Thursday, September 15, 2005

the money's on talent

I got an e-mail from Jean Carnahan today (mass-mailed, of course). She's all excited about the latest poll data on the Missouri senate race. It's a dead heat, and the Dems are already crowing victory.

Well, I called a few of my subterranean friends yesterday, and, at least on the gossip level of this race, things don't seem quite so rosy.

Word is the Missouri Democratic Party is a disorganized mess. They're rarely meeting, and they haven't come close to meeting their fundraising goals. So far, it's looking like Claire McCaskill's campaign is going to ride, at least in the beginning, almost entirely on Big Democrat Money from Back East. More on that later...

Meantime, I decided to look at what evidence there is in the public record. I snooped around the FEC's website for a while last night and dug up Senator Jim's most recently quarterly report (Claire's aren't up yet). It's 574 pages long, so I skipped to the good stuff -- at least the stuff that looks good at first glance: The disbursements. That's where you can get an idea of how Talent's campaign is shaping up.

Well, Duh! He's gearing up to smash Claire.

Talent has doled out tens of thousands of dollars to high-powered GOP consultants and fundraisers. They're all heavily credentialed folks who are right there in the inner-circle of the Great Republican Election-Winning Machine.

Senator Jim spent a few thousand, for instance, on the services of Capital Campaigns of LA, run by Anne Dunsmore, who was head of finance for Bush's campaign in California (and, oddly, according to FEC documents, a "PGA Tour Caddy").

Our senator gave even more money -- about $100,000 to Steve Gordon and Associates, owned and operated by a man of the same name who was one of Bush's "Pioneers," meaning he pledged to raise $100,000 for the 2004 election.

This is all pretty much "no shit" stuff, I know. The Elephants don't want to lose Senator Jim's seat, and they're rallying the troops. But, so far all anyone seems to be talking about is the meaningless dead-heat scenario.

And here's a tidbit I found fascinating, which ought to be talked about:

Talent spent $31,350 on "research" research from American Viewpoint of Alexandria, Virginia. I poked around on their website and was delighted to see that our recent governor's race was one of their case studies for success.

Obviously, Claire doesn't come off looking very good in this story:
When Matt Blunt first decided to run for Governor in early 2003, he was planning on running against a very unpopular incumbent whose job approval was under 30%...

(But then Claire won the primary)

The day after the primary the Missouri press focused on McCaskill as a giant killer and the new front-runner in the race for Governor. The premise of Matt Blunt’s vision for Missouri did not change, but the comparison of his background to McCaskill’s did. Through a post-primary benchmark and dial testing of potential advertising, several things became apparent:

1. Matt Blunt’s background as a naval officer was a strong selling point and demonstrated the leadership necessary to be Governor.

2. Claire McCaskill was very vulnerable on issues dealing with past personal tax issues as well as dealing with her husband’s nursing homes.

3. While Matt Blunt’s values matched closely with out-state Missourians, Claire McCaskill’s did not.

4. The three key swing groups were women, suburban voters and seniors. American Viewpoint conducted extensive sub-group analyses of the voting blocs to identify key issues that would move them to the Blunt side.

This all reminds me of a road trip I took in fall 2004, when I listened over and over to a radio commercial Claire ran in rural Missour-uh.

But I'll save that story for a later post...

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