Why Did Teachout Lose? Musing on the Realities of Politics and Elections

Let me ask a question: how many readers who were vigorous supporters of Zephyr Teachout donated to her campaign or volunteered a few days to work in her campaign?

You win campaigns with Money (intelligently spent) and Get Out the Vote (GOTV).

Bloomberg in 2009 outspent Bill Thompson many times over and Bill de Blasio in 2013 spent his dollars wisely.

If every teacher who voted for Teachout contributed $100 and three days of volunteer work the election results may have been different.

Who are the electorate in a Democratic primary election? The electorate is prime and super prime voters and issue-oriented voters. Read a superb primer on elections: http://gograssroots.org/files/analyzevoters.pdf

On September 3rd I was at a major event – Farina, Mulgrew, Tisch, King and a few others were on a panel – hundreds in the audience. At the reception I was introduced to a State Senatorial candidate, an education advocate, passionate about school issues, endorsed by a range of important names – I thought, “What is he doing at an education panel in Manhattan – why wasn’t he at a bus stop in his district handing at buttons and ‘meeting and greeting’ voters in his district?.” BTW, he lost.

Two long time incumbents under indictment were running for re-election. In Queens Leroy Comrie – a term limited City Councilman defeated the incumbent – Malcolm Smith – who is awaiting trial. Across the border in Brooklyn Del Smitherman, endorsed by Cuomo, de Blasio and the two biggest unions (1199 and 32BJ) lost to the incumbent – John Sampson. In fact, the union endorsed did not do well in the hotly contested elections.

High profile endorsements as well as endorsements by unions help, but by no means guarantees an election.

You win elections because:

• name recognition – you spend your time attending community meetings, civic and block associations, planning boards, senior citizens centers, religious organizations, ethnic or home country organizations, chatting, answering a few questions …

A candidate popular with the “progressives,” the Working Families Party lost, the supporters whined, “the machine” beat us…

Actually the folks who know how to win elections beat the guys and gals weren’t willing to do the grunt work – licking envelopes and knocking on doors.

• The power of local politics – endorsements closest to home: letters from a block association endorsing your candidacy because you got a stop light on the corner of the school block, from the cricket team to members thanking you for getting the parks department to establish a cricket field, offering free flu shots in your office, a legal services clinic for immigrants, a Medicare informational meeting, etc. “All politics is local.”

• Building consensus one voter at a time and the pulse of the electorate – what are the local interests? Supporting the Dream Act, limiting “stop and frisk,” supporting Israel, supporting medical marijuana, choosing to support policy issues that reflect the electorate in your district.

If the 35% of primary voters who bubbled in Teachout on the ballot also supported with their pocketbooks and time we may have seen the politicl upset of the young century.

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2 responses to “Why Did Teachout Lose? Musing on the Realities of Politics and Elections

  1. Here’s one who did! We also need to support the initiatives to change the constitution to limit the influx of über wealthy money which has made politicians line up to secure the resources to run a successful campaign.

    Bloomberg, spending $110/vote in the first election, and more each cycle, was the modern political ‘canary in the coal mine’, and we should have all heeded that.

    Like

  2. Carole Silverstein

    David and Peter were right on the money.

    Like

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