IL-14 Roundup #5

in a race like this one, after the financial disclosure reports are put up, there's still things to watch for.  first, there's the personal funds contributions reports like this one (PDF), this one (PDF), this one (PDF), this one (PDF) and this one (PDF) from bill foster. these are paired with reports of opposition to personal funds like this one and this one from john laesch along with this one, this one and this one from jotham stein. these are great fun for people running against a self-funder -- well, when the fec has a working majority.  right now, there's not a thing that the fec can do.  you can blame bush, if you want, for that, too.

then there's the 48 hour notice for contributions in excess of $1,000 or more for the 20 days before an election.  these tell us who's still aggressively raising money -- which is more important, since the millionaire's amendment has been tripped in this election (allowing laesch and stein to raise considerably more than $2300 from each contributor).  foster has raised at least $18,900 in new monies that required 48 hour notices.  laesch has raised at least $5,500 in new monies that required 48 hour notices.  and stein has raised at least $4,100 in new monies that required 48 hour notices.

foster racked up four more local newspaper endorsements this week: the aurora beacon news, the daily herald, the elgin courier news and the oswego ledger-sentinel.  it seems that foster received all the newspaper endorsements in the district.  laesch did, however, pick up the endorsement of the niu student newspaper.

there were several accounts of the cbs debate: the daily herald, cbs' own version and the beacon news, another debate sponsor. the daily herald also covered a recent foster mailing, where he called himself a "paul simon democrat." 

I asked Simon's daughter, Sheila Simon, if she'd seen the ad. She hadn't. But the former member of the Carbondale City Council certainly didn't take offense.

"Certainly lots of Democrats around that state have annual Paul Simon dinners," she said. "Anyone who wants to pursue Dad's line of thinking and associate with him that way, we're always happy to say yes ... It would give him a big kick."

the beacon news published this article on the candidates:

"I'm not a politician" has been the well-intended, but now common, refrain offered by Democrats in the campaign to replace Rep. Dennis Hastert in the 14th Congressional District.

Meant as a way to distance themselves from party politics and business as usual in Washington, the phrase has provided another common thread linking candidates Bill Foster, John Laesch, Joe Serra and Jotham Stein.

From a policy-making standpoint, the quartet's overall philosophies align fundamentally and closely when it comes to, among others, withdrawing troops from Iraq, border security and reducing the middle class tax burden.

Agree as they might, the candidates often are the only ones able to point out what makes them different

then there's the attention given to how much money in the race -- especially on the republican side.  the beacon news wrote about the $1.6 million jim oberweis dropped into the race.  the chicago tribune also had a story on the money angle.

The race to replace former House Speaker Dennis Hastert in Congress is turning into one of the most expensive, most bitter and, possibly, most confusing primaries in Illinois this year.

Most expensive because Republican candidates Jim Oberweis, 61, of Sugar Grove, state Sen. Chris Lauzen, 55, of Aurora and Democrat Bill Foster, 52, of Geneva are combining to spend millions.

Most vicious because Oberweis and Lauzen are regularly ripping each other.

And possibly most confusing because the candidates are running not only to replace Hastert next year, but also in a separate primary to complete his unexpired term this year. That means 14th Congressional District voters will cast ballots Feb. 5 in both the regular primary election and the special primary. Once that dust settles, the special general election to finish Hastert's term will be held March 8.

"Many observers view this district as kind of a bellwether. If the Democrats win on March 8 that's going to signal a big year for Dems in November," said Matthew Streb, a Northern Illinois University political science professor.

A Democratic victory would be considered an upset in the solidly Republican district, where President Bush won 55 percent of the vote in the 2004 election and Hastert got 60 percent in 2006.

air america had laesch on the air. laesch's blog efforts continued.  they asked for votes for laesch to be the dfa grassroots all star (he didn't move on).  daddy4mak wonders why laesch hasn't been front paged at daily kos (donna edwards has been).  downtowner is looking for help in her precincts.  the laesch campaign held a health care forum. richard bluestein is asking his readers to contribute to laesch (the same post appeared elsewhere, i don't know how started it). jassietay2 asks do you believe in miracles? and rick flosi thinks that ron paul supporters will find something they like in laesch.

in addition, bill foster gave an interview. his closing television ad is available here. yinn wrote about foster's endorsement by the daily herald. foster also had a new web ad out.

democrats report that the while the laesch campaign has yet to mail, the california nurses association sent a targeted mailer calling laesch the right person on healthcare.  and quentin young recorded a robocall for laesch in the same vein.

the foster campaign reports that:

Obviously, the campaign is getting hectic as we close in on primary Election Day.  Bill was out in the snow this morning greeting commuters at train stations and reminding them to vote, and he'll be contacting voters door-to-door, on the phone, and in public places every day through the election -- except for Super Bowl Sunday.

We're getting a lot of positive response from NIU students, and we're opening up another field office in Sycamore, near DeKalb.

i asked all the campaigns what was their final message to voters.  the foster campaign replied:

Well, of course, get out there and vote twice on Tuesday, February 5!

Bill Foster is not a professional politician, and he's never going to be the loudest voice in the room.  But as a scientist, businessman, and someone who's lived the 14th District for over two decades, he'll work hard to represent his constituents, act as an agent of change in Washington, and find solutions to the problems facing this country and this district.

they also noted:

The candidates on the Democratic side have, on balance, run a positive campaign talking about the issues.  The voters, not just in the primary but also in the special election in March, will notice and respect that.  People are sick and tired of the relentless personal attacks and politics-as-usual that we've seen among the Republican candidates in this race.

We appreciate all the support we've received in the community so far, from the grassroots on up, and look forward to building even more support in the coming weeks.

while all the campaigns are focused on their various gotv, i did want to report the victory parties, as they were lined up.  the laesch campaign is having their victory party at their campaign headquarters (46 W. Downer Place, Aurora).

Parking is available free after 5pm in LOT C. This is on River St, West of the office.

the victory party for the foster campaign is at:

Tavern on the Fox, near our field office in Aurora.  We wanted to provide a space for our volunteers and supporters to have a good time and watch the returns -- not only for our race, but also for Super Tuesday.

outlook

i read with interest how all three democrats were confident in their (own) victory.  perhaps foster (personally) less so than the others.  strangely, he's probably the one who should be the most confident.

laesch told one reporter that he had the highest name recognition of the three, which may have been true -- before the campaign started.  but after hundreds, maybe thousands, of gross ratings points, at least 8 mailers and the rest of the effort by just one opponent, laesch has no reason to think that's true now.

a number of laesch supporters have been aghast that i put so much stock in communicated message.  in my experience, message decides elections and you have to put the money in to get the message out.  foster has certainly done that, taking every opportunity to get his message out there.  this will be doubly important as barack obama drives turnout in the democratic race here and in the rest of illinois.

green and gerber's authoritative book on mobilizing votes ("Get Out the Vote") has some interesting statistics that really puts this in perspective.  on page 94 (table 8-1: Cost Effectiveness of Get-Out-the-Vote Tactics), the yale professors note that (from their research) direct mail wins one vote per 177 recipients (in partisan households).  door to door, with a persuasion script, garners one vote for every 14 CONTACTS with voters.  leafletting, which downtowner describes here gets you one vote for every 66 registered voters who see it before election day.

these percentages really sets the stage for what we will see next.  foster has dropped 8 mail pieces.  there are approximately 50,000 democrats in il-14 (nice round number), but professional campaigns don't mail to voters, they mail to households.  and smart campaigns incorporate new information, so that the first round of mail is always a bigger drop than the last round.  doing some rough calculations, i figured that the foster campaign has dropped 265,000 pieces of mail.  what does that mean?  well, for the laesch campaign to have equaled the votes mobilized just from the foster mail drop, they would have had to make actual contact with 21,008 voters in the district.  doing so would have required 1750 hours canvassing (according to the gerber-green statistics) or 218 8 hour days canvassing.

that's not even taking into consideration the reported 70 field staff that the foster campaign has out, or the likelihood that the foster campaign has knocked on as many, if not more, doors than the laesch campaign.  nor does it consider the fact that one report says that the laesch campaign was leafletting, not canvassing, which has a much higher contact to won vote ratio.

campaigns have advanced considerably from the "mr. smith goes to washington" days.  in the end, laesch didn't get his message out.  they have been resting on their 2006 laurels, hoping that voters will remember laesch without much reminding and reward them for their grassroots enthusiasm.  i still believe that progressives can win elections virtually anywhere, including in il-14, but not unless they are willing to make the sacrifices needed to win (like raise money, hire an experienced staff, communicate their message to voters on a mass scale, etc).  only one candidate will have the funds and the resources required to win this seat starting on wednesday.  it's highly unlikely that voters will turn their backs on this fact and choose a lesser known candidate...

Tags: 2008 democratic primaries, Bill Foster, IL-14, John Laesch, jotham stein (all tags)

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