The Democrat Party in California did something the national party could not do; they ran a unified campaign for the entire state. The themes of the Democrat campaign was attack Republican opponents and avoid their own records. Unlike most campaigns however, they did not rest with attacking their Republican opponents, they actually attacked the Republican base. Democrats employed focus group results, push polls and targeted mailing.
The Democrats employed a “campaign in a box” strategy. Republican candidates were classified into categories and then attacked by the same accusations that were used on the neighboring Republican candidate. It was literally a form letter “insert name here” approach. For example, Jack Sieglock and Abram Wilson were attached with the same accusation with the exact same wording in several flyers mailed into their districts. The only difference was the color scheme of the flyer. By centralizing printing operations and using “cookie cutter” mailers, not only did they save lots of money but they were able to use tested materials to maximize the damage inflicted on Republicans.
In their mailers Democrats divided the electorate into three groups. They tried to increase their own base, sway the fickle Decline to State voters and depress Republican turn-out. Many mailers appeared with subtle variations to micro-target various sub-groups of voters. Many districts saw 30 to 40 different mailers with different distributions.
In addition, high propensity Republican voters were targeted with “push polls” to try to reduce their support of Republicans and if possible discourage them from voting. “Push polls” disguise gossip and distortion into a Dr. Seuss style litany. They ask questions similar to these: If you knew your candidate was an axe murderer would you still support him? If you knew he beat his wife and liked the New York Yankees would you still support him? If you knew Sarah Palin sent him an email would you still voter for him? The voters are subjected to psychological warfare to separate them from their candidates.
By waiting for the month before the election, they caught the Republicans flatfooted again. Republicans knew that the Dems would “go negative” but by running decentralized campaigns with no coordination they had no idea what hit them. What I wrote in this blog is known only to a few outsiders to the Democrat campaign machine. The beauty of this strategy is that it uses the strength of the Republicans against themselves. Democrats divide and conquer by uniting.