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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Internal Inslee Memo Shows Democrats Beat Their Own Expectations

Posted by on Wed, Aug 8, 2012 at 5:22 AM

With the statewide Republicans at the top of the primary ticket losing (Rob McKenna) and losing big (Reagan Dunn) despite an older, more conservative electorate widely presumed to lean more Republican than that which will vote in November, Democrats profoundly beat expectations. Their own expectations.

Recently I got my hands on the Inslee campaign's July 1 internal primary memo, explaining what they were expecting in yesterday's election and how they intended to spend resources. There's a lot of data and strategy stuff, and it was passed on in confidence, so I don't want to burn any bridges by posting the memo in its entirety, but needless to say Inslee's people fully expected McKenna to win the primary:

The bottom line is that while November elections make Washington a blue state, August looks more like a Republican primary. The best conceivable GOTV effort simply won’t increase turnout enough to put Jay in first place in the primary, but the race for governor today is between Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna, and on August 8th it will still be a race between Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna.

... History tells us the primary is an extremely steep hill and doesn’t determine the ultimate winner. We should stay focused on the fall, using the primary period to make an early investment in general election voters and score valuable first impressions with a meaningful paid media effort.

All campaigns play the expectations game, attempting to lower expectations ahead of primaries in an effort to make their win look bigger or their loss less ominous. But what is clear from this memo—essentially an internal justification for how they intended to spend their money—is that the Inslee campaign spent relatively big in advance of the primary, not because they expected to win it, but because they were focused on November: "Our general election plan includes early voter outreach, and the most effective time to start that outreach will likely be the weeks leading up to the primary."

It's a mistake to read too much into primaries as the primary electorate is often vastly different than the general electorate, and a lot can change between August and November. But across the board last night, Democrats beat their own expectations in statewide and legislative races, and that left a lot of Democratic insiders feeling good about their prospects for November.


Comments (7) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
It was a bad night for Kirby Wilbur and the Seattle Times. They got slapped across the skull with a 2x4. Especially the Times...the levies passed, Hobbs ran 5th. WA doesn't want another shitty lawyer as AG, even one named Reagan.
Posted by ratcityreprobate on August 8, 2012 at 7:12 AM · Report this
Daddy Love 2
Also, winning a statewide race makes Inslee look like a winner and McKenna looks lke a loser. I predicted when Inslee was a couple of polling points behind that he'd pass McKenna and never look back. I don't see how Rob McKenna thinks he can improve his position much in the next few months. But expect them to go negative.
Posted by Daddy Love on August 8, 2012 at 7:31 AM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 3
Let's not get cocky. There's a big fight ahead with the general election just getting started. And please, people, give money. I know it hurts but it will hurt more if we allow Republicans to destroy our healthcare and education. And make no mistake. That's what they'll do.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on August 8, 2012 at 7:35 AM · Report this
Keister Button 4
The Attorney General primary election surpassed the Democratic Party's expectations as well: who knew so many Washington primary voters cared about the attendance and commitment levels of a candidate? I wonder if the Seattle Times is revisiting its past editorials ("how is it we failed to convince the new or uncommitted voters out there that Republican Party is the best thing for Washington's 99%?").
Posted by Keister Button on August 8, 2012 at 8:59 AM · Report this
Like Dom's analysis, yours is off the mark as well, thinking that Dems wouldn't dominate in the primary; that "older/conservative" primary notion went out the window with mail balloting.
Posted by menace2society on August 8, 2012 at 10:35 AM · Report this
Big Sven 6
@5: 2010 was a mail in year, and primary voters were about 2% more Republican than they were in the general election. Inslee has a very, very good chance of being our next Governor.

But McKenna will heavily outspend Inslee, and it will work with some people. I gave Inslee money yesterday, and I'll give money in September, and in October.
Posted by Big Sven on August 8, 2012 at 1:17 PM · Report this
Re "older" voters, that's an outdated notion. I don't know any people my age who are doddering troglodytes. It's the TV-watching people in their 40s that are the problem.
Posted by sarah70 on August 8, 2012 at 1:23 PM · Report this

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