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View From The Trail (Part 2 of 2): An Iowa Senate Campaign Chair Weighs In

[1]((This is second installment of a 2 part piece, to start with Part 1 click here [2])) 

In the end, where we failed was to reach what is popularly called the Low Information Voter. These are voters who for whatever reason get very little to no political information, and what they do get is confined to a very narrow set of media vehicles. By targeting local news and other prime listening/watching avenues, the Democrats were successful in reaching those voters, supplemented by their usual other logistical operations of doorknocking, calling, and absentees.

We did quite a bit better this time on the logistical side with doorknocking, calling, signs, and candidate events. The Victory centers, though not perfect, were an improvement on the past. I believe we can build on that by better coordination with the county central committees and their individual headquarters operations. I believe this will be possible primarily by getting as early of a start as possible in the 2014 election cycle, and begin coordinating our logistical effort, as well as raising the necessary funds within the same timeline to support those efforts.

A big area that helped us was absentees. Republicans have greatly improved on their game from even ten years ago, when Democrats would be the vast majority of absentee votes. Though they are still ahead, Republicans largely narrowed that lead in 2012. We can build on that success in 2014 to get even more marginal GOP voters to cast a ballot in our GOTV operations.

One factor that hurt us in a big way was that the top ticket in Mitt Romney had short to no coattails. Though it didn’t seem to effect incumbents much, any challenger or newcomer in an open seat, from a preliminary analysis of the numbers, was drug down as voters seemed to vote the downticket to the supervisor level in line with their vote in the presidential. This will not be an issue so much in the mid-terms, at least for the state races, particularly if Governor Branstad would run again.

We also had a difficult time competing with money. We always have structural problems in this area due to the usual suspects of Democrat contributing groups, especially the unions, but part of this was from to the unpopularity in the leadership change of the Republican Party of Iowa. They simply were not in the game, leaving the heavy lifting to be done by the PACs and the Legislative Majority funds as well as the local entities and the campaigns themselves. It is necessary I believe that we have all entities engaging in 2014, and make whatever changes necessary at the leadership level to ensure that we have all the assets we can have helping us to win the mid-terms. I believe better targeting will also use our funds in most efficient and effective way possible.

The best advice I can give to Iowa GOP activists wanting to gain more congressional seats, as well as winning a majority in the state senate, is to not dwell to long on our failures or disillusion ourselves with doom and gloom. Rather, properly analyze what went both right and wrong in 2012 and build on that, then go right back at them for 2014, and most importantly begin as soon as possible. We are not by any means out of the picture, and I believe control of both the legislature and governor is well within our grasp.