09 May, 2011

Natalie Tennant Squanders A Chance To Actually Have A Message On The Hoppy Kercheval Show

On this morning's radio show, Hoppy Kercheval gave Natalie Tennant an opportunity to make some news and say something that will get people talking about her campaign. She squandered it. Kercheval asked her an abortion-related question and instead of taking the opportunity to say the one thing she can say that no other candidate can say - that she is the only pro-choice liberal in the race - Tennant stuck with the message that isn't working and talked about Luntz-tested words like "accountability" and "transparency". She's at 17% in the polls and claims to "feel good" abut her campaign and insists that her "message" of accountability and transparency is "resonating" with voters.

I understand that elected officials like Tennant are surrounded by supporters and sycophants who won't tell her that her "message" isn't a message and that if she doesn't start saying something different she's going to keep getting the results she's getting but I don't understand how a women with a masters degree  can't understand the polls. Tennant probably took no fewer than 3 or 4 statistics classes in college so she understands how polls work and she has to know that if her so-called "message" is resonating with voters she'd be polling higher than 17%.

I also understand that when all your friends are in politics it's easy to have the misconception that all voters are engaged and aware of what you stand for. They're not. Just yesterday I saw an email from a Ph. D. who was still deciding between Tennant and Thompson - two candidates who are about as dissimilar as two candidates can be.

Natalie Tennant is running a lousy campaign. She's lucky Emily's List doesn't ask for their money back.

Is there nobody in Tennant's inner circle who will tell her the truth that her so-called message isn't a message and that it's not "resonating"?

08 May, 2011

Squandering The Emily's List Endorsement: If Tennant Loses It Will Be Because She Didn't Make The Right Enemies

Candidates win races the same way organizations raise money: by attracting the right enemies. if Natalie Tennant loses in a primary race where she is the only pro-choice liberal in a 5-way race against 4 DINO men, it will because because she failed to get attacked by her opponents and anti-choice activists. It will be because she squandered the Emily's List endorsement.

A HuntingtonNewsNet editorial said Natalie Tennant "sold her political career for a very cheap price" when she received funding and an endorsement from Emily's List. The editorial was wrong. Tennant may very well lose this special election primary and she may very well have squandered the best chance she'll ever have to get the democratic nomination for governor but not because she was endorsed by Emily's List. No, if Natalie Tennant loses it will be because she failed to make the right enemies and because she failed to get those enemies attacking  her loudly enough to arouse her natural constituencies, women and liberals.

As I've said in previous posts, if a pro-choice female Democrat can't win the democratic nomination this year against a field of 4 Republican-lite men, then she can't win at all. Never again will the primary math favor her the way it does this year. Never again will Tennant be lucky enough to have 4 men fighting over all the conservative votes and leaving the non-conservative vote to her.

But this favorable, split-vote primary math advantage only works if Tennant can get people talking about her as the only liberal in the race. Nothing says "liberal" like being the only pro-choice candidate in the race, the only Emily's List endorsed candidate in the race.

Instead of trying to receive the endorsement under the radar, Tennant should have made that endorsement the cornerstone of her campaign.  All the candidates claim to be for more jobs, more accountable government and lower taxes. The Tennant campaign can't excite and mobilize her natural constituencies - women and liberals - by sounding like one of the DINO boys.

But in a primary election where she's the only pro-choice candidate, Tennant can differentiate herself from her Republican lite opponents if she makes choice the cornerstone of her campaign and gets the boys to attack her for it.

And she's running out of time. I hope that even as I write this post Tennant is taping a new TV ad in which she trades the tomboy outfit for a business suit and replaces the DINO boy script for a clear declaration that she is the only liberal, pro-choice candidate in this race.

With any luck, one of the anti-choice DINO boys will take the bait and try to strengthen his conservative bona fides by attacking her as "too liberal for West Virginia" or failure to reflect West Virginia's values. The more Tennant can get her male opponents attacking her for her views on abortion, the better chance she has of taking advantage of this year's unusual split-field primary math.

As long as Tennant allows this race to be about Luntz-tested words like accountability, she can't  take advantage of the most favorable, split vote primary election math she'll ever see.

And while it would be great if one of the DINO boy candidates would attack Tennant on abortion, the next best thing would be if some fire-breathing anti-abortion organization like The Family Foundation or The Heritage Foundation would use Tennant's position on abortion to raise funds. The point is, if Tennant loses a 5-way race in which the other 4 candidates are splitting the conservaive vote 4 ways, it won't be because she got the Emily's List endorsement, it will be because she didn't get her enemies to attack her for it. What Tennant needs is the right enemy. A loud enemy. An enemy who will make the point she has failed to make: that she is the only liberal, pro-choice candidate in this race.

THIS JUST IN: Rick Thompson, who has been running a cynical, dog whistle campaign for the evangelical vote all along, is now running a TV ad aimed at people who "carry a Bible to church on Sunday". If Tenant could just get the hymn-singing Thompson to attack her it would help her more than it would help Thompson. Yes, Thompson may very well take a few evangelical votes from frontrunner, Tomblin, but more importantly an attack on Tennant's position on abortion helps differentiate Tennant as the only pro-choice liberal in the race.
Send comments, questions and hate mail to JosephHigginbotham@gmail.com.

06 May, 2011

Bray Cary Is Right About Why Natalie Tennant's Campaign Isn't Getting Traction

Bray Cary of West Virginia Media is right: Natalie Tennant's campaign isn't getting "traction" because she's not giving people a reason to vote for her except that she's a nice lady. He made this observation on Hoppy Kercheval's radio show this morning. I'm sure some of you heard it.

That's why people are talking about Perdue, Thompson and Tomblin but not Tennant.

Is there not somebody in the Tennant campaign who can take her aside and tell her that if she can't win in a race where the conservative DINO vote is split 4 ways, she can't win? Is there nobody?

The primary math will never be more favorable to a Tennant win than it is right now. The question is, when will Tennant adjust her campaign strategy to exploit the favorable math?

Secretary Tennant, pull the tomboy TV ads and replace them with an ad in which you tell your natural constituencies - women and liberals - that you are the only pro-choice candidate in the governor's race.

That'll get people talking about your campaign and, more importantly, it'll give approximately half the women voters and all the liberal voters a reason to come out and vote for you.

05 May, 2011

Why Tennant Needs To Pull Her Current Tomboy Ads and Replace Them With Ads Aimed At Her Natural Constituencies

Here's the bad news for Natalie Tennant: Natalie Tennant won't get any conservative votes. Tomblin, Perdue, Thompson and Kessler will get all the conservative votes. No matter how much Tennant's TV ads try to make her look like a tomboy, conservatives and the West Virginia Democratic Party establishment will vote for the boys.

Here's the good news for Natalie Tennant: Tennant can win without one conservative vote. All she has to do is win her two natural constituencies, women and liberals.

So the question is, why is Natalie Tennant's campaign wasting scarce TV money on ads that make her look like just another conservative? It simply doesn't make any sense.

I think Tennant has been hoping that her female and liberal base will do what she's failing to do, that is, reach out to her natural constituencies.

I think she's assuming that enough people know she's the only pro-choice candidate in the race that we will put her over the top with a word-of-mouth campaign.

She's wrong. Oh, we're trying. We're out here Facebooking and blogging and using Linkedin and Twitter but there simply aren't enough liberal elites in the East End of Charleston with connections to the women and liberals in the far flung counties who will only know Tennant from her TV ads that don't say how she's different from the boys.

The boys, by the way, are helping her. The frontrunner, Earl Ray Tomblin, is starting to get some grief for the corporate welfare he receives from the Greyhound breeding industry so I look for the conservatives - Tomblin, Thompson, Perdue and Kessler - to get negative and tighten the race. I think Tomblin's 30+ poll numbers will drop into the high 20s as voters start to learn who he is and Tennant can win with only about 30%.

I think she can get to 40 but not with her current campaign strategy. I think if it were generally known that Tennant is the only pro-choice candidate in the race women who go to conservative churches and sleep with conservative men will go to the polls and vote for Natalie Tennant. They'll lie about it, of course. They'll tell their pastors and their husbands they voted for Thompson or one of the other DINOs.

And I think that women who don't tell their pastor or their husband or their boyfriend the truth about how they feel about reproductive choice would go out to the polls and vote overwhelmingly for Tennant if she just tells them she's the only pro-choice candidate in the race.

And I know the liberals will. Trouble is, Secretary Tennant can't count on the progressive enclave on the East End to get the word out to the rest of the state. There's a myth that all West Virginians are only separated from each other by one or two degrees. That's false.

Tennant needs to pull her tomboy ads and go on TV dressed like the professional woman she is and tell the liberals and women of this state that she is the only pro-choice candidate in the race. If she does that, women all over the state of West Virginia will tell their husbands and their pastors they're voting for one of the boys but they'll vote overwhelmingly for Tennant. And liberals who don't know anybody on the East End and live in places where they can't identify themselves as liberals will come out in droves to vote for the only progressive in the race.

04 May, 2011

Why This Year's Math Favors Tennant But Her Strategy Doesn't

"Much of what political consultants do amounts to exploiting the mathematical quirks of the plurality vote." - William Poundstone, Gaming The Vote: Why Elections Aren't Fair


Yesterday I wrote that in a year when all her opponents are male and running like Republicans, Natalie Tennant's clearest path to the Democratic gubernatorial nomination is to run like a girl. The anti-choice boys are splitting the male, conservative vote 4 ways which means that if Tennant can motivate women and liberals to come out and vote, Tennant wins. So why is she running like one of the conservative boys?

My friends and I have been swapping theories about why Tennant is running such a bad campaign. Several people have cited her inability to raise money. Others have speculated that this special election run is just a dress rehearsal for the real race a year later. Some have even suggested that she doesn't really want to be governor.

It's also just possible that Tennant thinks she doesn't have to compete for the female vote and doesn't have to play the I'm -the-only-pro-choice-candidate-in-the=race card because her women friends will get that message out leaving her free to run like one of the boys.

If that's what she thinks, she's wrong and she's getting bad advice. 

West Virginia women don't like the TV ads the boys are airing. They make fun of them. Perdue has some kind of creepy obsession with telling us how "big" he is. Thompson thinks all he has to do is play gospel music and tell us about his sad childhood and we'll forget that he's otherwise indistinguishable from any Republican. 

Tomblin tried to deprive us of the opportunity to vote at all. 

West Virginia women want an excuse to vote for Tennant but she's not giving them one. Her phone bank scripts look as if they were lifted from the Tomblin campaign and in her TV ads she is dressed like one of the boys and she doesn't say the one thing that would mobilize the female vote against the boys: that she's the only pro-choice candidate in the race.

If Tennant were in a 2-way or 3-way race for the Democratic nomination I might understand her reluctance to bring up the controversial subject of abortion, but this year's Democratic contest has rules that favor a pro-choice woman. 

Secretary Tennant, the kind of voters who would vote for anti-choice conservatives like Tomblin, Thompson, Perdue and Kessler will never vote for you so stop trying to get a slice of that demographic.  Give your natural constituencies - women and liberals - an excuse to come out and vote for the only pro-choice candidate in the race. 

Today's governors become tomorrow's US Senators and Presidents. Women know this and that's why Natalie Tennant can own the female vote if she just lets West Virginia women know that she's the only pro-choice candidate in the race. If Tennant brings out the female vote and the boys split the male vote, Tennant wins. If the boys split the conservative vote and Tennant brings out the liberal vote, Tennant wins.

Run like a girl, Secretary Tennant, run like a girl.  Never again will the math actually favor the pro-choice woman so this could be Tennant's year to beat the boys if she'll just run like a girl.

03 May, 2011

There's Still Time For Natalie Tennant To Beat The Boys If She'll Just Run Like A Girl

West Virginia Secretary of State, Natalie Tennant, is the only pro-choice candidate in the West Virginia governor race so why is she running like she's just another Republican Lite Democrat-In-Name-Only?

Why doesn't Tennant just let Kessler, Thompson, Perdue and Tomblin split the conservative, DINO vote 4 ways and aggressively brand herself as the only liberal in the race?

First, it's the only way she can win the Democratic nomination.

Second, if she runs on women's rights she can capture the lion's share of women voters and she can capture all of the liberal vote.

This strategy wouldn't work if she were in a 2-way or 3-way race for the nomination but in a race where all the other candidates are male and anti-choice, this should be Tennant's race to lose.

And yet I hear that Tennant's  phone bank workers are being handed scripts that sound almost exactly like the Tomblin campaign's slogan: more jobs and lower taxes.

Tennant can't beat the DINOs by campaigning like a DINO.

This year, Tennant needs to campaign like a girl and proudly run as the only pro-choice candidate in the Democratic race.

Tennant needs to pull the blah ad she's running on TV now and replace it with a simple ad where she looks into the camera and tells the women and the liberals of West Virginia that she is the only pro-choice candidate in the entire gubernatorial race. She needs to tell West Virginia women that if they come out to vote for her, there's not a "big man" or a guitar-picking, hymn-singing or election-fighting man in the race who can prevent her from looking out for West Virginia women when she's governor.

Never again will Natalie Tennant have the opportunity to make her gender and her liberalism work for her.  In any other year, running as the only pro-choice candidate in a conservative state would be a losing strategy but with the conservative vote split 4 ways this is the year when a woman can win by campaigning like a girl.

Campaign like a girl, Secretary Tennant. Run like a girl. The women of West Virginia can hand you the nomination if you'll just run like a girl. Don't run like Tomblin. Run like a girl.

01 May, 2011

Why I'm Exhausted From Defending Linkedin: An Open Letter To The Investors, Board, Management And Other Linkedin "Suits"

Remember Velma Hart? She's the black lady who made national news when she stood up in a televised Town Hall Meeting that she was "exhausted" from defending Barack Obama.

I feel like the Velma Hart of Linkedin. I'm exhausted from defending Linkedin.

I just spent hours composing a message to members of the three Linkedin groups I own and manage explaining to them how the latest ham-handed "anti-spam" Linkedin technological change will adversely effect members' ability to send messages to each other unless they do so as 1st level connections or unless they do so as participants in a group discussion.

To thwart spammers, Linkedin no longer allows me to look you up and send you a message from an advanced search screen. Let's say a recruiter, HR manager, department head or other heavy LI user sets up an advanced search to find everybody in her network with a degree in accounting and let's say some of the people who show up in that search are members of some of the same groups as the searcher. The searcher no longer has a "send message" option at that screen unless the searcher and the intended recipient are 1st level connections.

This is another example of how the technological geniuses and engineers who run Linkedin don't understand the first damn thing about the humans who use their technology. The harder Linkedin makes it for people to "talk to each other" via Linkedin, the less often Linkedin account holders will log on and the less time they will spend there.

Is there NOBODY at Linkedin who understands this? If the suits who run Linkedin - Reid Hoffman, Nick Besbeas, Jeff Weiner, Deep Nishar, Skip Battle, Leslie Kilgore, Michael Moritz, David Sze, et al,  don't understand this then the investors need to rise up and make them understand that people with Linkedin accounts are just giving up on Linkedin in droves.

If I didn't know better, I'd swear Linkedin is deliberately driving users into the messaging-enabled arms of Facebook where, if I can see you I can send you a message unless you have disabled that messaging in your account settings. Of course, most Facebook account holders have not disabled that function. Why would they? The whole point of "social media" is to be able to talk to people via the social media platform you're using. Facebook makes that easy. Linkedin makes that hard.

In my 01 September 2010 blog post I said that Linkedin's artificial distinction between "professional" networking and the "social networking" of Facebook is not shared by the typical Linkedin user and has not survived first contact with the enemy (Facebook). Linkedin tries to say they don't compete with Facebook and, therefore, don't care if the Facebook user experience is making Linkedin users expect Linkedin to be more like Facebook. That's like a beer maker saying he doesn't mind losing sales to wine makers because their target markets are different. People have a limited amount of time to spend on networking platforms and if they are choosing to spend it on Facebook instead of Linkedin, that's going to cost Linkedin investors money. Don't they understand that?

Doesn't Deep Nishar, VP of User Experience at Linkedin, understand that the reason Linkedin has so-called "users" who haven't logged on in a year and can't remember their passwords is because Linkedin keeps making it harder, not easier, for users to talk to each other?

Isn't there a Linkedin investor out there who understands that "the Facebook effect" has forever shaped and elevated Linkedin user expectations?

Look, Linkedin, I get it. I do. You are trying to use your technology to enforce a particular networking philosophy. I understand. In a perfect world, the best way for me to "meet" a person I don't know is for me to be introduced to that person through a mutual friend. I agree, that's best. The mutual friend serves as a kind of "social and professional co-signer". I get it. I agree with it. But your average Linkedin user doesn't know how to use the "get introduced through a connection" function.

And what's the deal with asking us for the recipient's email address before we can send a connection request to that recipient? It may be that I haven't seen the recipient since 3 jobs ago but the recipient would gladly reconnect with me. Why do you make me go find them on Facebook so I can get their email address? If I have to find them on Facebook, send them a message, get their email address and then connect with them on Linkedin, what's to prevent me from just deciding that Facebook is easier to use and facilitates rather than hinders my communication with other people?

So, just as Velma Hart is "exhausted" from defending Obama, I am exhausted from defending Linkedin. Just the other day I told one of my Friends of Linkedin group members that I hope somebody who understands people as well as engineering will buy Linkedin and fully enable messaging between Linkedin account holders.
Read my 01 September 2010 post, "How Linkedin Must Change" at ::http://higginbothamatlarge.blogspot.com/2010/09/how-linkedin-must-change-adapting-to.html
Higginbotham at Large no longer accepts or publishes reader comments here. if you wish to send me suggestions or hate mail, email me at JosephHigginbotham@gmail.com. If you wish to discuss current events or politics with me, meet me at LinkedLiberals on Linkedin. If you wish to discuss the future of St. Albans, WV, meet me at LinkedSt.Albans on Linkedin.