Tick Tock: The Race for Mayor in New York City Enters the Final Stretch, May the Best (or the Best Organized) Wo(man) Win.

Tick Tock …

Twenty days to the September 10th primary day and the citywide offices all have competitive races.

de Blasio, Thompson and Quinn lead the mayoral field with Weiner and Liu struggling and Albanese and Salgado along for the ride. Stringer and Spitzer spar over the Comptroller slot, a host of challengers vie for Public Advocate and if you live in Manhattan or Queens the Boro President races are torrid.

My mailbox is filling up every day with mailings from multiple candidates and the tv screen is beginning to burst with glitzy advertisements.

In the new world of social media and data collecting the science of running a campaign is both complex and sophisticated.

The “rules” for winning a campaign at straightforward:

* identify the pool of voters
* identify your voters
* get them to the polls

Candidates seek out of a number of companies who provide a wealth of data in order to target voters, for example, PrimeNY will provide.

Contributors to religious causes (over 200,000 New York State voters)
• Political contributors (over 500,000)
• Contributors to environmental groups (over 450,000)
• Home includes a child (over 1 million voters)
• Book buyers (over 1 million)
• Gardeners (over 300,000)
• Investors (over 500,000)
• Gun owners (over 200,000)
Plus income, education & housing information

Every time you use your credit card for a purchase, log on to a website, sign an online petition, your data is aggregated and becomes part of the big database in the sky.

Who are the voters?

Prime voters, the most sought after voters, are voters who have voted in three of the last four primary elections. They are older, over sixty, many are or were union members, and if retired active in a host of organizations, Michael Mulgrew, the UFT president calls retired teachers his “day time army.”

In New York State only voters registered in a party can vote in a party primary, and, you can only change party registration status a year earlier. Although 2008 and 2012 were record years at the polls – the Obama surge – the “off year” turnouts are significantly lower. The new and younger voters in 2008 and 2012 either failed to register in a party (“I’m an independent”) or lost interest in the interim years. The election seers expect a 600-700,000 turnout in the mayoral primary – in a city of eight million plus!

Who are my voters?

Can candidates identify their potential voters – perhaps Quinn singles out gay voters or Thompson Afro-American voters or de Blasio more liberal voters. Campaigns craft their message to appeal to their voters.

Either a tv commercial, a mailing, a phone campaign, candidates target voters they have identified as potentially their voters. And, you’re relentless, you may ask “how many times do I contact voters who have already committed to us – the answer: as often as possible.”

How do I get my voters to the polls?

By any and all means possible …

The most effective method of motivating “our guys” is face-to-face, that tried and true door to door canvassing. “Thanks for your support, we really need you, we know you can join us to man the phones, to spend a few hours knocking on doors, …” It’s called building a movement.

Why does the polling bounce around so much?

It is extremely complex and expensive to conduct polling with low margins of error. The telephone polls might only call land line users. not cell phone-only users, did the pollsters select a “stratified, random sample” or the best available subjects?

Harry Smoler was on the Board of his coop out in Sheepshead Bay – everyone knew Harry. At the urging of his wife, a school secretary – he ran for the local school board. His coop voted heavily for their neighbor and Harry was elected to the school board. Every two years he also ran for the Assembly, never coming close.

After many attempts one election cycle lo and behold Harry was elected. One of the sages quipped, “He had run so many times people thought he was the incumbent.”

The vast majority of voters select their candidate based on very narrow criteria. In Harry’s case they imply knew his name and liked him, there were no policy considerations, in fact, they thought he was running for re-election for an office he never had held.

Quinn was the prime architect of the plan to allow Bloomberg, and the city council, to run for a third term, a single issue that for many voters permanently tarnished her reputation.

Thompson, in a city with many minority voters, is the only person of color (de Blasio, in an attempt to counter has a tv ad featuring his bi-racial son) emphasizes his experience, president of the NYC Board of Education and eight years as the City Comptroller, and, de Blasio, has staked out the left, attacks on the wealthy, tax the rich to benefit poorer New Yorkers.

Can I actually find out the education policies of the candidates?

Yes, Gotham Schools maintains a data base here.

Every minute of every day from now to the 9 PM closing of the polls on September 10th is filled in on the candidate calendars, the dates for the mailers are set, the tv time is purchased, the army of canvassers and phone bankers is building, may the best man (or woman) win, or, the best organized?

To be continued: The runoff among the top two candidates on October 1 and the democrat versus the republican on November 5th, and, BTW, will Mike Bloomberg toss in last minute millions to support the republican? Isn’t politics wonderful?

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