“So, who do you think is winning?”
It is the question I am most often asked about the upcoming primary elections in the race to be Maine’s next Governor. The question is a good one, because with seven Republicans in the race and no real “established” heavy hitter in the race that would naturally consolidate a large chunk of voters around them, people have no idea who is going to come out on top. Races like this are very rare, and because they are rare it is hard to know how to analyze who is on top, and who is going to get absolutely destroyed. Believe it or not, the difference between those two outcomes is much smaller than you might think.
Talk to all seven campaigns, and you will get seven different optimistic groups who see the light at the end of the tunnel. Every single one of them – and I mean it, literally every single one of them – think they have their path figured out, and “the voters are really responding”. I haven’t talked to a single one of them who hasn’t made it sound like people are coming out of the cracks cheering them across the finish line.
“I have to tell you Matt, people are really attracted to [candidate]‘s message. I’m really not seeing any enthusiasm for the other candidates, especially [candidate] or [candidate].” I have – literally - heard that from every campaign. I’m not even kidding. Every single one. Everyone thinks that their candidate is catching fire, and the other ones just are not catching on.
This is common among campaigns, but is made worse because of how fractured this race is. The nature of this primary and the fact that there really isn’t a clear front runner has lead everyone to think like this.
It is understandable. When you go out there every day, knock on doors and make phone calls, you encounter a lot of people who are going to vote for you. When they do, they are usually excited about it, which feeds into your already established opinion about your candidate. Encounter hundreds of people like that, and even if 90% of the electorate is undecided or against you, you are left with the impression that you are really striking a cord and people are excited about your candidacy. In the end, though, you might be surprised to find that you got 5% of the vote.
But at the same time these people have to understand what they are really seeing.
Let me put it to you this way – guys, when your girlfriend comes out of the bedroom wearing jeans three sizes too small and asks you, “do I look fat in this?” what do you say? You sure as hell don’t tell her the truth. When a friend of yours who likes to sing tries out for American Idol and looks at you and says, “you think I’m good enough to win, right?” what do you say? You sure as hell don’t tell the truth. Similarly, who you meet and talk to on the campaign trail are forgiving, nice and complimentary – giving you the same impression of the girlfriend who doesn’t think her boyfriend thinks she looks fat, even though she really does.
Strangers that you encounter while campaigning are notorious liars. It is general human nature – we don’t tend to like to insult, berate or talk down to strangers. As a result, when a stranger comes knocking at our door and is campaigning for a candidate, often times they will just politely say they are a supporter just as a way to get rid of you, or in some other way tell you what you want to hear. This gives you an inaccurate impression of what is happening on the ground because people don’t tell you the truth, because you are a partisan source. People don’t tend to start arguments about who they support – so when a campaigner knocks on the door of (or calls) a rabid supporter of somebody else, they tend to have zero interest in expressing how much they love somebody else to you. They don’t want to start an annoying back and forth where the other person tries to talk you into a new candidate, and they don’t particularly feel the need to justify their enthusiasm.
As a result, every single candidate and their campaigns encounter a huge number of enthusiastic yes men, and a very very low number of enthusiastic supporters of other candidates. It is a version of tunnel vision, and is just the way it is – I’ve done enough phone banking and door knocking (including on my own behalf) to have seen that very clearly.
People who are on the inside of campaigns often do not have a very accurate view of the reality of their campaigns. In essence, campaign workers (especially high level staffers and candidates) all suffer from the “blind man touching the elephant” problem – they are all seeing their own small universe and drawing conclusions based on that – but nobody can “see the entire elephant”, so to speak.
Which is just a very long way of saying that I just can’t make any real determinations about this race by listening to campaigns.
So, with due respect to all of you (who I assume will all very soon be irritated with me), please try to understand that I need to use outside barometers outside of your own impressions to evaluate this race, because each and every one of you are telling me the exact same thing, and you can not all be right. And so I have to rely on other sources. More on them later.
So, who is the front runner?
What is our measuring stick for who is leading the race right now?
What will decide this race, and who is going to figure it out.
Why is this article more than 6,000 words? [I am a sick, sick human being who writes too much - that's why]
To answer these questions, I have no choice but to really get in the weeds, so follow me down the rabbit hole, will you?
There seem to be a few solid, borderline consensus viewpoints that I have encountered. These come from observations from not only myself, but from Republican observers “outside the system”, so to speak. I will highlight these points of view, and detail why they were made.
Two-thirds of the electorate hasn’t made up its mind.
I have heard of three separate internal polls conducted by Republican candidates that show that between 70-75% of the Republican electorate is currently in the “undecided” camp. One campaign worker for one of the campaigns told me that he is convinced that the real number is more like 80%, just given the responses he has been getting as he knocks on doors and talks to people on the ground.
This is not shocking, and will continue until very late in this race. It seems that the sheer volume of candidates has convinced most voters that they want to sit back and watch the entire race unfold, and decide who they want to vote for at the end, after they have heard everyone’s arguments.
This is important, because in a race like this, often times you will see a coalescing of voters around a consensus candidate at this point. There can still be a high volume of undecided voters, but you will at least see somebody with 30% of the vote behind them, and maybe 40% undecided that could still change the race.
Not in this primary. Right now, two thirds of people haven’t seen something that has made their decision, and so they are waiting until the end. Voters will be breaking for their candidates in the last week or two of the race, and not before.
This, by the way, is also why no matter what I say below, there is potential for any one of the seven candidates to win this race. I don’t care how underfunded or obscure somebody is, in a fractured field with 70-80% undecided voters this close to an election, anything can happen that could carve out those needed 20,000-30,000 votes.
If the election were held today, Les Otten would win.
Not other gubernatorial candidates, mind you, but other people running for other offices.
I won’t name names because most of them are freaked out by this race and don’t want to appear to lean one way or another and then be left out in the cold after the race is over, but suffice to say that people running important races all across Maine (state House and Senate, as well as other races I won’t mention) are saying that they are hearing from the people they talk to that Otten is their choice – at least at this point in the race.
This is important, because the voter opinion from these sources is untainted by coming from one campaign or another – it is from as non-biased a source as we are going to get. When you don’t have a stake in a candidate, you are automatically more impartial and credible.
This early “lead” (remember the 2/3 undecided) is the result of Otten’s early media war. He was the first on television, and much as I like to make fun of his ads, they certainly did drive home that he wants to create jobs and that he thinks high taxes are bad. Sad as it may be, the simplicity of those points immediately permeated the viewing audience, and as there has been relatively little competition on the air, Otten has reached a large chunk of people with that message, did so early, and (just as I warned the other candidates that he would) defined himself, before anyone else could define him. One candidate told me that all he hears is, “you know, I really like Otten’s message. We really do need jobs, and high taxes are killing the state.”
The other candidates may be selling a similar message, but his massive media buys have reached the non-engaged voter (more on that later) to a huge degree, and captured their attention. It has increased his name ID, and associated a positive, winning message with that name ID.
Even though this strategy is not targeted and reaches a lot of non-likely primary voters, it still built him a narrative quickly with enough people that candidates on the ground think he has captured enough of the voters with his message that he would win if the election were held today.
The election is a three way race between Otten, Steve Abbott and Peter Mills.
The Republican activist community in Maine hates Les Otten. Absolutely hates him. You simply do not talk to anyone in the party infrastructure who either likes him personally, or as a candidate. They almost universally think he would be a general election disaster, and have an “anybody but Otten” mentality about him.
Otten knows this, so he has gone directly over their heads. That is why he is waging a 1.3 million dollar media campaign (probably 2 million by the time the primary is over). His strategy is to pick off the non-engaged voters in the state. He wants to win the votes of the Republicans who do not show up at the caucuses, do not participate with the local committees, and do not engage to much of a degree with the party or the race. He is well aware that most of these people are not likely Republican primary voters, but he believes that there are enough of them out there who will show up on election day to carry him into the general election. He has already spent more than a million of his own dollars to see to that, and won’t likely stop. Plus (and don’t discount it), he certainly has “the look” for this campaign. Don’t laugh, I’ve heard that from dozens of people.
Steve Abbott has lined up the establishment behind him. He raised (but also spent) a huge amount of cash compared to his privately financed rivals, and is making a combination argument that he is the most electable in the general, and is the most in line with voter self-identification. His primary rivals have hit him for carrying a huge staff and spending a lot of money, but make no mistake, he is building a very targeted and sophisticated operation, and doing it with campaign employees rather than outside agencies and consultants, something that his campaign believes is actually making them more efficient and saving them money. He’s also the most experienced candidate in terms of running races state wide (though, admittedly not for himself), and his campaign team is a laundry list of professional politicos who have worked for years on state wide races. In short, they know the game and how to play it.
Peter Mills is the quiet candidate, lurking on the perimeter waiting to strike. He has received his $600,000 and is setting up his campaign apparatus as we speak. He is opening offices across the state, he’s going on the air, and he has by far the most cash on hand right now (roughly $400,000 with Beardsley’s $236,000 being the nearest competitor). He also has high name ID from his previous run for Governor, and a much more savvy operation than most people give him credit for.
Mills is also the candidate that people like, but tend not to tell other people they like. His supporters don’t make much noise – probably because they are sick of being berated by the RINO hunting wing of the party who loathe him – but they are out there, and there are a lot of them. Everyone agrees that he is the smartest guy in the room (something that isn’t always a plus for Mills, believe it or not) and has a compelling case to be made for a third way style candidacy that has general election viability with a decidedly Republican brand.
Oh, and while other candidates have to spent time, money and resources on additional fundraising, Mills doesn’t have to spend another second even bothering with it. 100% of his time from here until election day will be devoted to voter persuasion and turnout.
All three also have major liabilities as well.
Otten doesn’t seem to be focusing on the ground game that will be necessary to translate soft support into hard votes on election day. He has a huge “electability” question due to the whispers and murmurs about his role in the death of American Ski Company and the lack of enthusiasm behind him in Republican circles, which could make many voters afraid to vote for him. And his complete inability to fundraise with the massive resources he has at his disposal also brings up major questions about his campaign organization, viability, and how much authentic support he is receiving from anything resembling the grassroots.
Abbott’s fundraising has been impressive, but his burn rate and cash on hand is doesn’t leave him as strong as he’d probably like to be for the late push. He is also the establishment candidate in an anti-establishment year, and has the Susan Collins question hanging over his head, which is simultaneously a major benefit, and a major noose around his neck. And then there is the, “yeah, but what does he believe in” question that keeps getting thrown his way.
And Mills has actively angered much of the Republican base with a variety of positions and votes. In addition, he has been in Augusta for more than two decades in an environment when “politician” is about as dirty a word as exists in the public lexicon. And of course, he is running his race using taxpayer money – which might not be a liability so much in the general election, but is a major irritant to Republican primary voters who are fed up with what they view as a waste of money.
Which is all to say that if these are your three front runners, it is anyone’s game and will come down to how sophisticated a turnout operation they have. It also means that this top three could easily change at any time and is at best a murky designation.
Bruce Poliquin is either the odd man out, or the biggest wild card in the race.
Out of all the candidates, Poliquin has been spending the most amount of time, money and effort on a ground game. It really isn’t even close. In the short time he has been in the race, Abbott has built up the second strongest operation to be sure, but he hasn’t been doing as much of it, or been doing it as long as Bruce Poliquin has been.
Poliquin’s supporters go to the mat for the guy. There is no doubt about that. They are real people, and they believe in their guy in a big way.
He also has really good people working for him. They are a fairly interesting group of “politically experienced” and “energetic outsiders” with a dash of “hard hitting consultants” for good measure. They aren’t stupid or inexperienced, they know how to run a political race, and they’ve been slowly building a very aggressive and sophisticated campaign infrastructure for more than a year now, fueled by Poliquin’s personal resources.
But, in the end, the most sophisticated, well funded and well constructed ground game is useless by itself.
The best team and the best plan doesn’t account for much if the candidate himself just doesn’t catch on. I’ve used this example to death, but it remains true: Mitt Romney had a world class operation that rivaled George W. Bush’s famously disciplined and sophisticated 2004 re-election campaign, but it all accounted for nothing in the Iowa primary, where he was trounced by Mike Huckabee by ten points.
Bruce’s people are all convinced that their candidate is catching on, and building a wave that will win them the primary.
Everyone I ask outside his campaign, however, is not so sure.
The consensus I get from the off the record conversations I have with the other campaigns (ie the only time they tell you their real opinions), as well as what I hear from the many candidates running local races across the state is that everyone likes Bruce, but that he just isn’t “catching on” as a candidate.
They think he is the “odd man out” – everyone else seems to have a niche that they fill (LePage the tea partiers, Beardsley the social conservatives, Abbott the strategic voters, Mills the moderate/liberals, Otten the out of touch voters responding to media buys, etc), but nobody can really peg Poliquin with that defining quality that would plant a flag in the hill and give people something to rally around.
His big argument is that he is a “business manager”. But that is drowned out by the fact that Otten has somehow built a narrative around being a successful businessman, LePage is a highly visible manager of a quintessential Maine business, and Jacobson has hit the business attraction argument hard via Maine and Company. That demographic of voters is very fractured.
At the same time, nobody (except Poliquin supporters) really honestly knows what businesses Bruce is involved with, nor how he has made them a success. I don’t mean that to suggest there is any kind of downside to how he made his money or what businesses he has managed – I only mean that Poliquin has spent all of his time talking about being a business manager, but has never sold us his own story. As a result, while everyone actually does believe him that he is a successful manager, nobody has that defining story in their heads when they think of him, so the business manager argument seems incomplete.
When LePage claims to be a “business manager”, he talks Marden’s Marden’s Marden’s Marden’s Marden’s Marden’s Marden’s Marden’s. When we think of his business ventures, we think of one of the most successful businesses in the state, and him as the guy behind it all. So for him, that argument hits home. It makes sense. We see the completion of the story that sells the “businessman” narrative, because I have shopped at Marden’s, I can relate to the candidate as responsible for that business, and it feels authentic and “real” to me.
When Les Otten lies about saving Fenway Park, or completely overinflates his role as a minority owner in the Boston Red Sox, we still associate a huge, hundred billion dollar franchise with his name. We know that even though he ran American Ski Company into the ground, that at the very least, he did in fact build it himself from scratch.
We are forced to simply imagine examples of Poliquin’s business acumen, because he never talks about the specifics of his what his businesses are/were, and even when he does, they are very abstract to consider. Real Estate development just doesn’t have the same attention grabbing nature to it as managing a store that everyone in Maine has been to and occasionally shops at.
I have asked literally dozens of Maine Republican primary voters who are not already on board with Poliquin what kind of businesses he has run and how he made his money, and I have never once gotten a correct answer. 95% of them simply say, “I have no idea”.
People just can’t connect his business narrative with an example in their mind, so his argument is only half made to most voters and we simply do not “connect” with what he is saying, because we can’t imagine what he did. It is very difficult to get enthusiastic about “business manager” rhetoric, when it doesn’t have a compelling story to go with it. That isn’t to say there isn’t one, just that I haven’t heard those easy to digest details like I have from the other “business manager” candidates.
Let me put it to you even more simply. If you say “Marden’s” people immediately say, “oh… yeah, I know that place.” – so being responsible for that business means something. It connects the voter to the candidate in a genuine way. Bruce is missing that same connection, because nobody understands his business management history.
Because I CAN associate Red Sox/Skiing with Otten, Mardens with LePage and Maine & Company with Jacobson while not being able to associate what made Bruce a great business manager, it makes his argument melt away compared to the others. That kills the one main argument he is making for his campaign, in a demographic that was already fractured.
And outside that business manager narrative, he is significantly outflanked on virtually every other issue and demographic in the race. The tea partier crowd has embraced LePage – they see him as one of their own. Social conservatives have embraced Beardsley – they see him as one of their own. The outdoorsman crowd, tactical voters and the establishment have embraced Abbott – they see him as one of their own or fulfilling their need. The liberals and moderates have embraced Mills – they see him as one of their own.
I simply can not identify a single issue or group that Poliquin “owns” in one way or another. His case lives or dies with “business management” and “competent, efficient leadership”, and as I just detailed I think that he is not converting that segment of the voting base (which is already fragmented ANYWAY given the number of people making similar cases), because people simply do not know why it is true.
This is why all the observers I am talking to seem to think he is “not catching on”. But, his campaign remains convinced he is because there is so much positivity surrounding him as they stump for him across the state.
It is hard not to believe that when you go door to door and meet happy people who like your guy and describe to you all the reasons they are voting for him. Indeed, I have no doubt that I likely just pissed off an entire segment of people I like and respect a lot by saying all of this, who are saying to themselves, “but we HAVE been giving the detail, and we HAVE been connecting the dots!” The reality, however, is that the inside and outside of campaigns look very different based on which you happen to be sitting in at the time, and as somebody on the outside who’s been watching this race like a hawk and talking to hundreds of people on the ground, I can say with absolute confidence that this is the big missing piece.
Now, all of this has made the “odd man out” argument. What about the “wild card” argument?
Above skepticism aside, Poliquin has a few things going for him.
The candidate has an incredible fire in his belly that I don’t think anyone doubts. I don’t think anyone has been working harder, or longer than him. That kind of enthusiasm, dedication and devotion to a cause or idea is infectious to a lot of people. This is clearly visible in the people who are supporting Bruce – they would seriously crawl over broken glass and rusty knives for the guy. That kind of loyalty is genuine, and a direct result of his commitment to winning his race.
Additionally, even if a candidate isn’t “catching on”, so to speak, campaign infrastructure counts for a lot. They have been making thousands of phone calls to what they have identified as likely Republican primary voters for a very long time now. They are knocking on hundreds of doors. They have an army of volunteers and field staff. There is absolutely no doubt that Poliquin boasts the most resources poured into ground game of any candidate. And of course, lost on my previous Mitt Romney example was the fact that Iowa isn’t exactly the kind of state that typically embraces Romney style candidates, and he managed to capture a quarter of the electorate. This was all the more impressive since nobody really knew who they heck he was at the time, and his votes were almost entirely on the back of his campaign infrastructure, GOTV operation, and media campaign.
This means that Poliquin’s campaign apparatus will deliver thousands of votes for him. No doubt about it. It is a strong operation, and can literally carry him to being competitive all by itself.
He is also a good guy and has bought himself a lot of good will. He is an outsider in an outsider’s year, has strong Maine ties and does make a good case for himself.
He also has the personal fortune that will be necessary to really make a case for himself late. While people like Abbott have low cash on hand numbers and will have to work hard to replenish their coffers for their late blitz, Poliquin has the capability to write himself a check and immediately go up on the air. If they can find a way to address the shortcomings I have talked about above and build a more complete narrative around their candidate, and do so late, that may go a long way toward moving him from “odd man out” into “wild card, legitimate contender for the prize” territory.
Matt Jacobson seems to be everybody’s second choice.
Anyone who has read Team of Rivals knows that being everyone’s second choice isn’t the worst thing in the world to be – it is how Abraham Lincoln got elected President of the United States.
Everyone likes Matt Jacobson. Everyone.
He, uniquely among the other candidates, seems to be well regarded by pretty much all six of his rivals. I spoke yesterday with a high level operative in one of the other campaigns, and he told me that he thinks Jacobson satisfies something that the Maine Republican Party desperately needs – optimism, upbeat attitude and energetic solutions based politics. Plus he’s a really nice guy.
Another operative from a different campaign told me the following after the most recent debate:
I think Matt Jacobson is really at the top of his game. He was the standout candidate last night IMO. I was watching the crowd’s reactions over the course of the night and his message appeared to resonate most positively with the people in the room.
This is something I hear over and over and over again about Jacobson. He is charismatic and really has a way of drawing you in to what he is saying.
There is something else I keep hearing about Jacobson, however.
- “I think he is a little green for me to vote for this year.”
- “I hope he runs again in four or eight years.”
- “I think he would make a phenomenal Commissioner of Economic and Community Development, which he could use as a springboard for another run.”
- “He needs to run against Chellie in 2012. If he didn’t have a fractured field, he could really take her out.”
Almost universally, people tell me that they do really like them, but they are hesitant to actually choose him outright. Instead, he is “easily their second choice”. His campaign seems to have been pegged with this narrative, and it sounds like everyone thinks he would be a great Governor, just in about 4 or 8 years.
This perception can be changed. In fact, being everyone’s second choice who people worry about being “ready” is one of the easiest perceptions to change. It is exactly the problem that then Senator Barack Obama faced in the initial stages of his presidential campaign, prior to Iowa. Everyone – absolutely everyone – said that Obama was too green, that he should come back and run again in four or eight years, and that he was everyone’s second choice. He changed that perception.
The problem for Jacobson is that it will take money to change that opinion (just like it took money for Obama) – and probably quite a bit of it. This could immediately be done with a strong media campaign that made use of his biggest strength (himself), supplemented by a good field operation to back up that campaign. He needs to build a strong narrative around himself that will begin to respond to the current impression that everyone seems to have of him.
Sadly for him, he is facing off with two self funding millionaires, a clean candidate with several hundred thousand dollars at his disposal, an establishment candidate who has raised $300,000 and will probably raise another $150,000 by the primary election, and two movement candidates. In other words, there is a lot of noise to break through, and the people you have to break through have a lot of money to flood the system and drown you out, so that noise is doubly hard to break through.
Jacobson is fond of saying that Presidents Steve Forbes and Ross Perot prove the importance of money in politics, and I am on record as discounting the importance of money in this race as well. I do not think that Otten’s $1.3 million dollars is really all that more effective than the couple hundred thousand that LePage has at his disposal.
That being said, there is a threshold of cash that will be required for him to do what he needs to do. Can he obtain it? How much would he need to break through?
In my previously mentioned Romney/Iowa example, Huckabee was outspent by Romney 20 to 1. So, he won’t need $500,000 more to do it (in theory). What he needs is some kind of “standout moment” – and his opportunities to do that are basically in some kind of creative, refreshing television campaign supplemented by a savvy digital component to help organize and amplify that campaign.
If he can find some way to come up with $100,000-150,000 for the end (he currently has $31,000 on hand), and spends it very smartly on media buys that will differentiate himself from the rest of the crowd in some fashion (it simply can NOT be a “hi, I’m Matt Jacobson and this is who I am” type of message), and does the underlying work to support that particular campaign, he could very well end up shocking a lot of people with his performance. To do this, I am assuming he may have to spend at least a little bit of his own money on this race in the end – but I do not know if he has any interest in doing that.
People have been writing off Jacobson for a while now, but I don’t believe anyone is out of the race at this point, including him. While his path to the nomination is one of the most difficult, I continue to believe that it is also one of the paths that can most quickly be taken advantage of, if done properly.
Paul LePage and Bill Beardsley are killing one another
He also has a lot of really good people who I respect who think he is the “real deal” and a person with a truly remarkable personal story that transcends politics, and that this will help get support for him outside of those particular interest groups.
Transversely, I don’t hear many people taking Beardsley seriously. I haven’t talked to a single person – honestly - who thinks he can or will win.
However, as more time goes by (and he sinks $250,000 of his own money into the race), he is being taken much more seriously. Beardsley is viewed as an authentic social conservative. The “values voters” – particularly the religious conservatives – love Beardsley and view him as one of their own.
The problem is, Beardsley and LePage are currently splitting a segment of the Republican vote that would need to be unified for one of them to actually win. By most estimates, the ideologically “right wing” part of the Republican Party (who votes on that basis), which would include all of the Tea Party, Libertarian and social conservative communities in the GOP, do not make up nearly as much as most people think they do. I would estimate that segment of voters to be somewhere between 20-35% of primary voters. That means that splitting those voters would result in something like 10-17% of the vote each, and lets not pretend that at least some of these voters will be spread around to Poliquin (who has reached out to Libertarians), Jacobson (who has made appeals on the 10th Amendment and other “tea party” issues), Mills (who has a number of libertarian staffers and supporters) and others.
To me, this means that these two will both be starting off with more like a 6-10% level of support, and will need to convert a very large segment of voters to their cause to win. However, the problem with appealing for the hard core activists and noise makers in the party is that it largely isolates you from the other voting blocks (tactical voters who vote based on electability chief among them). For all the unique and positive things that would allow these two candidates to sell themselves (LePage’s very compelling life story, for example), there are equally off-putting things that turn off just as many people (going on pirate radio stations and talking with 9/11 truthers and whacko conspiracy theorists).
Most of the voters that these two candidates are fighting over are in the second district, which has much less population density than the first district. That coupled with the fact that people like Abbott are making a big push in that area as well with sportsmen and moderate suburbanites, and you can see them both being marginalized very easily.
If LePage was in the race by himself, and there was no Beardsley, I think LePage would have a legitimate shot at the nomination. With both of them in the race siphoning off votes from each other in the right wing of the party while minimizing their own broad appeal, I don’t think that either one of them has a legitimate path any longer.
There still remains the possibility that a consensus candidate will emerge and we will see somebody capture 40% of the vote. Count me skeptical, but it could happen.
Right now, each candidate will focus on what they feel is their best strategy – Otten will continue his media onslaught and Abbott will work primarily on the trench warfare aspect of campaigning – and try to “break out of the pack”.
There are legitimate paths to victory for each and every candidate, but some are easier than others.
If I were to assign probabilities of victory, it would go a little something like this:
- Les Otten – 24%
- Steve Abbott – 20 %
- Peter Mills – 18%
- Bruce Poliquin – 15%
- Paul LePage – 10%
- Matt Jacobson – 10%
- Bill Beardsley – 3%
These probabilities could change, but right now that is how I see everything shaking out. This race isn’t about money, but money has defined it. It isn’t about ideology, but ideology has dominated much of the race. It isn’t about clever media, but in the end creative media in the right place by the right people may decide this election.
In the end, though, this is only one person’s opinion and I could be very off base. I think my analysis is right, and I have been saving this article for a couple months now, collecting opinions from as many people from as many different places as I could as a way to formulate an accurate picture of the race, but who knows. If you think I am off base, I invite you to write a guest article telling me why I’m an idiot.
For now, I hope this can at least be a starting point, and something around which more discussion and analysis can be done.
So concludes the longest article ever written by human hands. Let the hate mail begin.