Underestimating Mary Burke: A Fatal Error

Opening Remarks

But as Governor Scott Walker daydreams about new drapes in the Oval Office, Democrats have suddenly gotten serious about unseating him from his day job, from the one that’s in Wisconsin.

One Democratic contender for governor in Wisconsin just upped the ante significantly by signing up a bunch of A-list Democratic campaign staffers, including two key members of President Obama’s campaigns for president.

Rachel Maddow

A stunningly incompetent and embarrassing spokesman, a bench thinner than Don Rickles’ hairline, and a seething mass of meatheads and idiots in the state legislature make it easy to underestimate Democrats in Wisconsin.

Too easy. But it’s not the Democrats in Wisconsin that Governor Scott Walker’s re-election campaign should worry about, it’s the crack Democratic team that put President Obama back into office, staved off Republican gains in the 2012 elections, led a corrupt and beholden Terry McAuliffe to victory in swing state Virginia, and who now is looking for apartments in Madison.

To clarify and sharpen our commentary from yesterday, recent events should have the Walker team sweating just a little, maybe even putting down their cigars and scotch. As Walker starts setting the stage for a possible presidential run in 2016, he may be making a fatal mistake that could cost him everything: taking 2014 for granted.

To start, let’s examine Obama’s 2012 strategy. By staging a horse and pony show that came to be dubbed the “war on women” – seems we can’t go one decade without a war in this country – Democrats very cunningly micro-target certain groups, particularly single women, and try to create the widest margin possible.

Democrat Terry McAuliffe trounced Republican Ken Cuccinelli by an astonishing margin among single women, which was the race.
Democrat Terry McAuliffe trounced Republican Ken Cuccinelli by an astonishing margin among single women, which was the race.

The corrupted and beholden Mr. McAuliffe, who won, hit Mr. Cuccinelli hard on issues that appeal to single women, and very effectively targeted that demographic with the heat of a thousand suns. While the corrupted and beholden Mr. McAuliffe, who won, lost married women by 9 points, he won single women among whom pro-abortion, pro-birth control messages resonate, by an astonishing 42 point margin.

Take a second to understand that figure – Cuccinelli lost single women in a face-melting blowout. In a two point race, that was the election in a classic swing state.

All the while, the RNCC and national Republican groups effectively abandoned Mr. Cuccinelli five weeks before the election, despite the fact that he eventually lost by only two points. The RNCC miscalculated – biffed it – bigtime. Their decision to pull support probably cost Cuccinelli the election; it was a breathtakingly enormous mistake.

Where Democrat cunning meets Republican incompetence, as it did in Virginia, Democrat cunning will win almost every time. Now Team Cunning is coming to Wisconsin. The JS reports:

  • Jim Margolis, who handled advertising for President Barack Obama’s two national campaigns, has signed on as Burke’s media strategist.
  • Diane Feldman, who polled for Tammy Baldwin’s successful U.S. Senate campaign in 2012 and Gwen Moore’s 2004 race for Congress, will be Burke’s pollster.
  • Pete Giangreco, who was the lead of direct mail for Obama’s first Democratic presidential primary campaign as well as Baldwin’s 2012 campaign, will run Burke’s direct mail operation.

The three horsemen of Democratic cunning bring with them much more than the specter of relentless demographic based messaging or the intelligence of some very capable professional politicos, they bring the strategy of today’s most successful and beautifully simple left-wing campaigns and rolodexes full of the phone numbers of some of the most impressive heavy hitters in the country. These people are not to be underestimated.

Mr. Walker has a solid message of conservative reforms that have put the state back on solid fiscal footing and lowered taxes for many Wisconsinites, though a $13 property tax cut rings hollow with many, anecdotally at least. He’s genuinely concerned with running a responsive government that pinches pennies and does what’s best for the taxpayers. His message mixes that with a possible presidential message targeting the mess in Washington.

The Democrats will hit him for falling short of his 250,000 job pledge, for gallivanting around the country to hobnob at soirees, for losing focus on the job of governing Wisconsin, and maybe even for not having a college degree and therefore hating education (his first-in-a-decade increase to the UW System notwithstanding…facts are never withstanding for the left).

That’s all amateur ball in today’s game of demographic-driven politics, and so is the kind of traditional messaging Mr. Walker’s team is running. You know, honest stuff like balancing budgets and fighting for responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars. The three horsemen of Democrat cunning will have a core mission of microtargeting and exploding the margin in certain demographics, particularly doing so among single women, which looks to be the new Obama-era Democrat stratagem. They target, lie, divide, and too often conquer.

They’ll hit Mr. Walker on defunding Planned Parenthood in Wisconsin, shuttering abortion clinics, forcing women to have ultrasounds before ending a baby, repealing bonanzas for lawyers who get rich by suing employers (the left calls it rolling back equal pay laws), and other pablum peddled by the left. They’ll text, email, and phone those messages to their targeted demographics. That’ll drive outrage and it’ll drive turnout at the polls next Nov. 5th.

It’s a load of left-wing pablum indeed, but unfortunately that pablum works. In the era of Obama, lying, exaggerating, and deepening the political divide is what wins elections. Mr. Walker needs to sideline his presidential ambitions and prepare for the firestorm for which the left has been preparing since 2011.

Quote of the Day

“I believe very strongly that women should have the freedom to make their own healthcare decisions. What the governor has done is roll back  Wisconsin many, many years.”

-Mary Burke in the Maddow interview, presaging the tone and tenor of next year’s guv campaign.

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All hail King George

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This isn’t a link, it’s simply my commentary that today’s country has too much rock and too few steel guitars. I miss the old days…15 years ago.

About the writer: Chris Rochester has worked in communications and finance for a state Senate and congressional campaign, consulted on numerous Assembly and local races, and has held leadership roles in his local Republican Party. He's communications director for the MacIver Institute. Commentary here is strictly his own.