LA-2: Inside the War Room

Let's assume for a second that supporting Karen Carter was the right thing to do, and I think it was, there are a number of heroes who stepped up and did the right thing along the way.  Most notably, EMILY's List got involved in the race before they could have possibly suspected Karen's position on choice was going to be the focus of Jefferson and his allies' attacks.  They provided fundraising help that ultimately catapulted Karen to a cash advantage over Jefferson, top-quality researchers with presidential campaign experience, and communications assistance that helped control the message until the final days.  In my eyes, it seemed they essentially ran the campaign, not because they were outsiders who thought they knew better, but because they had the ability to take the "meta" to another level.  There was always a good balance between local knowledge and national expertise, one that just happened to come up short ... way shorter than anyone expected.

I saw polling data that showed Karen up 20 points with 3 weeks to go in the race.  I later found out that tracking polls showed her up several points heading into election day.  Both of those were obviously way off-the-mark.  So far off, in fact, that I sat in a hotel room with the press secretary on election night helping with talking points for a concession speech that was never even thought about before that moment.  There was a victory speech, for sure, but I think the loss (and its brutality) shocked pretty much everyone from the candidate to random supporters at the Double Tree Hotel on Saturday.

The "demographer" laid out a list of key precincts the campaign needed if they were to carry the day.  As the video shows, they were tracked throughout and seemed to hit their marks as the phone calls came in.  There was no panic, only enthusiasm in the "war room" as the final hour drew near.  But much like the pollster's results, the marks weren't even close to representative.

The video above hopefully ties together the paragraphs in this entry, one of my last on LA-2.  It's a view inside the campaign war room most folks (even those who work on campaigns) never get to see.  Many of the staffers in the room were part of the EMILY's List team; the posters on the wall were the key precincts as outlined by the campaign demographer; and as you can see, there is no panic.  Such little panic that they stopped recording precinct counts at 6 P.M., two hours before the polls closed.  To be sure, there were still folks out in the field delivering votes in key areas, but little did anyone know the race was long over by that point.  

Two more posts left from me on my experience in LA-2.  The first will be a campaign post-mortem: more looks from the inside, what we, the netroots, accomplished, and what we can learn moving forward the next time MyDD sends someone into the field.  The second will deal more with post-k reconstruction, making it a priority in the new Congress, and '08 leadership on the crisis.  Ultimately, helping the region is going to take more than any one representative can bring to the table -- be it Karen Carter or William Jefferson.  The unfortunate bi-product of this election is that the representation they do have is totally neutered because of his legal issues.  If the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are going to get the help they need, it's going to take presidential candidates adopting the issue -- and a Speaker/Majority Leader willing to make recovery a priority.

Tags: Hurricane Katrina, karen carter, LA-2, William Jefferson (all tags)

Comments

9 Comments

Re: LA-2: Inside the War Room

I don't know how anybody can do reliable polls at all in this city, the way the population is so scattered.  You've got half the city living elsewhere but still registered to vote.  So many people are still registered at their pre-K address, but their phone numbers are different and where they actually live, while they try to get back into their homes, is in a different precinct, or different parish, or even a different state.  How can you possible track that in a statistically meaningful way?

If the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are going to get the help they need, it's going to take presidential candidates adopting the issue -- and a Speaker/Majority Leader willing to make recovery a priority.

Please please please.

And when 2008 comes around, I know Mary Landrieu misses the mark on a lot of netroots issues, but she is the most effective representative we have in Washington right now when it comes to our issues.  If y'all decide to attempt to take her down, you do so at our peril.  And if you fuck it up, we're the ones who pay the price.

by ray in new orleans 2006-12-11 02:49AM | 0 recs
Re: LA-2: Inside the War Room

How can you possible track that in a statistically meaningful way

agree. first thing i thought of while reading this post, having performed campaign demographics/precinct analysis for a relatively stable area. Population mobility is extremely difficult to account for, both at precinct-level and district-wide.

by dblhelix 2006-12-11 06:30AM | 0 recs
Re: LA-2: Inside the War Room

Ultimately, helping the region is going to take more than any one representative can bring to the table

Thanks for saying that. I think it gets lost in the hysterial about how we are just some dumb/corrupt/ignorant fools who don't 'deserve' national assistance or attention.

by lb0313 2006-12-11 03:01AM | 0 recs
Re: LA-2: Inside the War Room

The word is "byproduct," not "bi-product."

I'm just sayin'.

by uncle fister 2006-12-11 03:02AM | 0 recs
Re: LA-2: Inside the War Room

Is it possible Karen Carter's campaign managers were too comfortable with polls and advertising? She should have taken more risks, forcing Jefferson to debate and responding to criticism levelled by Harry Lee. I think it's worth questioning what clout the BOLD organization has in New Orleans post-Katrina. Certainly one needs to be tapped into the cultural institutions of New Orleans to earn votes -- maybe more than in any other place.

by schroeder915 2006-12-11 04:59AM | 0 recs
Re: LA-2: Inside the War Room

Tim: I hope you read this as I made the same request yesterday in another thread. I predicted Jeffersons win precisely because of my own staff experience with Stacey Tallitsch in LA-1.

Also the other New Orleans posters here are correct. How in the world could outside pollsters, who have a spotty record at best do reliable statisically significant polls in a city still destroyed.

This is a city where at least a 1/3 if not a half of it's traditional citizens are GONE.

So...here's my request....get out and do a ton of 'man on the street' interviews in that district. I would like to hear from the people who've so given up that they didn't vote; the people who voted for Jefferson and why and the people who voted for Carter, why and a follow up question: Why did Jefferson win? to be asked everyone. You could do everyone a great service with this information.

I tire of the idea that continues to be taken as a political reality that two campaigns on either ends of the country can be conducted and polled the same way by 'experts' from other areas. Especially in special circumstances where the election system and the history of tolerance for corruption runs so deep.

This was a old style information push in a city that doesn't trust anyone. Carter made a real strategic error if she relied on oursiders to tell her what the district was thinking. She needed to understand what her district wanted...not what someone else told her they wanted. Grassroots, regardless of your opinion, don't have much impact in Lousisana as it is machine run.

As I said in my own post at SSP and in my longer at my blog Political Dogfight, Jefferson's win was entirely predictable. Had I known, which I only found out yesterday, that Jefferson had Mayor Nagin's endorsement, I'd have known that Jefferson had a mortal lock on the outcome.

Not one incumbent, state or federal, lost their seat in this election cycle. After the mismanagement, graft, corruption, death and disease...that's a mind boggling statistic.

But if anyone had their eye's open, Jefferson took 30% of the vote in the Nov. election in a huge field. So what did that mean for the run-off?

Even more votes.

Sad but true.

Do the interviews and help us understand why and how the people of LA-2 voted this way? Telling us about resources does little good as it doesn't add to our understanding of the vote itself.

And we need to understand the underlying emotions that caused this terribly unusual political reality.

by BigDog 2006-12-11 06:51AM | 0 recs
Re: LA-2: Inside the War Room

Tim, great job with the LA-2 election.  I'm glad MyDD had someone on the ground for this last month, it was a very valuable investment.

What I'd like to see in the future is more discussion about the state of netroots in the district, and efforts to coordinate netroots groups, if they need it, or to at least communicate the "word on the street" in the netroots, if they don't need coordination.  I think that is probably the one thing that a national blog like MyDD is best positioned to do to a) help elect our candidate and b) build infrastructure for the future.

Thanks again for the great posts!

by Shai Sachs 2006-12-11 07:00AM | 0 recs
Re: LA-2: Inside the War Room

to many people in the war room; too few in the streets

by nolarussell 2006-12-11 07:17AM | 0 recs
Jefferson Parish was the deciding vote

Over at Gilliard's news blog, commenter "Matter" posted the following:

Steve, your explanation is only part of the story. Here's some more angles you're not familiar with:

Why the Unindicted Bribe-Taker Won
Reply to: pers-246841558@craigslist.org
Date: 2006-12-10, 10:42AM CST


At first glance, Dollar Bill's victory is confounding. But then a closer look at the election results makes sense of the outcome. In a parish-level breakdown, "http://www.nola.com/elections/1209_retu rns.ssf, you can see that while the margin was a tight 4 points in Orleans Parish, Jefferson Parish slammed the door on Karen Carter, 71% to 29%.

These results in JP can be attributed to several factors. Derrick Shepherd, the ultra-right wing asswipe, was the main player. If the Republicans weren't so racist, he'd be one (so would Jefferson for that matter). Shepherd cynically campaigned for Jefferson, under the theory, which has been advanced here before, that Jefferson will be indicted and forced to resign, thus giving him another shot. Shepherd also found Jeff's right-wing positions dear to his perverted heart.

Likewise, right-wing racist Harry Lee actively campaigned against Carter, taking umbrage at being called out on his racism in that Spike Lee Katrina joint.

So there you have it. Right wing racists in Jefferson Parish brought the victory for Dollar Bill. We can take comfort in the fact that yes, Dollar Bill WILL be taking a trip to Club Fed in the future. Hopefully soon, but as long as it happens, I'll be satisfied.

--        

Also--regarding "Karen Carter, who will probably get the seat in the end"--no, I don't think so. Carter has no base in Jefferson Parish, which has become a key deciding factor in this district. Derrick Shepherd came in third in the primary, and if it comes down to Shepherd vs. Carter in the special election, he may well be the winner, as he's much more of a Jefferson clone than Carter. He'll also likely get Jeff's support (unless one of Jeff's daughters runs, which has been Jeff's preferred succession plan).

-- matter

by Phoenix Woman 2006-12-11 10:01AM | 0 recs

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