Primary elections are only nine weeks away. Time for state politics to heat up. For political junkies, candidates’ tactics will be all the rage. Yes, “tactics” not “strategies.” You see, there are four foundational strategies to successful politics that candidates follow:
1. Get ‘em to like you.
2. Get ‘em to want you.
3. Get ‘em to not want the other guy.
4. Get ‘em to vote for you.
How you “get ‘em,” the voters, to do these things is what tactics are all about. Do you run positive? Do you hit the other guy? How do you hit? When do you hit?
Money is manna to tactics.
It lets candidates hire the best tacticians and employ the most effective tactics. Well-funded candidates can hire pollsters to find out which voters want to hear what and the best way to communicate it. They can hire media specialists who package carefully crafted messages in slick ads and sound bites. They can afford TV, newspaper, radio, direct mail, web sites, billboards, yard signs, robo calls, push cards, and, now, web casts and social media to get those messages to as many targeted voters as possible.
They can rent airplanes and huge busses to get to events. They can hire campaign managers, fund raisers, opposition researchers, speech writers, spokesmen, field representatives, and staff to get out the vote on election day.
In early May, money differences were notable. In the governor’s races, Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant had $2 million in cash. Republican opponent Dave Dennis had $709,000. Democrat Bill Luckett had $518,000. His primary opponent Mayor Johnny DuPree had $83,000.
In the lieutenant governor’s race, state Treasurer Tate Reeves had $2.1 million. State Senator Billy Hewes had $1.17 million.
While money tells, the best tactics usually bring in the winner.
I’ve seen TV spots for all four of the Republican candidates, but none for the Democrats. The spots show emerging tactics in the race for governor.
Phil Bryant touts his experience and leadership, then jabs at opponent Dave Dennis, saying the governor’s office “is not a place for on-the-job training.”
Dennis touts his successful business background, then, jabs at Bryant, saying that “career politicians want to take us back down.”
Early feedback is that Dennis isn’t making up much ground on the popular Bryant.
Tate Reeves and Billy Hewes avoided jabs in their initial spots, going more for likeability. Both featured their children. Most pundits say Hewes must do something to catch Reeves.
As the floods ease and tornado season ends (we pray), voters will turn more attention to politics. There’s still time for clever tactics, jabs, and body blows to have impact.
Go get ‘em boys. Us junkies will be watching.
Bill Crawford (email@example.com) is a syndicated columnist from Meridian.