Tuesday, October 7, 2008

"Always Run Scared" - Why Governor Daniels' Reaction to Close Polls is Puzzling Strategy

Today Jim Shella, political reporter for WISH-TV reported on his station's new poll which showed Governor Mitch Daniels only with a 4 point lead over his Democrat opponent, Jill Long Thompson, 49-45. Libertarian Andy Horning checks in with 3%. I think Shella and his Indiana Week in Review gang all (with the obvious exception of the Democrat representative) have been pretty negative of Jill Long Thompson's chances of winning so it will be interested to hear the discussion on Friday's show. I just want to go on record as having said for well more than a month, that JLT has a chance to win in what I expect to be a big year for the Democrats.

See Blog Postings:

A One Point Lead? Indiana's Race for Governor (10/2/08)
Governor Jill Long Thompson? (9/19/2008)
Republicans Need to Heed Rokita's Warning: Indiana's Coming New Voter Surge (9/18/2008)
Does a Rising Tide Raise Jill Long-Thompson's Ship (9/6/2008)

What I found most interesting though is Governor Daniels' response to the poll as reported by Shella. He was dismissive of it pointing to other polls, including internal polls showing him with a much larger lead. This though is the third poll showing his lead four points or less.

But it is not just Governor Daniels' reaction. Interviews with his political staffers indicated they too were dismissive of the close media polls. They question the methodology, suggested biases and pointed to other polls showing their boss with a larger lead.

I don't get it. When I was trained in politics, I was taught that you are to run scared, work for every last vote never letting up. Overconfidence, I was told, is the worst enemy of a politician. As Election Day approached, our township chairman and elected officials would always come to political meetings warning Republican workers how the Democrats had closed the gap in our internal polls and they were within striking distance. I knew they were often lying, but the reason they were trying to persuade us the races were close was to motivate party workers to get out the vote.

These close polls are the perfect opportunity for the Daniels' people to motivate the troops and to encourage a strong get out the vote effort from state Republicans. Instead it is as if Governor Daniels, seeing that he had a large lead going into the second half, decided merely to take a knee for three downs followed by a punt every time his team gets possession of the ball. Well, the clock on the election is running out, but the score is getting tantalizingly close.

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