PA-06 Analysis - Top-down campaign is a loser
by Joe in Wynnewood PA, Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 07:22:35 PM EST
PA-06 has cropped up somewhat frequently amidst the various credit due/credit stolen diaries and comment threads.
Here's my take for posterity and, more importantly, as a starting point for a different outcome in '08.
I've no doubt that if the campaign had found a way to jettison the oh-so traditional media campaign in favor of almost any flavor of innovation, or managed some kind of coherent plan to counter the robo-call semi-sneak attack (I say semi because it wasn't all that different from the call overload problems of '04), or managed to bring the field operation in Berks County up to the level of the Montgomery County field, things would have turned out different.
But what I really think did us in was something more fundamental. What I think did us in was the curse of the top-down, command & control campaign. There was no defined mechanism for bubbling up or propagating innovative ideas from the large cadre of volunteers. There was no recognition of the potential and unrealized value of perhaps several dozen experienced grassroots volunteers (who if given some resources and let lose could have done great things) and no room at all to influence any of the mail and media effort that sucked up the lion's share of over $2.5 million spent on the campaign. As a result, there were no innovative commercials, no innovative mail pieces, no innovative response to the robo-attacks and no innovation-driven, grassroots-fueled excitement for Lois to seep into the general 6th district electorate.
As I looked at a random sampling of precinct results, especially in Chester County, the drop-off from Rendell and Casey to Lois was huge. Clearly Republicans and independents who crossed over in droves for the top of the ticket crossed back before they got to Lois. Yes, I understand that Swann was toast and ran a lousy campaign and that Santorum's negatives were so high as to give him a nosebleed, none-the-less, the Murphy Campaign ought to have been able to hitch a more effective ride on the available coattails; it didn't.
In just a relatively few minutes talking with a co-worker about the rubberstamp meme falling flat as Gerlach successfully painted himself as an independent voice on the strength of the votes the GOP let him stray on we came up with 2 effective concepts - juxtapose his "I'm Bush's Man" '04 campaign with this year's "I'm Independent Man" campaign & do the flounder thing; instead of "Voted 84% with Bush", how about "Voted 100% with Bush when the GOP chips were down".
Talking with Barbara McIlvaine Smith's campaign manager (STILL fighting to win the 156th PA House seat - down by 16 votes before hundreds of absentee and provisional ballots are counted) for 20 minutes just last night and came up with "bring your toddler" late morning coffee or "bring your wall-bouncing pre-teen to the gym" or "bring your shopping list and our high school/college kids will get your groceries while we chat" house parties.
There were dozens and dozens and dozens of great ideas (and lots of clunkers that got tossed) that floated up to the top or just got done by the DIY grassroots during the Dean for America and Kucinich campaigns, continued by Democracy for America and Progressive Democrats of America members and fed into many dozens of local, state and federal races across the country.
This is what is needed in PA-06 (and elsewhere) if we're to send the likes of Gerlach packing, even (especially?) in expensive media markets like Philly. But it isn't going to come from the next campaign manager out of DC, that is for sure. It's either going to come from what grassroots we have here in the 6th or it isn't going to come at all and that would be a major league shame.
[Cross posted at DailyKos)