"[We] used to get upset when we'd see something in The Stranger that was highly critical," a campaign staffer said to an anonymous third party. (The staffer's comments were forwarded to us.) "Then we found out that less than 10 percent of Stranger readers are even registered to vote. If even half of those guys voted, what're we talking? Negligible! That's when we learned to just ignore The Stranger."
There are two reasons why this particular campaign staffer, who worked for one of Seattle's mayoral candidates, is an idiot.
First, he's wrong about Stranger readers. According to Media Audit (the independent national media auditing service), people who read The Stranger are more likely to vote than people who don't read The Stranger. A whopping 75 percent of Stranger readers voted in the last national election, and people who read The Stranger vote at a higher rate than people who read Seattle's daily papers. Stranger readers are younger than the readers of daily papers, which means that Stranger readers are not only voting now, but will continue to vote for decades to come. Any politician who hopes to make a career in Seattle politics would be foolish to ignore The Stranger--and any campaign staffer who advises a candidate to do so should be fired.
Setting the Media Audit's numbers aside, there's ample evidence that The Stranger--and Stranger readers--are having an impact on Seattle elections: The Stranger offered early and dogged support to city council members Judy Nicastro and Nick Licata; we backed the second monorail campaign; and we endorsed Tom Carr, the former monorail head and incoming city attorney. And while both The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer endorsed Mark Sidran, The Stranger and the Seattle Weekly endorsed Greg Nickels. (Guess who won?)
Not everyone we support wins, of course. We pulled out the stops for city council candidate (and occasional Stranger contributor) Grant Cogswell in the last election. But while Cogswell didn't win, he came closer to ousting an incumbent city council member (Sound Transit lackey Richard McIver) than any challenger in recent memory.
Secondly, even if this particular campaign staffer was right--even if only five percent of Stranger readers went to the polls--we're talking about 15,100 voters. Greg Nickels won the mayor's office with slightly more than 2,000 votes. Judy Nicastro won with 1,551 votes. In a statewide election, Maria Cantwell beat Slade Gorton by 2,229 votes. Around here people tend to win and lose elections by slim margins. Only a fucking moron would call 15,000 votes "negligible."
Finally, the idiot staffer who advised his candidate to ignore The Stranger (and by extension our readers) worked for Paul Schell, Seattle's former mayor.
Josh Feit is on vacation.