KETV has a story about some post-election analysis being done via the UNO Communications Dept. Now we’ll assume that much more was discussed, but Channel 7’s headline (on their website) is “Panel Says Negative Ads May Have Cost Ricketts Election“.
Let’s get a few things out of the way:
The turkey ad did NOT turn the election for Ben Nelson.
(Though ask 10 people to name a “negative” ad from this election and all 10 will name that one.)
The fact that the turkey ad and any number of others ran non-stop did NOT turn the election for Ben Nelson either. Heck, Nelson spent $7.5 million himself. Ya think that was all for stickers and yard-signs? Nellie had a raft of negatives ads over the airwaves as well.
And it’s not that Ricketts didn’t have a strong enough resume either. You can certainly argue that he didn’t, but candidates with much much less than Pete Ricketts have succeeded.
Here was the problem with the Ricketts’ strategy, in a nutshell:
What was the Ricketts campaign theme?
Ok, what, in a sentence, was the reason Ricketts gave for not-re-electing Ben Nelson?
(Beyond “Ben is a Democrat, I’m not.”)
What was the Ricketts message for sending Pete to DC?
(And don’t give me the “Nebraska values” thing either.)
We’re hearing crickets.
That’s because there WAS NO THEME to the Ricketts campaign.
You wanna know Nelson’s? That’s easy. He said it the DAY AFTER the primary:
Wall Street Pete.
Totally moronic. Insipid. Sophomoric. False.
But catchy? Yup.
And even more than that, Nelson POUNDED Ricketts with it. So that even if you didn’t believe it, you at least knew what Nelson’s message was. And you repeat it enough times, people will begin to believe it.
So there were a million (or was it twenty million?) other reasons why Nelson won / Ricketts lost. But the biggest problem for the Ricketts campaign was that they never established a theme/message for why-elect-Pete, why-fire-Nelson.
One good point that was finally reiterated by the McCook Daily Gazette, was that the negative ads didn’t work, because Ricketts didn’t have the credentials enough to attack someone who already had a strong standing in the state. And while true, this only addresses the negative aspects of the campaign. The problem was there never was a message that defined Ricketts’ campaign.
Of course there were lots of other problems as well that we won’t get into now (maybe later). And we’re sure the Dems are giddy about this even being discussed (though a look at the NDP message board the day after the election showed that they are as happy and united as a Pelosi-Hoyer-Murtha car-pool).
And we’re not even saying that had Ricketts had a message, he would have won. But we are saying that without that message, pushed by the Hagel-Linehan-Doug McAuliffe Team, Ricketts never even got out of the gate.
(Oh, and Nancy Hultquist, people stopped asking “Where’s the Beef?” in the 80’s…)