Posts Tagged ‘Candidates’

It’s Called Market Research

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

Having been the owner of a marketing and communications firm, and for a brief stint having dabbled in political consulting, I find the “push-poll controversy” going on at Joe Monahan’s blog somewhat amusing.  More specifically this statement:

We also had some email questioning whether this was a “push poll” as we called it–one designed to move voters off of Martinez and over to Weh–or a poll to test negative messages against Martinez for use in future advertising. To us, it’s pretty much a distinction without a difference.

Joe’s been around politics for a long time.  He should know there’s a big difference. Political consulting is just another type of marketing consulting.  Anyone who pays attention to what goes on in the marketing world knows that if the budget exists brand messages are tested with the targeted demographic group. It’s just good business.  In fact, it is such a commonly accepted practices, that they even have commercials depicting focus groups evaluating product messages.

Politics is no different, and I’m really kind of shocked that Joe is pretending not to know that.  In fact, in politics the stakes are a lot higher.  You spend a whole lot of limited funds in a very small period of time to “make the sale.”  You’ve got 30 to 60 second soundbites to tell your story, or that of your opponent. Most people are more complicated than a 60 second soundbite, so it’s critical that the folks creating the message know what’s most important to the voters and allow the candidates to address those issues.

The only way you can do that is by asking (polling) a representative sample of voters what’s important  before you put the significant investment in production and media purchase. Now, the candidates that decide their policy based on what the voters want to hear are flawed at best. But, those that prioritize their message based on what’s important to the voters are just being smart.

One final obvious problem with this make-believe “push poll” conflict trying to be created.  Is that if you were actually going to do a push poll, you would do it immediately prior to a vote, not a couple of weeks ahead of voting.

Just my two cents.

Anti-Incumbent Sentiment Confirmed

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

When considering the polling prior to the outcome of the recent Albuquerque mayoral election, I noted that a strong anti-incumbent sentiment was in play:

In 2008, incumbents were swept out of office. Sure, it was a huge Democratic sweep. But, it was just as much an anti-incumbent sweep. People wanted new blood. They voted for “change.”

The Obama administration and the Democrats now in control of the Congress misunderstood this vote for change to mean the country was endorsing a shift to the left and bigger government programs. This wasn’t and isn’t the case at all. The vast majority of Americans are not extremist – neither right nor left. Instead, they are firmly planted in the center.

So, the change they were voting for was against the incumbents, and the direction in which they were taking our country, which ironically enough was towards bigger government programs. Now, it seems to me that the anti-incumbent sentiment has not subsided. It is still alive and well.

My observation regarding the anti-incumbent sentiment seems to be confirmed by a recent Pew Research Group study:

According to the Pew Research Group, the number of people who would like to see their own U.S Representative re-elected has reached a low point — the same type of low point seen in the 1994 and 2006 midterms when the parties in power suffered large losses.

“About half (52 percent) of registered voters would like to see their own representative re-elected next year, while 34 percent say that most members of Congress should be re-elected,” according to Pew. “Both measures are among the most negative in two decades of Pew Research surveys.”

And, in more bad news for Democrats, Republicans are currently much more enthusiastic about voting in 2010.

I’d argue that these results also apply to the Governor’s office and any swing legislative districts in 2010. Spend time talking to people about politics, and you’ll see its true. Its probably the reason behind State Senator Eichenberg’s recent candid observation:

He wrote that Eichenberg told the crowd at the Southwest Learning Center in Albuquerque that due to Denish’s “complacency or complicity” with the ‘pay-to-play’ atmosphere surrounding the administration of Governor Bill Richardson, and standing quietly behind him,” that he was unwilling to invest a half million dollars in a losing campaign.’

Bralley writes Eichenberg said, “I looked her square in the eye when I said that. I told her I didn’t think she was going to win.”

I’d say the numbers support his assertion.

Congratulations Albuquerque You Made a Good Choice!

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

RJ Berry’s election win last night is a win for Albuquerque and New Mexico. Mayor-elect Berry is exactly the type of new leader we need in New Mexico. He is a 3H guy – honest, humble, hard-working – who take his responsibilities very seriously. Congratulations to RJ and his family!

I think the GOP needs to be careful about misinterpreting this win as a vindication. As the Democrats are quick to point out, the majority of votes went to the Democratic candidates, not the Republican candidate. However, more important is this fact noted by Eye on Albuquerque:

But what’s also clear is that a solid 65% of voters wanted someone other than Martin Chavez to be mayor.

There is no mistaking it. There is a strong anti-incumbent sentiment out there among the voters. As Don Harris’ City Council race demonstrated, that doesn’t mean that anyone can win a seat, but it does mean that voters will choose a truly qualified leader over the entrenched incumbent. We saw it last night in the mayoral race, and we also saw it in Dan Lewis’ win over Michael Cadigan. Dan was another 3H type of candidate.

So, where does that leave us. Well, Lt. Governor Diane Denish needs to take notice. Try as she may, its a little too late to disengage herself from the scandal fraught Richardson administration. As the economy crisis continues to worsen, people will rightfully be blaming the incumbents and those who enabled them, and looking for viable alternatives.

Not Enough Screaming Insults

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

Must have been an unbelievably slow news day. The front page of today’s online Albuquerque Journal has an “article” which is basically a free ad for Lt. Governor Diane Denish’s request for contributions:

Lt. Gov. Diane Denish is asking New Mexicans to restore civility to state politics — by contributing money to her gubernatorial campaign.

In an e-mail sent out to supporters Wednesday, Denish, the sole Democrat to enter the 2010 race thus far, said many New Mexicans have told her they’re tired of the name-calling and negativity of current politics.

“Stand with me against the screaming and the insults,” said Denish, who added that a contribution of $25, $50 or $100 would help her “put her foot down and say ‘enough is enough!'”

Sorry folks this isn’t news. There are lots of candidates out there asking for money, and unless the Journal plans on giving each and every one of them equal time, I think they ought to revisit their editorial policy.

As to the content of the Journal’s in-kind contribution to Lt. Governor Diane Denish’s campaign efforts, I can’t help but wonder what exactly the Lt. Governor wants everyone to stop screaming about? Does she want New Mexicans to stop screaming about the fact that this administration’s tenure has been marked by more criminal indictments and pay to play scandals than any other administration in recent history? Maybe she wants New Mexicans to stop screaming about a public education system that is failing more and more children every year?

As a former Chairman of the Democratic Party, does the Lt Governor find it insulting that a member of her own party would point out that OVER A BILLION DOLLARS is spent without required audits. Or, could it be that Lt. Governor Denish finds it insulting that she is being held accountable for failing to blow the whistle as tens of millions of dollars in taxpayers funds disappeared because of highly questionable investment practices.

Sorry, but if you ask me, there’s not near enough screaming going on in the Land of Enchantment. In fact, I hope the “screaming” grows louder, and I’m really not going to lose any sleep if the crooks, or their enablers, are insulted.

Anti-Incumbent Sentiment Still Strong

Monday, September 28th, 2009

I’m man enough to admit that I’m shocked by the polling numbers released from the mayoral race this weekend in the Albuquerque Journal:

It’s a tight race for mayor of Albuquerque, but Richard Berry appeared to have a slight edge over three-term incumbent Martin Chávez 12 days before the Oct. 6 election, a Journal Poll found.

Richard Romero was a close third in the poll, just two percentage points behind Chávez.

Thirty-one percent of the registered, likely voters polled last week supported Berry, 26 percent chose Chávez and 24 percent sided with Romero. Nineteen percent were undecided.

The race clearly isn’t over yet, said Brian Sanderoff, president of Research & Polling Inc., which conducted the poll.

Now, my surprise does not come as a result that more voters think RJ Berry would make a better mayor than politics as usual Mayor Marty Chavez. I’ve always been a fan of RJ Berry’s [disclosure: contributed to RJ Berry campaign in the past]. But, I was convinced that the limits imposed on the campaign as a result of public financing would provide a benefit for the incumbent that would be insurmountable.

This still may be the case. However, I do think there is something else going on here. A lot has already be written about the way that the two Democratic candidates in the race are splitting the vote and that the politics as usual incumbent is bleeding conservative votes to… well, to the more conservative candidate. But, I think there is something more going on here.

In 2008, incumbents were swept out of office. Sure, it was a huge Democratic sweep. But, it was just as much an anti-incumbent sweep. People wanted new blood. They voted for “change.”

The Obama administration and the Democrats now in control of the Congress misunderstood this vote for change to mean the country was endorsing a shift to the left and bigger government programs. This wasn’t and isn’t the case at all. The vast majority of Americans are not extremist – neither right nor left. Instead, they are firmly planted in the center.

So, the change they were voting for was against the incumbents, and the direction in which they were taking our country, which ironically enough was towards bigger government programs. Now, it seems to me that the anti-incumbent sentiment has not subsided. It is still alive and well.

If the 12-year mayor rightly gets voted out of office, it should serve as a warning to the other incumbents running for office in 2010. Our budgets are in the red. Our school systems are failing. Everyday more of our family, friends and neighbors are losing their jobs and their homes while big government rewards big business with taxpayers funds.

It’s going to be harder and harder for the incumbents to convince folks they’re part of the solution when the the truth is that they created the problem.

Pretty Much Says it All

Monday, September 21st, 2009

A recent Albuquerque Journal article looks at the campaign claims of the three candidates running for mayor. What’s most striking are the failures of incumbent Mayor Marty Chavez and the weak attempts at spinning his actual track record.

Mayor Chavez has increased spending at a budget busting rate during his tenure in office. An indisputable fact, that has been well documented over the years and is made equally clear in the Journal article:

Albuquerque’s general-fund spending stood at roughly $325 million in the 2002 fiscal year, when Chávez returned to office. (He has won mayoral elections in 1993, 2001 and 2005.)

This year’s general-fund budget totals about $475 million. That’s a 46 percent increase from 2002.

Well, clear to anyone other than Mayor Chavez:

“Fiscally, I’ve been very conservative,” the mayor said

Let’s be real here. Mayor Chavez may be fiscally creative, but fiscally conservative he is not:

A sizeable chunk of Albuquerque’s property-taxing authority has been switched from the capital program to the general-fund budget since 2003. The change provides about $48 million in annual revenue now, around 10 percent of the operating budget.

The result of this creativity?

The report, issued earlier this year by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation officials, said 36 percent of the Albuquerque area’s roads are in poor condition, 18th worst among urban areas with a population exceeding 500,000. The analysis looked at cities and their surrounding suburbs, based on 2007 data.

Just another reason to say, “Enough already with politics as usual.”

Election Cycle 2010 is in Full Swing

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

When it comes to political campaigning, it is often said that no one is really paying attention until after Labor Day. Of course, what they are talking about is the Labor Day preceding that year’s November election (i.e. Labor Day 2009 and Election Day 2009).

However, we now have undeniable evidence that our election cycles have been greatly expanded. This year’s election day marked the official start not of Election Cycle 2009, but of Election Cycle 2010. Last night was the first debate of the Democratic Lt. Governor candidates of 2010. I know I keep repeating the year, but I just can’t get over it. Seriously, it’s not like these folks are running for President of the United States. They’re running for a position that really doesn’t do much other than collect a salary and break the occasional tie vote:

This money fits in well with the theme in a cable television ad from the state GOP last week lambasting [Lt. Governor Diane] Denish for casting tie-breaking votes on a bill to expand the hours of operations for nontribal casinos in the state while taking tens of thousands of dollars from gambling interests. The ads refer to statements Denish made prior to being elected that gambling was bad for the economy. The ad calls Denish’s votes “a pay-to-play jackpot.”

What’s even more bizarre than a Lt. Governor race getting media attention fourteen months before the election? The fact that the six candidates think that campaigning for raising taxes in tough economic times is a solid campaign strategy:

Several Democratic candidates for lieutenant governor who attended a forum Wednesday at the NEA building on Botulph Road said they’d like to repeal state personal income tax cuts for upper-income bracket taxpayers — a plan pushed at the outset of Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson’s administration.

That’s right, the state has gone an unrivaled spending spree over the last seven years, and rather than cut waste, these folks want to take more out of our pockets. Of course, some of the folks running for the relatively high-paying low stress job, are the same legislators that approved these massive budget-breaking spending sprees, so I guess its CYA time.

Now, in case you’re thinking this expanded election season is limited to the Lt. Governor race, think again. It looks like the Secretary of State office is also kicking it into gear for Election Cycle 2010:

Attention candidates and potential candidates of any party: The Secretary of State’s Office is hosting “candidacy seminars” at the Roundhouse next week in an effort to teach budding politicians the basics of filing for public office and convey some general understanding of election laws and regulations.

The free three-hour workshops — scheduled for 9 a.m. or 1:30 p.m. Wednesday — will cover such topics as opening a campaign account, campaign finance reporting laws, withdrawal dates, hardship exceptions for online reporting, financial disclosure requirements, in-kind contributions, etc.

Wow, I wonder just how many people are going to show up for this? Now, don’t get me wrong, people running for state offices have always started toying with the idea this early. It’s not uncommon for them to put out feelers to check for support levels. But, this is way beyond that. This is full official campaign mode at a very early time. I guess on the upside if the Secretary of State asks budding candidates to sign in, a simple records requests will make it clear, which seats are in play for 2010.

Mayor Chavez is Right… Enough with Politics as Usual

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

With only a few weeks left until the Albuquerque City elections, the mayoral debates are coming with increasing speed. There looks to be an interesting mayoral debate coming up on Wednesday, September 16. Here is the info I received:

The Alibi is joining forces with KNME-5, the New Mexico Independent and KUNM 89.9 FM to bring you a free—totally free—mayoral debate on Wednesday, Sept. 16 (details below).

“The Line” host Gene Grant, KUNM’s News Director Jim Williams, New Mexico Independent Editor Gwyneth Doland and I will moderate. We’ll pose your burning questions about your city to the candidates.

Audience members will be given notecards and can submit their queries at the start of the throwdown. Or, film a question, upload it to YouTube and send the link to (Extra points if your backdrop relates to the subject of your question.)

R.J. Berry, Martin Chavez, Richard Romero
Submit video questions for candidates to
See what people are already asking at
Wednesday, Sept. 16
National Hispanic Cultural Center
1710 Fourth Street NW
Doors open at 6 p.m., debate at 7 p.m.
Seating is first-come, first-served. About 300 available.
Hear it live on KUNM 89.9 FM
Watch it and live-blog it at and
See it Friday, Sept. 18, on KNME-5

After the mayoral debate, join Alibi and local politicos for discourse, libations and complimentary canapés. Municipal DJs play eclectic Americana and rare groove as citizens of Albuquerque snack and mingle.

Downtown at Blackbird Buvette (509 Central), Wednesday, Sept. 16, from 8:30 p.m. 21+

Now, it’s not often that an after debate party complete with libations and complimentary canapés is advertised to draw in a crowd, but believe it or not, that’s not what I think makes it potentially interesting. What makes it a potentially interesting debate is the timing.

The mayoral election is just now starting to get some attention. This is one of the effects of a taxpayer funded mayoral campaign. None of the candidates have really had the cash necessary to pound home the issues, or each other’s shortcomings.

A lot of people might think that’s a good thing, but the truth of the matter is, intended or not, this has worked to the advantage of the incumbent, Mayor Marty Chavez. If you’re a fan of Mayor Marty, then it’s great. If not, well, not so great.

Mayoral candidate and State Representative RJ Berry is starting to make some noise about the Mayor’s “real record of accomplishment.” Unfortunately, I’m not convinced the taxpayer funded campaign is going to provide enough resources for the message to get the penetration that is needed to be effective.

On the upside, the Mayor is spending his equally limited funds playing defense, which in a campaign is never a good thing. You can listen to the radio ad here [hat tip: New Mexico Independent]. In the ad, the Mayor denies ever turning Albuquerque into a Sanctuary City or pushing a trolley for Central, and implies that anyone who says otherwise is guilty of politics as usual.

Ok, first let me address the obvious. If anyone is to be equated with “politics as usual”, it would have to be the Mayor who fought a legal battle to overturn term limits, so he could continue… Yup, “politics as usual.” Geez, talk about opening mouth and inserting foot. Mayor Martin is practically the poster child for politics as usual.

Enough of that. Let’s get to the meat of the matter. If there is one thing I hate, it is politicians who attempt to rewrite the history they helped create. Of course, I’m not the only one who has that pet peeve. I think you ought to take a listen to this segment from the Jim Villanucci show circa 2007 [hat tip: Eye on Albuquerque]

It’s kind of hard to deny the facts two years later, when anyone can go back and find the truth.

Effective immediately, Albuquerque police officers who find illegal immigrants will no longer contact either federal immigration agents or the border patrol.

Sorry Mayor Chavez, that politics as usual tactic of denying your record just doesn’t work in the modern age. [side rant: This originally came from a KOB-TV news story, which is no longer available. Is it really too much to ask for MSM news outlets to keep their articles up in perpetuity?]

Now what’s even funnier than Mayor Marty Chavez denying in his campaign ad that he is being maligned on his record of turning Albuquerque into a sanctuary city? It would be the Mayor pretending he doesn’t want to build a trolley on Central. First, in order for us to all be on the same page, let’s look at the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of a trolley:

  • Main Entry: 1trol·ley
  • Variant(s): also trol·ly \ˈträ-lē\
  • Function: noun
  • Inflected Form(s): plural trolleys also trollies
  • Etymology: probably from 1troll
  • Date: 1823

1 dialect English : a cart of any of various kinds
2 a : a device that carries electric current from an overhead wire to an electrically driven vehicle b : a streetcar powered electrically through a trolley —called also trolley car
3 : a wheeled carriage running on an overhead rail or track
4 chiefly British : a cart or wheeled stand used for conveying something (as food or books)

I hope you noted the use of the word streetcar to define the word trolley. Also, pay special attention to definition 2a and compare it to this definition of a “modern streetcar” found on the City of Albuquerque website:

Streetcars feature a pole that touches an overhead wire, called catenary. Once the power reaches the streetcar through the trolley pole, it is fed to motors, which are called traction motors that are located on each wheelset.

Pretty dang close, wouldn’t you say? Yet, the Mayor wants us to believe he doesn’t want to reach into our pockets and pull out additional tax money to build a trolley. He can call it a modern streetcar. He can call it a light rail system. But, it doesn’t change the fact that he’s itching to build a trolley. Just another fine example of politics as usual.

What’s that you say? You are still not convinced tha
t Mayor Marty is a politics and usual kind of politician. Well, let’s look at the other half of his claim. He only supports building a trolley system “if passed by the voters.” REALLY?

Time for another trip down memory lane. Let’s go back to November 3, 2006 to see what Mayor Chavez tried to do when he thought no one was looking:

[The transportation] tax was originally sold to the taxpayers as a means of modernizing the transit system and fixing streets, and it has done that. The tax has also “ballooned in dollars received.” In other words, it brought in a lot more than expected. Yet, rather than let the temporary tax sunset, the Mayor and City Council want to make it a permanent tax while no one is looking.

It’s the old bait and switch, and it is blatantly UNETHICAL.

So, the truth is that Mayor Marty only supported seeking taxpayer approval once he got caught with his fingers in the taxpayers’ back pocket. C’mon everybody. It’s time for the chorus… Just another fine example of politics as usual.

So, how about we close with the closing thought from Mayor Chavez’s radio ad?

You mean a candidate would intentionally distort the truth just to get elected? Unfortunately true.

Haven’t we all had enough of politics as usual?

Leadership. Vision. Results.

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Our friends over at the Errors of Enchantment blog have picture perfectly captured the summation of Mayor Martin Chavez’s leadership:

The signs which tout the Mayor’s “Leadership, Vision, and Results” are mostly located in open fields and other “public property” locations. But, as I was driving downtown the other day I noticed a sign in a rather unusual place, especially for an incumbent Mayor. I saw a sign in front of a boarded up hotel, the “Silver Moon Lodge” which is just west of downtown on Central.

Now, you have to appreciate the irony of Mayor Marty’s campaign sign in front of a boarded up business in light of this claim from his campaign website:

While we’re all aware of the nation-wide economic hardships so many people are facing, Albuquerque has been able to fair better than most urban area in the country.

But wait, it gets better. Mayor Marty actually has down as his number one claim to fame in his list of accomplishments: Public Safety. He even spells out how he has improved public safety.

Albuquerque is virtually graffiti and litter free due to Mayor Chavez’ strict zero tolerance policies.

Wondering what zero tolerance for graffiti looks like with Mayor Martin Chavez leading the city?

Kinda brings the Mayor’s other claims of accomplishment into question doesn’t it?

State Representative and mayoral candidate Richard Berry has some additional observations, photos and videos on the success (or more appropriately lack thereof) of Mayor Chavez when it comes to public safety.

An Observation About the Changing Paradigm

Friday, August 14th, 2009

For many people, Republican policy has always been seen aligned with business, and Democratic policy has been equated to big government. Now, with the Republicans out of power and the Democrats firmly in control, it has been interesting to observe the shift that is occurring.

President Obama and the vast majority of congressional Democrats are proposing big government solutions to every problem from the economy to healthcare and everything in between. Of course, that’s exactly what was expected. What wasn’t expected, at least not by me, is that the these same Democrats are not only out there promoting big government solutions, but the big government solutions have all been crafted in a way to put the interests of big business first.

Consider the bailouts, they have all gone to the biggest of the big businesses. The biggest banks, the biggest insurers, the biggest automobile manufacturers are the beneficiaries while the small businesses that drive our economy are left to languish with programs that are nothing but smoke and mirrors. Now, I’ve never thought of big businesses as evil empires. After all, as a small business owner, my goal is to one day become a big business. But, I’ve always been against legislation that specifically benefits one industry over another, or puts a competitor at a disadvantage.

Yet, this is precisely what is occurring on the federal level. A recent Business Week Behind This Week’s Cover Story podcast examines the ways that UnitedHealth has been a key player in crafting the healthcare legislation, and how at the end of the day, it is the giants of the healthcare insurance industry that are going to be the big winners:

As the health reform fight shifts this month from a vacationing Washington to congressional districts and local airwaves around the country, much more of the battle than most people realize is already over. The likely victors are insurance giants such as UnitedHealth Group (UNH), Aetna (AET), and WellPoint (WLP). The carriers have succeeded in redefining the terms of the reform debate to such a degree that no matter what specifics emerge in the voluminous bill Congress may send to President Obama this fall, the insurance industry will emerge more profitable. Health reform could come with a $1 trillion price tag over the next decade, and it may complicate matters for some large employers. But insurance CEOs ought to be smiling.

This is a theme that is being repeated over and over since the Democrats have taken full control. However, as a result of continued economic pressures, more and more people are finding themselves being laid off from large companies. More and more people are struggling to ensure their families have the basics. The Democrats in control may talk on the stump about being the advocates for hard-working Americans, but their actions speak louder than their words:

Missing from Washington’s health-reform discussion is a simple change that would make insurance more affordable for millions of the nation’s smallest business owners by letting them fully deduct the cost of their health insurance premiums.

By a quirk in the tax code, self-employed workers who buy their own health insurance essentially pay an extra tax on their premiums. They’re the only taxpayers in the system who pay taxes on premiums, which count as a business expense for corporations and pretax income for employees. Because self-employed workers have no corporate employers to match their payroll tax contributions to Social Security and Medicare, they pay double the rate of wage and salary workers in a levy known as the self-employment tax equal to 15.3% of their net earnings. That’s on top of regular state and federal income taxes, and the income they spend on health premiums is not exempt.

The nation’s 9 million self-employed—sole proprietors with few or no employees, contract workers, and freelancers—constitute about 8% of the total U.S. labor force, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (The Census Bureau counts 22 million sole-proprietors, but it’s not clear how many of those may be payroll workers as well.)

Healthcare is just one example where inequities like these exist. Right now, there is a large section of the population that is not being represented by our elected officials. There is an opportunity for leaders to emerge that represent our interests. Those leaders will find their support crosses party lines. Their supporters won’t be made up of the radical fringes of the left or the right. Their supporters will not look for big government solutions to their problems or to further their pet causes, anymore than they want big business to solve their problems. It’s time for these leaders to step forward.