Sunday, May 27, 2007

NRCC, Web 2.0, and Character

Tucson, Arizona. . Anyone paying the slightest attention has heard of the robo call campaigns the NRCC is starting, with Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords early on the list. The NRCC, accurately smelling a difficult 2008 environment, has also produced a website, The Real Democrat Story, that specifically targets 21 freshman democrats across the country. Each freshman gets a page solely dedicated to explaining why s/he is the worst creature ever elected to Congress. Some still have generic templates authored by Ken Spain, who as far as I know is primary manager of the effort. The pages will spin every vote, every statement, and some such as the one addressing our Congresswoman, already have video posted.

Now Spain was formerly Press Secretary to Reps. John Shadegg (R-AZ) and Mike Conaway (R-TX) and became Chief of Staff for Conway. He was Press Secretary for Bush-Cheney 2004 in New Mexico. Early March 2007 he became Press Secretary for the NRCC under Communications Director Jessica Boulanger.

Now, Jessica Boulanger was a former staffer for Tom Delay and under the name Jessica Incitto was Press Secretary for Roy Blunt, and she is the wife of Todd Boulanger, who was a deputy for Jack Abramoff.

Now Spain is no stranger to Web 2.0. Here is a November 2005 interview with him regarding blogging when he was Chief of Staff for Conway.

More recent Spain remarks worth considering are those spoken here about the effort to defeat freshman John Hall in New York’s District 19.

Without question, freshman democrats are going to face a nationwide and coordinated effort to wrestle back their seats into red hands, and the NRCC seems to have chosen someone from a fine cast of characters to manage the effort.

The fundamental question remains, even for 2008. How much do the real people in real neighborhoods pay attention to robo calls and websites? How many people will visit these sites, and of those that do, how many will actually vote differently as a result?


Blogger Liza said...

The chances of an incumbent being re-elected are so good that the numbers alone should tell you that the Republicans will need something like film footage of Ms. Giffords beheading puppies if they want to win in 2008.

Having said that, it has been done and I am reminded of a very popular Texas Governor, Ann Richards, who was defeated by George W. Bush. And, as I recall, some of their methods were very similar to these robo-calls.

What I'm seeing is that they have a very simple anti-Giffords message that capitalizes on all their Pelosi bashing. Compare Giffords to Pelosi, repeat it often, and hope that it becomes a mantra by 2008. The robo-calls target tens of thousands of voters, but all they need is to get a small percentage of those voters to start repeating the message. Once it hits conservative talk radio, and it will if it hasn't already, it will be disseminated to a broad audience that is willing to listen. Another thing to keep in mind is that it's been almost seven months since the election, so more people will listen to robo-calls now than would have last October.

x4mr, it is all too often that "real people in real neighborhoods" make decisions about who to vote for with nothing more than a slogan or a familiar name or an oft repeated phrase as the reason for their decision. They also make decisions about whether or not to support a war of aggression based on a couple of one sentence lies repeated over and over. That is why it has been so easy for the Bush Administration and the complicit corporate media to propagandize Americans and "manufacture consent."

5/27/2007 9:00 PM  
Anonymous the doctor said...


Your post confuses me. You start by saying they will need to find a picture of her beheading puppies, but then you point to the power of a slogan. Are you saying she is vulnerable or not?

I think she is. but I do agree with x4mr and Roger who have said that Democrats have an advantage in 2008 because of this terrible war, and Roger went further about how strong of a candidate Giffords is.

I think CD 8 thinks for itself. The winner is the one who meets and greets and contacts and serves. x4mr said the same thing but with different words.

By the way x4mr and Liza, you both forgot about the gun lobby freaks in your listing of GOP categories.

5/27/2007 9:15 PM  
Blogger Liza said...

What I'm saying is that the probability of ANY incumbent winning re-election is extremely high. Yet, there are times when an incumbent is defeated. In the case of Ms. Giffords, the GOP is trying to make this one of those times.

I think that Giffords is vulnerable only because it's her first term. If she is re-elected in 2008, it really will take a picture of her beheading puppies or french kissing Nancy Pelosi or something equally outrageous to unseat her. The GOP is well aware of this. That is why they are getting an early start on employing some of their Rovian methods that do, in fact, seem to work for them in some populations.

The Republicans have a registered voter advantage over the Democrats in CD8, but there are enough Independents as well as moderate/liberal Republicans who can swing an election either way. I can definitely see where it might be possible to unseat Giffords with the right strategy, lots of money, and a very likeable, moderate Republican candidate, but it is way too early to predict anything.

Keep in mind that x4mr and Roger are the two most adoring Giffords fans of the local blogosphere so they might sometimes see her situation as better than it is. But, it doesn't really matter because just being the incumbent is the single most important factor in an election.

5/27/2007 10:39 PM  
Blogger Sirocco said...

I'm rather with Liza on this one. I think Giffords is probably more vulnerable than most incumbants by dint of the district's Demographics combined with being a freshman, but in general incumbancy is tough to beat.

I don't see the recent robocall campaign or the website really being much use -- the website is going to attract those who agree with it already, while the robocalls will meet with approval from those already members of the choir, and just be irritating to those who aren't already singing the tune.

5/28/2007 7:29 AM  
Blogger x4mr said...

most adoring fans?

Hmmm. Based on what Roger has written, in his case the semantics of "adoration" probably captures it as well as any other word.

My "orientation" towards the woman is given full treatment in Something Else, and it started when she toured SAIAT as a Senator back in April 2004. At present and staying brief, I think the word "intrigued" is a better fit.

The words spoken by Robert Reich, favorable indeed, have a ring consistent with my thoughts, but they are not "adoration."

I think the posts at this thread are in pretty much the same place in terms of the race itself.

5/28/2007 9:02 AM  
Blogger Liza said...

I've mistaken intrigue for adoration? Fine line, x4mr, but I understand your point although I think that Robert Reich is very clearly on the adoration side of it.

5/28/2007 10:19 AM  
Blogger Liza said...

I would guess that the robo-calling is a low cost first step that is part of a larger plan to get a feel for what will work in an anti-Giffords campaign. It makes sense that they would be preaching to their own "choir" at this stage because they provide the message that the "choir" members are supposed to repeat over and over. It doesn't work unless everyone is saying more or less the same thing.

Think about these statements:
Illegal immigrants don't assimilate.
Israel is just defending itself.
Saddam Hussein had links to 9/11.

Tens of millions of people have repeated these statements and many more like them without having ANY context whatsoever. And, people believe them until they are intercepted by some larger reality or larger propaganda.

We're a minority, Sirocco. People like you, me, x4mr, etc...

5/28/2007 10:56 AM  
Blogger roger said...

I'll skip the adoration remarks...

So that I am not mischaracterized on my positions, I think that what Liza says is very important to take seriously. Political science tells us that incumbency power is the number one predictor of election success, that said the things that make an incumbent vulnerable are:

1. A string of votes out of step with the district. The robo-dials could create that impression unless answered with what Ms. Giffords has done. The Pelosi thing only rings true with hardcore conservatives though. Don't over estimate the general public's knowledge of Pelosi and them believing that she is some kind of evil. Remember, most polls say that the public WANTS Pelosi and the Democrats in power.

2. A well financed challenger who can "keep up" (not outraise). The Republicans still have money folks and someone like a Bee, IF HE RUNS, would attract that money. She has to raise funds and continue to do so.

3. The Demographics of the district are favorable here to Republicans. But independents are leaning heavily toward Democrats and are a HUGE portion of voters here. They wont care about the "Pelosi Clone" charges one bit....they will care about Iraq, gas prices, health care, and immigration (not in that order of course).

My "adoration" aside, the calls are to be taken seriously and should be answered with:

a) Great constituent service and being all over the district. She gets an A on that I think.

b) Raising funds. She has raised over $300k in the very first reporting period and at the time farthest from an election.

c) She is a great candidate and is not easily placed in the camp they want to place her. I mean she isn't Raul who is ultra-liberal, but she is moderate-liberal.

So, depending upon who runs against her, she is in great shape, but I would NEVER ignore money directed to soften her support.

5/28/2007 12:12 PM  
Blogger x4mr said...

Very good remarks, Roger, and the adoration thing is in jest. I know you're a happily married guy and don't have a secret room with a Giffords altar.

In fact, I don't even think you have the photo of her in the white T-shirt with the toaster tank on your refrigerator.

5/28/2007 1:09 PM  
Blogger roger said...


Toaster tank?

5/28/2007 1:53 PM  
Blogger x4mr said...


You disappoint!!

Consult the almighty google or Master Jacobson for the knowledge you seek.

5/28/2007 4:44 PM  
Blogger roger said...

Here is why Tim Bee is considering a run...and see Arizona Congress Watch...where there is a story cited to lead us to believe he is.

From a story on the career of Jim Kolbe:

"After the loss in 1982, although Kolbe never said it, Badertscher believes "Jim probably decided within 24 hours that he was going to run again."
In his next bid for office, Kolbe used McNulty's record to frame him as a liberal who was out of touch with the district. Kolbe also tapped into his Santa Cruz County childhood to pull rural, conservative Democrats.
It worked. Kolbe stormed back to beat McNulty in 1984 with 51 percent of the vote."

Sound familiar? But there is a difference. Kolbe faced McNulty in the election where McNulty won the seat. He came back...ran again...and won. A big difference here and the risk Bee takes. If Giffords wins this time, the chances of ever defeating her again are nil. Bee takes this one shot...and he could win, BUT if he loses, he really risks going down in history as one of the many people who faced an incumbent and lost and were never heard from again.

5/28/2007 7:42 PM  
Blogger AZW88 said...

Liza, the history of what is now CD-8 begs to differ with you. When created, the then 5th CD was created to give an edge to the Republican Candidate, one Jim Kolbe. However, a Democrat by the name of McNulty in what was labeled the cleanest congressional election in the country. Behold 2 years later when a disgruntled Kolbe won the seat in a quite dirty campaign. And it wasn't as if McNulty was some boob who stumbled his way around congress. He was labeled the most effective freshman congressman and was very well respected

5/29/2007 1:30 PM  

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