by Ed Berry
In the polls, you are running behind your Democratic State Auditor competitor. The mid-October poll had you at 37% and your competitor 44% and 19% undecided. You can still win but you need to know the reasons you are behind.
Tim Fox is doing very well because he had statewide name recognition going into the race. You do not have such name recognition and you can’t do much about it now.
Sandy Welch had no better state-wide name recognition than you at the beginning of the race but she is doing very well. One reason is Sandy has conducted an excellent campaign. I receive her email newsletter every week. She has made presentations all over Montana. And she makes an excellent and convincing presentation about education in Montana and how she will improve it. She is inspiring.
By contrast, your campaign has been lacking. No newsletters. No speeches. At least that I know of. Voters know little about you, the office you are running for, and why you are better than your competition.
Also, you made a tactical mistake in your fund raising in the primary race. You pitched Ken Miller almost more than yourself. This aligned you well with the small number of tea party voters but not with the mainstream Republican voters. In fact, you may have turned off some mainstream Republican voters by your close association with the tea parties.
Mark French released his voting preferences that show he will vote for you but not for Hill, Rehberg, or even Sandy Welch. Mark thereby did your campaign more damage than good. His recommendations imply that you agree with him, which is a disaster for your campaign.
You need the mainstream Republican voters to win your race.
What can you do in the last two weeks to win your race?
First, strongly align yourself with mainstream Republicans. Do news releases, speeches and letters saying you strongly support all the Republican candidates.
If you show your support for Romney, Hill, Rehberg, Daines, and all other state-wide Republican candidates, and openly challenge all third-party voters, you will better ride the Republican bandwagon to victory. But if you support Dan Cox, you will suffer the same fate as Dan Cox. If you say nothing, many voters will conclude you support the Libertarian vote. Frankly, I don’t even know where you stand on the third-party issue. You have been too silent.
Romney is going to win by a landslide and he will have strong coattails for all Republicans who are openly on his side. Hill and Rehberg will win in close races because the undecided voters will follow the party line and because Ron Paul intercepted a lot of potential third-party votes with his endorsement of Denny Rehberg.
The average undecided voter knows nothing about you or any candidates except for watching the presidential debates, maybe a governor debate, and watching TV ads. Therefore, he will go into the polls and vote for his pick for president and governor. If his choice is Republican, he will check Republican boxes all the way down his ballot. This is not how the average independent tea party voter thinks but it is the way the average voter thinks.
In other words, to win, you must ride the Republican coattails and convince the mainstream you are part of their team.
Second, make a simple, convincing case about how we need Republicans to control the Land Board.
There is no time to educate the average undecided voter about the office of State Auditor you are running for. Therefore, you must focus on the only significant, easily understood, influence of the position you are seeking: the Land Board.