Unusual Patterns in Primary

Larry Price
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Wednesday - October 20, 2010
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It’s amazing how much money is being spent on running for public office. That should make it exciting, but it doesn’t, for at least a couple of reasons.

First, the negative advertising employed by most candidates in “tight races” taints the political industry and casts a shadow on the process. In the past, when one candidate outspent his opponent, he or she won the election. Electability was directly related to the ability to raise money.

Secondly, when the Super Senator, Medal of Honor winner and chairman of the all powerful House Appropriations Committee (Dan Inouye) endorsed a candidate, that candidate could rest pretty sure they would get elected, no matter what. That didn’t happen this time.

Directly related to electability was union endorsements. In the past, receiving the endorsement from several powerful public and private unions meant clear sailing into office. Most candidates could take a vacation and let the other wannabe candidates fight it out for position on busy street corners. It was like watching a ritual dance with a highly predictable ending.

Something happened along the way. Candidates who out-spent their opponents lost. More shocking, candidates who had virtually early endorsements from every influential public and private union were defeated. What’s going on?

It’s easy to see where the negative political attacks are coming from. It’s the old focus group tactic used by advertising agencies for years. An ad agency can get a focus group together and in a couple of hours can figure out which ad, angle or attack will produce the most desired result: Buy, sell or change your vote. Is it possible times are changing?

The polling/focus group advocates insist negative ads actually change voters’ minds. Maybe they should try to discover how many negative ads a potential voter can read, hear or view before they decide their reason to vote, because no matter who gets in office, the negative message will continue. If negative advertising does anything, it heightens the victim’s competitive juices and promotes hatred, grudges and a strong desire for vengeance.

I think some of the negative ads are so silly they are entertaining. It will truly be interesting to see if the voter turnout will once again show that most voters are not taking orders from the old guard and voting with their instincts.

Will the UHPA come out strongly for former faculty member Neil Abercrombie? Will Saint Louis and its legions rally to the defense of Duke Aiona? Is it possible for a candidate with the backing of U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye and powerful union leaders to lose out to a candidate with a strange last name and no union support?

Only time will tell, but everyone’s expertise seems to be leaning on the “margin of error,” to make it sound like they know what’s going on as every race goes down to the wire.

Because of the margin of error, many races are being characterized as “dead even.” These are the same people who predicted that the primary gubernatorial race was dead even. “Dead even” obviously means don’t know.

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