Our message to our neighbors should be, IMHO, a simple one, The First Rule Of Holes: When you find yourself in a hole–stop digging.

    You can’t start climbing out of a hole while making it deeper at the same time. And we find ourselves in a very, very deep hole indeed.

    And, of course, when trying to climb out of a hole, make sure the damn thing doesn’t collapse and bury you alive . . .

  • http://www.medary.com filbert

    We need to apply two rules:

    First, the Basketball Blowout Rule:

    When you have your opponent down ten, that is a perfect time to increase your effort and get them down 20.

    When you have them down 20, that’s a perfect time to increase your effort and get them down 30.

    When the clock reads 0:00, that’s the time to stop playing and look at the scoreboard (or the poll, as the case may be . . .)

    We need to talk to our neighbors–have them talk to their neighbors, and so on and so on, throughout the country.

    Let people know why things are so screwed up right now, and what they can do to begin climbing out of the hole. You don’t need a political party to do this. All you need is to care enough about where this country is going to talk to your neighbors about it.

    Our message to our neighbors should be, IMHO, a simple one, The First Rule Of Holes: When you find yourself in a hole–stop digging.

    You can’t start climbing out of a hole while making it deeper at the same time. And we find ourselves in a very, very deep hole indeed.

    And, of course, when trying to climb out of a hole, make sure the damn thing doesn’t collapse and bury you alive . . .

  • Pingback: Is the GOP Heading for Heartbreak? : The Other McCain

  • Pingback: Ace: “Don’t Get Cocky.” | Little Miss Attila

  • Thorvald

    If it’s possible to do it, the Republicans will ruin it. I actually believe the McCain ’08 campaign was run by infiltrators from the Dem-Commies. There is no other rational explanation for not taking what was known even then about the Dem. nominee and running with it. (Maybe, just maybe, after all, there’s not much they could have done in the face of massive voter fraud: hey, it worked for Kennedy in ’60!)
    There is some strange urge that runs into the minds of some nominal Republicans that will cause them to endorse someone like Amnesty McCain, or keep voting for the likes of the Kagan Five. I think their GOP memebership can be explained by the fact that the Dem-Commies no longer resemble Hubert H. Humphrey, but instead model themselves after Che Guevara and Ho Chi Minh.
    What does it take to send the Commies back under their rocks?

  • Thorvald

    If it’s possible to do it, the Republicans will ruin it. I actually believe the McCain ’08 campaign was run by infiltrators from the Dem-Commies. There is no other rational explanation for not taking what was known even then about the Dem. nominee and running with it. (Maybe, just maybe, after all, there’s not much they could have done in the face of massive voter fraud: hey, it worked for Kennedy in ’60!)
    There is some strange urge that runs into the minds of some nominal Republicans that will cause them to endorse someone like Amnesty McCain, or keep voting for the likes of the Kagan Five. I think their GOP memebership can be explained by the fact that the Dem-Commies no longer resemble Hubert H. Humphrey, but instead model themselves after Che Guevara and Ho Chi Minh.
    What does it take to send the Commies back under their rocks?

  • Pingback: We get the government we deserve … [Darleen Click]

  • Joe

    Obama approval in swing states. He is hurting, but far from out.

  • Joe

    Obama approval in swing states. He is hurting, but far from out.

  • Pingback: All Politics is Local, and Local Politics is Crap « Ric's Rulez

  • Pingback: PRIMARY ELECTION NIGHT HQ : The Other McCain