Friday, November 10, 2006

Wednesday Morning Quarterback, Pt. 2: Helmet Stickers and More.

I didn't want to let the post-election without some very specific shout-outs and shout-downs -- and to run the football metaphor into the ground. So I'm giving helmet stickers to those who made particularly good plays and one game ball to the best all-around performer. In addition, some will have to run some extra laps in practice for boneheaded plays. And as often happens after the big game, a couple of players need to be cut.

Helmet Stickers

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) – Not only did they win big, they produced a pair of ads for Sherrod Brown’s race that must go down as among the best anywhere this cycle. The first was the “Work Together” ad which zoomed slowly in on a photo Mike DeWine and Pres. Bush palling around, superimposed text about the number of times DeWine voted with the President all to the soundtrack of kids singing “The More We Work Together.”

The second hasn’t appeared on YouTube and I only saw it on TV once. The soundtrack was the kids chorus again, this time singing “If You’re Happy and You Know It Clap Your Hands.” For the visual the spot offers shots of regular-looking folks, sternly looking into the camera – definitely Not Happy and resolutely Not Clapping. That’s intercut with text about Ohio’s decline in the DeWine years.

The ads were brilliant, among other reasons, for breaking the mold of the negative ad. No grainy black-and-white shots of DeWine with an unflattering facial expression. No minor-chorded, bass-heavy music or portentious announcer. As a result they catch the eye and seem at the same time harder-hitting and less mean-spirited.

Judy Hanna. For Most Improved Candidate. When I first saw Judy during the primary, she was frankly awful. Her public speaking will never be described as Churchillian, but by the end, she could more than hold her own. Similarly, she stiffened her spine as the campaign wore on and became increasingly willing to match Coughlin blow for blow. Her radio and TV ads of the last week again were far from perfect, but they were simple and effective.

But above all, Team Judy went after it like no other campaign. Every event I went to, Judy’s campaign was there in force. She was the only candidate to get to Bill Press in the 6:00 a.m. hour and from reports was up until the wee small hours each night stuffing envelopes and dropping literature.

All of which turns out to be terribly important, even if she personally didn’t win. Estimates are that Republican spending in the race will approach two million. That’s money they didn’t have to oppose Brian Williams or Steve Dyer or Sue Morano who did win. Sometimes the most important player isn’t the one who caught the ball, it’s the one who drew the double team. Judy drew the double team.

Summit Co Ground Game. Got the voters to the polls and won big. Beat the well-financed and endorsed Councilman-at-large Michael Callahan. Won the county for the three judicial candidates. Made serious runs at entrenched incumbents John Widowfield and Kevin Coughlin. The statewides carried Summit huge. Special mention to Exec. Director Christine Higham, party organizer James Hardy and Combined Campaign county coordinator Tamela Lee.

Next Step for Akron and APS Students. This may sound self-serving, but in point of fact, I served as little more than an advisor for the grassroots effort. My friends Amy and Sheila were the real powers and parents, teacher and students made a huge effort.

Redhorse. As he announced on his blog, he was campaign manager on the Tom Sawyer campaign. For the most part, what happened on that campaign stays in Vegas, but I will say it was an unusual campaign in many respects, including a large, four-county district, a fairly obscure set of issues and some nontraditional constituencies. Red kept the parts moving and got the campaign to the finish line. Congrats, mon ami.

Game Ball:

Ted. I mentioned it in the Winners/Losers post, but it bears repeating just how hard he worked for the rest of the ticket. We on the press list got Media Advisories about the three or four stops Ted, Frances and Ted's brother Roger made, just about every day. And usually, Ted was rallying with either a statewide candidate or some local candidates or both. He also cut robo-calls and half-and-half mailers for legislative candidates. And as the downstate moderate, generously shared rally space with NEO liberal Sherrod Brown.

At one point I was hearing grousing that Ted should send some of his money down ticket. In retrospect, making each race his own while he was polling in the sixties was a highly effective strategy.

Extra laps

Ohio House Caucus. I’ve met and liked some folks working their, but the ads I saw were underwhelming. You know what I thought of the anti-Christine Croce ad in support of Steven Dyer. Their TV ad against Tom Cousineau was even worse. It morphed Tom into Taft and claimed that Taft “did nothing while illegal immigration soared.” Great. Now we’ve conceded that illegal immigration is somehow a problem for Ohio, but any idiot is going to say “What’s the Governor of Ohio supposed to do about that? This is crap!”

The Media. They wanted to say that the Republican campaign ads were worse than the Democrats’, but they just couldn’t. They wanted to report that Republicans were running vote-supressing scams, but again couldn’t pull the trigger.

The media supposedly hates dirty campaigning. But if they really want to make a difference, they need to call out those engaged prior to the election. By Monday TPM had recordings of fake robocalls up, but the media still dithered until after the election. Even the supposed liberal equivalent of Fox News – NPR – couldn’t call out the Republicans.

I suppose this could be a helmet sticker for the right wing noise machine making the press afraid of its own shadow.

Plunderbund. I went back and forth on whether the GOP GOTV infiltration hoax was an amusing practical joke or a dangerous stunt messing with someone else’s election. Then Tuesday night I heard that the Ohio GOP was accusing Dems of “intimidating voters at the polls, trying to infiltrate their GOTV effort and breaking into their headquarters.”

All bullshit. But it’s hard to move the media toward reporting campaign shenanigans by Republicans if they have a kernel of truth to their “Dems do it too” riposte. Yea, the righty blogosphere going Chicken Little about this was funny to watch, but the risk of real damage was too great.

DeWine’s Graphic Artist. I’m still amazed the Brown campaign was able to parlay the doctored WTC photo into a real issue. After all, the photo was a representation of something that actually happened. It’s not like the towers never burned.

In the end, I supposed it was a metaphor. Like the Foley scandal was a metaphor for the Power at allCosts mindset of Republican Congressional leadership, the doctored photo was a metaphor for the Republicans’ penchant for overplaying the 9/11 card. At some point that well was going to run dry, but in fact DeWine's ad poisoned the water table.

Barbara Sykes should have to run extra laps for both her debate performance and her nearly invisible campaign. But if history is a guide, she will most likely quit the team.

Cut from the team

John Kerry. He’s scooped up the loose ball! Here he goes down the side line! 40! 30! 20! 10! OH NO, FUMBLE!! He dropped the ball on the five yard line! Then he danced in the endzone like he still has it!!!

Leon Lett thinks that was the dumbest play ever. As if Kerry had a chance in 2008, now the mere thought of him running is a joke that's actually funny.

Robo Calls. Wishful thinking I know. But in a way, the Republicans running fake annoying robos suggests that they know the jig is about up. Studies are starting to show that robos are losing their effectiveness. They also get in the way of phonebanking for GOTV. Besides, an end to robo-calls would make Scott Pullins obselete, and that's nothing but good.

If you have any ideas for stickers, laps, cuts or, for that matter, additions to the Winners/Losers list, feel free to drop them in comments.


Anonymous said...


Add a sticket to your helmet for your work.

Add a second sticker to Team Hanna. Tough race, and they worked their asses off.

Add a second to SumCo Democratic Party. Once again, turnout was strong, Dems won nearly everything in sight, and the e-night party was sweet too!

Anonymous said...


Optic Scan Voting - i know it seems oddly primitive to be considered electronic voting but it has provided summit county voters a relatively trouble free system. elections are a hybrid function of government that require a hybrid approach. Filling in the dots keeps the paper trail embedded in the process while allowing for quick tabulation. we avoid the vote flipping touch screens and trouble prone printers without having to throw millions of extra dollars at even more equipment.

i work for a large county to the north and after throwing tons of cash at more equipment, consultants and training they were sweating bullets just to get the election off without another disaster occurring. i think its safe to say the pen is mightier than the touch screen.

Scott Piepho said...

Excellent points all 'round, Matt. I was thinking the same thing. I would add that computer equipment inevitably malfunctions sometimes. When touchscreen is down, no one votes. When an optical scan reader goes down, people can still fill out their ballots.

Anonymous said...

agree completely with matt, the optical scan system is the way to go.

slightly more laborious then tapping a screen, but with the benefit of leaving a tangible history of my vote.