Thus spake Sir Charlie in a fundraising email, as reported by today’s interesting Globe story about the fundraising of the various candidates for Governor.
That quote tells you a lot about Charlie Baker’s strategy, which appears to be, basically, to raise as much money as he can, and spend it carpet-bombing hapless TV watchers with endless ads, presumably both positive and negative. Sure, Baker’s campaign manager makes an obligatory nod to grassroots campaigning (“The campaign is using technology, similar to that employed by Patrick in 2006, which allows volunteers to organize supporters independently of campaign phone banks and headquarters and feed information to a central database, he said”), but that’s clearly not the focus. Team Baker is trying to win this race the old fashioned way: by spending a fortune on pricey consultants (“Baker’s biggest outlay is the more than $1 million he has devoted in 2010 to personnel, including at least $87,000 to his media consultants”) and on TV ads.
Governor Patrick, by contrast, is going back to what worked so well in 2006: Patrick “is investing heavily in a ground game to reach voters.” According to Doug Rubin:
“We believe investing in the field and these one-on-one conversations we have in person are what really helps fuel the race,” said Doug Rubin, Patrick’s chief strategist.
Good field work, Rubin said, cuts through the confusing clutter of television and radio ads and automated phone calls that proliferate at the end of campaigns.
Also of interest are the raw dollar numbers, helpfully assembled in a Globe graphic:
At the end of the day, this seems to be basically a good-news story for Patrick, with a caveat. The good news is that Baker has spent a crapload of money, and hasn’t got much movement in the polls to show for it: he remains down 6-8 points, where he’s been for months. Another piece of good news is that Tim Cahill’s $3 million war chest remains largely intact, which means that he seems likely to remain a factor, which, as recent polling showed pretty convincingly, is good for Patrick. The caveat, of course, is that Patrick will need to sustain the increased pace of fundraising he’s shown in recent weeks (in which he’s outraised Baker). The burn rate will be high down the stretch, and Patrick doesn’t need to match Baker ad for ad, but he does need to make the air war respectable.
Basically, I think recent events – including Scott Brown’s win – prove that, in general, a good grassroots ground game is essential, and beats a top-down air assault if it’s part of a well-run campaign. But it doesn’t happen by itself. It’s not too early to think about what your role will be once the campaign kicks into high gear!