The return of this blog.

Hello everyone.

Over the last three months (since the incident with the Idaho Democratic Party), a lot of things have changed. One of those things is my involvement in political campaigns and parties. For years, I have worked for Democratic campaigns and parties. However, I am no longer going to be working (or, to be more specific, employed) by a campaign or political party in the future. During my brief three days in Idaho, I was reminded as to why I wanted to leave the business of politics. The back-stabbing world of politics isn’t fun, and I want to lessen my involvement with politics on this level.

Still, with that being said, I do have a passion for understanding voting behavior, looking at election results, and creating predictive models for campaigns. While I might not be working in party politics full time, I still have this desire to continue writing about voting behavior and electoral shifts.

With that being said, this blog will go through a relaunch which will be entirely focused on voting behavior, geographical politics, and predictive (or nowcasting) electoral models. I will not be providing commentary on states of political campaigns or parties, unless it is somewhat focused on voting behavior in some way. I may provide additional information on campaign strategy, but not as often as voting behavior.

The main focus of my blog is going to be on electoral behavior and geography in the southern region of the United States. While most of it will focus on Florida, I will be looking at other states as well. I will also be writing about Canadian and Australian voting behavior, since I have a passion for these as well.

This blog has now become a labor of love. Yes, I do want to get as many people as possible to read it, and I will continue to actively promote it, but my main goal is to provide useful and accurate electoral assessments. I am purely focusing on quality.

So, in the coming weeks, this blog will be going through a transformation, along with a name change (which is to be determined). Stay tuned.

My story regarding my dismissal from the Idaho Democratic Party

First of all, I would like to say that this is the last statement I am going to make on this matter, as well as the absolute last time I will be working in politics. I have worked in politics for 28 years, and have not found it rewarding whatsoever. I have only worked in it because it is “what I know”. Luckily for me, my experience with the Idaho Democratic Party confirmed why I have had this dislike for politics. Therefore, after this article, I will not write or discuss politics, nor will I be responding to any media or individual requests for reactions or clarification regarding this or any other political issue.

Still, I think I need to tell my side of the story.

On August 13th, 2019, the Executive Committee of the Idaho Democratic Party had a meeting regarding my hiring. This was the second step of a two-step process, with the Personnel Committee being the first step (with my hire already being approved by them). The committee approved my hire, and I found out from Van Beechler the following day via email.

In mid-August, I received a phone call where I was informed that Chelsea Goana-Lincoln, one of the committee members, “strongly opposed” (direct quote) and voted against my hiring because I was, (again, direct quote), a “white male”. At this time I had not been officially hired by the party, which is the reason I mentioned on Twitter that the situation surrounding my hiring was not privy information (thus not covered by my confidentiality agreement, though I was threatened with legal action by the IDP within minutes of making that tweet).

On my first day in the office (September 4th, 2019), I had a meeting with Van Beechler, as well as with Jesse Maldonado and Elle Casner. During that meeting, Beechler stated that Chelsea Goana-Lincoln opposed and voted against my hiring as Executive Director because I was “not a person of color” (direct quote from Beechler) and that Goana-Lincoln believes that the party needs to “put their money where their mouth is” (direct quote from Beechler) when it comes to diversity. The other two attendees nodded in agreement as to the statement by Beechler about Goana-Lincoln.

The next evening (September 5th, 2019), we had a fundraiser for IDP trustees (basically people who donate $86 a month to the party, or $1000 a year). At that meeting, I was scheduled to speak, but when Beechler introduced me, she said I would not be speaking. She told me that she would come to the office the next day.

The next day (September 6th, 2019), which was coincidentally my birthday, Beechler came to the office at 3:15 PM and asked me how I thought things were going. I told her they were going well. However, she disagreed. She said that a number of trustees did not like me, and that one trustee “who is highly connected with the DNC” (direct quote from Beechler) found something that I had written previously that would “cause problems” (direct quote from Beechler). Beechler did not tell me what the writing was or the trustee who presented her the information. I asked her how she wanted to handle this, but she did not give me a direct answer. When I asked her if she was firing me, she said “yes”, saying that “we need to end your time here before things get out of hand” (direct quotes from Beechler). I left Idaho immediately after receiving my compensation check.

I will fully admit that I have written things in the past that would probably be considered controversial. However, the hiring process started in mid-May of this year. Basically, they had over three months to vet my candidacy regarding any controversies. Additionally, the IDP did not release any information about the hiring to the press, thus the trustees knew about my hiring before it was originally announced. Therefore, any evidence could have been presented to the IDP well before I arrived on September 3rd, 2019.

I don’t know if it was ignorance or a desire to promote diversity, but Beechler and others confirmed that Goana-Lincoln possibly discriminated against me during the hiring process because of race. Gender might be a reason as well, but I am not entirely sure. Furthermore, since I was on my probationary period with the party, the rules state that a person could be fired without a cause. However, the agreement does not state the process regarding the removal of the Executive Director. It also states that I should have been given due process, which I was not. Basically, I don’t know if the chair can unilaterally fire someone during the probationary period without any type of process. If that is the case, I see an absolute conflict of interest between the person who opposed my hiring because of my race and the person who ended up firing me (even though she used another excuse for my dismissal) since they are married. I was never asked to present my side of the story.

In an odd way, I need to thank the Idaho Democratic Party for my dismissal, not only because it has finally awaken me to the reason why I desire a total and complete break from politics, but because I don’t know if I could have worked at the IDP for a long period of time. The reason I say that is because, from my observation, the IDP is not a professional political party, but an activist party instead. Instead of trying to win seat, there was a push toward social justice warrior activism that led to the party talking about issue that will probably lead to certain defeat for Democratic candidates, especially in Idaho. It was this ‘set up for failure’ that made me feel uneasy about continuing my work as Executive Director.

Additionally, information that was presented to me (and subsequently to the donors at the fundraiser mentioned previously, thus the information is not protected by IDP privilege outlined in my agreement as this information was eventually publicly presented) regarding the GOTV effort had a number of methodological flaws. And while I told the party that we could present the numbers to the donors (even with its flawed methodology), I was not comfortable doing so. As someone who studied political science and has an extremely strong understanding of political numbers, the claims that were made in this publicly-released document were probably not correct (based on the universe presented, which I will not release knowledge of publicly).

Again, this is the last statement that I will make on this issue. This is also the last thing I will do regarding politics (with the exception of maybe donating to political candidates). It has not been a fun time, and I am somewhat glad that events transpired in the way in which they did, as it would have probably resulted in me eventually tendering my resignation in the near future anyway because of the direction that the party leadership and staff want to go. Still, I met many great people when I was in the Idaho Democratic Party, and I think many of them have the well-being of the party and its candidates in mind. Unfortunately, I think a small minority of people in the party will hold it back.

Dave Trotter

Short statement regarding my firing as Executive Director of the Idaho Democratic Party.

After a recent email by Jaren Wieland (which I produced on Twitter), I will not be making any additional press statements after this initial statement until I have secured legal counsel. As stated in that email, Mrs. Wieland (and through her the Idaho Democratic Party), threatened legal action against me if I broke my Idaho Democratic Party Personnel Handbook and Confidentiality Agreement (“Agreement”) that I had signed with the party on September 4th, 2019. I informed Mrs. Wieland that the Idaho Democratic Party did not give me a copy of the “Agreement”, and asked for one to be sent to me as soon as possible so I have guidance regarding any future statements. I have yet to hear back from either Mrs. Wieland or the Idaho Democratic Party regarding a copy of my “Agreement”. Additionally, I asked both Mrs. Wieland and the Idaho Democratic Party to produce other paperwork that I signed, and in which I was not given a copy of during my time of employment. As with the “Agreement”, they have yet to comply with these easily obtainable requests. 

With that being said, last night (September 8th, 2019) I filed a complaint with the Idaho Human Rights Commission regarding possible racial discrimination in my hiring process on August 13th, 2019. I will not be getting into the exact details of this possible racial discrimination since I am still waiting for either Mrs. Wieland or the Idaho Democratic Party to produce the “Agreement”. Regardless, I will be seeking legal counsel regarding this situation, and will make any future statements through other channels.



6:08 PM (9/9/2019) – As of this time, I have not received any of the documents I requested from either Mrs. Wieland or the Idaho Democratic Party. The request was made over eight hours ago.

7:02 PM (9/9/2019) – Documents requested have been received.


Lying in the Bed: The exact moment Hillary Clinton lost the election.



Since Election Night, Democrats have been scratching their heads and wondering why a highly-qualified Hillary Clinton lost. What was that precise moment that turned the tide? Was it the Comey letter? Was it the email server scandal? Was it the DNC email scandal? Democrats have been trying to find answers, but really cannot pinpoint the exact moment that cost Hillary the election.


Still, there is a starting point, a genesis if you like, that we can look at and say “there, that is when Clinton lost it”. That point didn’t happen in this election. It didn’t even happen in the last election. It didn’t even involve Hillary Clinton.

It happened in 1993.

During the 1992 Presidential Election, Democrats were looking for a “new way” or a “third way”. The New Democrat movement, created by the Democratic Leadership Council and it’s ironically-named think-tank the Progressive Policy Institute, forged a new path for Democrats which remained socially liberal but was fiscally moderate, or even conservative. The impact of the DLC and PPP on the Democratic Party can been seen in its change on language regarding trade between 1988 and 1992. The 1988 DNC platform supported trade, but mostly stressed protecting the American workers. However, the 1992 platform talked more about opening up trade and used weaker language when it came to protecting the American worker.

Then the 1993 Larry King debate happened. This is genesis.

Continue reading

Time for Florida Democrats to truly come together, not just talk about it.

FDP_130109Well, the vote is over. Stephen Bittel is going to be the chair of the Florida Democratic Party. From my projections, I assumed the vote would have gone to a second ballot, but it seems that some who were projected to go one way instead voted for Bittel. Either way, the race is over. Stephen Bittel is the Florida Democratic Party chair for the next four years, and all Democrats in the state must accept this result.

With this election, it is now time for Florida Democrats to come together. No, coming together does not mean submission. Coming together requires everyone to work with one another to make sure that Democrats win in Florida in 2018 and beyond. Remember, no matter what side you were on in this race, the end goal is to elect Democrats. Our eyes cannot be taken off of that primarily goal.

First, to the ground troops of the Florida Democratic Party; Stephen Bittel stated that he could raise money for the party. Overall, this is a good thing. Just because somebody raises money doesn’t mean that the cannot work on grassroots as well. Let’s see how much money he can bring it. But also, let’s see how well he can organize the party in general. Yes, we need to give Bittel the benefit of the doubt. And unlike Donald Trump, who wants to destroy our country, the end goal for all of us is to see Florida Democrats elected. I am sure I will be repeating that like a broken record, but it does need to be repeated.

Now, let me talk directly to Stephen Bittel (whom I doubt is reading this, but I will write it anyway). There are wounds in the FDP, a lot of wounds. Over the last four years, nobody did anything to heal those wounds. Instead, those at the grassroots level were treated inferior by the FDP executive. As a result, we see less people involved with the Florida Democratic Party. Since I  started my involvement with Florida Democrats in 1991, I have seen some numbers grow and some numbers fall. I have seen people come and go. I have seen people who have contributed a lot to the party decide to leave out of frustration. This needs to be addressed. So please, Chairman Bittel, be the person that can heal the wounds of the party.

While I recommend that Stephen Bittel listen to party activists, simply listening will not do. He will have to show that he truly understands the concerns of those on the ground. Providing lip service and then not working with the rank and file simply will not work. To heal these wounds, working together MUST be the top priority.

In order for the party to heal, the following needs to be done.

TransparencyIf there is any theme to this election, it would have to be a desire for a more transparent Florida Democratic Party. Transparency does not only mean that the executive keeps the state committee informed on a regular basis regarding the business of the party, it also means giving the state committee an “advise and consent” role when it comes to hiring major positions in the Florida Democratic Party.

Vendor reform: This was the biggest issue brought up by Alan Clendenin. Overall, the Florida Democratic Party has not done a good job when it comes to identifying those who provided services to the Florida Democratic Party. This is a top priority, and vendors should not be given contracts based on patronage.

Election reform: Stephen Bittel himself said that the way in which people have to qualify for the position was crazy (yes, somewhat ironic considering the challenges yesterday to candidate qualifications). Therefore, this is a campaign promise that needs to be kept. What will need to be done? Well, we have four years to decide that. Still, it needs to be done.

Shifting party operations to Central Florida: This is something which has been discussed quite often. It just makes sense form a practical standpoint. Bittel was the only one that did not commit to relocating the campaign operations.

BUILD THE DECS!!!!!!!: The people who are going to have the most impact when it comes to winning local elections are the men and women who knock on the doors, know the neighborhoods, and are able to talk to the voters. When I stated I wanted to run for Florida House District 44, I said so because they are my neighbors. I know these people. I knew that the tide was changing among my Republicans and independent friends. Yet, nobody listened. The state party should build a strong relationship between Tallahassee (or wherever) and the local DECs. Another one of Bittel’s campaign promises was to have people working throughout the state as possible regional field directors. But still, the people who are going to be able to find the best candidates to run are those who live in the counties, not the state party. Therefore, we need to give DECs the resources to go out and recruit quality candidates.

Don’t take sides in primaries: It didn’t work in Orange County, and the FDP does more harm than good in these situations.

Working together NEEDS to be done now. Yes, this means that Stephen Bittel and Stacey Patel need to work together for the common good! This isn’t a recommendation, it is a requirement! And because rank-and-file Democrats need to make sure that the state party is working for them and not against them, it is time to organize for the next FDP chair race in four years. It is time to do it now. If Stephen Bittel does a great job, then everyone can reelect him. However, if he does a poor job, Democrats need to make sure that he can truly be challenged.

Lisa King is the best choice for Florida Democratic Party chair.

15622158_431485553642192_7550311417053279000_nOne thing that has to be said about the 2017 race for Florida Democratic Party chair is that it has been quite open. In previous years, everything was done behind closed doors. However, multiple candidate forums have been live streamed on Facebook, giving everyone a look at the candidates, not just state committee members. Because of the nature of these forums, it is important that the state committee picks the party leader that best represents the views of the party rank-and-file members in order for the election to have legitimacy. Yes, we have entered a new era of party politics, which will benefit everyone.

When looking over all of the candidates vying for the position, one candidate stands out as the best choice for chair of the Florida Democratic Party…Lisa King.

Lisa King has been involved with Florida Democrats since she was a child in the 1970s. When I got involved with the party in 1991, King was an important person in the Florida Young Democrats, as well as productive. Since then, she has remained committed to the Florida Democratic Party, as well as to Democrats in Duval County. As far as electoral success, King outperformed Hillary Clinton in Jacksonville City Council District 2 by 5%. Even though District 2 was a strong Republican district, King still raised $173,226 from organizations throughout the political ideology spectrum, which is quite impressive for a Democrat. In 2016, Duval County was one of the only bright spots for the Democrats on Election Night, with King being an important part of the North Florida Clinton team.

In addition to her involvement, she does seem to have the professional comportment needed to hold the office. During her campaign, she has talked about how she plans to bring people together, citing the work she had done in Duval County to bring Sanders and Clinton supporters together after the DNC Convention. As far as her plans for the party, King wants to make the party more open. She is the first candidate to say that selection of party staff should not solely determined by the party chair, but open to the FDP state committee. This approach would provide the democratic reform and transparency that is needed in the Florida Democratic Party.

Another benefit of Lisa King’s campaign is the no-drama approach that she is taking to campaigning. In 1787, James Madison wrote about factionalism in Federalist No. 10, warning us how small groups of people could work contrary to others or a community as a whole. In this election, just like past elections, we see factionalism, with the party establishment supporting Bittel, the Sanders progressives supporting Bullard, and those who are mad at Allison Tant supporting Clendenin. However, King, as well as Leah Carius, seeks the support of all Democrats, not just ones in a certain group. In order to have a strong Florida Democratic Party, the chair needs to be one that can work with all factions, and Lisa King seems to be the logical choice, and has proven that she has the ability to do so with her record of bringing Democrats together in Duval County.

Additionally, understanding the entire state of Florida is also another asset of Lisa King. As a Duval County Democrat, she is in the unique position to understand both rural and urban voters. While from North Florida, she is not Tallahassee-based, thus does not live inside the Tallahassee bubble. On a number of occasions, King has stated that the FDP needs to take different approaches to different parts of the state, and that is absolutely true. Bill Montford would never win a primary in Boca Raton, and a state party chair needs to recognize this.

Lisa King is, by far, the most well-rounded candidate running for this position. Even with that being the case, Florida Democrats still have a strong group of candidates. Still, some do have some shortcomings.

The choice of US Senator Bill Nelson is Stephen Bittel. Of course, he provides a strong fundraising background, which is needed for any political party. But during this campaign, he has failed to show that he has a strong understanding of how state and county parties work. During most of the forums, Bittel’s remarks have been more focused on name-dropping and anecdotal evidence than providing a concrete plan to rebuild the Florida Democratic Party. Still, one question that has not been asked (to my surprise) is how Bittel plans to take his DNC fundraising experience and transfer it to state politics in Florida. Raising money for people named Clinton and Obama is much easier than raising money for Florida House candidates. The only way to see this being successful is by having a top-down approach to rebuilding the party, and having a high-profile, top-of-the-ticket candidate drive the rest of the Democratic ticket. But Democrats have done this before, and it hasn’t worked.

The other high-profile South Floridian in this race is former Senator Dwight Bullard. Bullard is a great legislator, a great speaker, and overall nice guy. However, he does not seem to have a strong grasp at the problems that are facing the Florida Democratic Party. As Steve Schale said (who I totally agree with on this issue), the FDP chair needs to be a CEO or a manager, not an activist. Yet, most of Bullard’s message, as well as that of his supporters, seems to be more about ideology than party structure. As someone who voted in the Orange County presidential preference primary for Bernie Sanders, I am the first to admit that Bernie’s message is not one that will win over Florida. The fact is that Hillary won 64.4% of the vote. Another progressive, Alan Grayson, was also destroyed in the primary. Not only does this show that the state in general is not progressive, but registered Democrats are not that progressive either. A message based on far-left ideology will just hurt the party, not help it.

As I stated before, Leah Carius is someone who should be listened to when it comes to rebuilding the Florida Democratic Party. As a true DEC chair (not just someone who uses a DEC chair position as a stepping stone for FDP chair) she can provide knowledge and vision when it comes to DEC issues. She has clearly shown that she understands the disconnect between the state party and the DECs, as well as the struggles the local DECs have in general. However, the FDP chair needs an understanding of statewide party politics (which is why her having a map of all the counties in Florida during some live streams is a liability, not an asset). As much as people want to move the party’s operations from Tallahassee to Central Florida (which should have been done years ago), the party still needs to be connected to Tallahassee. Therefore, someone who knows Tallahassee as well as the rest of the state is vitally important. If Carius was to lose, the FDP should create a DEC Liaison position and, without hesitation, give her that position. Again, Leah Carius is valuable to the Florida Democratic Party.

Alan Clendenin has run for this position before, and is usually the candidate with the best vision regarding the future of the Florida Democratic Party. When it comes to some of the problems that face the FDP, Clendenin knows them like the back of his hand. The plan that he has presented, which is not much different from what he presented in the past, would move Florida Democrats in the right direction. However, having a good plan and being able to effectively implement that plan are two different things.

Clendenin’s run this time around seems to have a different tone than previously. And while it is not necessarily Clendenin that has change, those who support his candidacy have changed. In 2013, Clendenin’s campaign was based on providing Florida Democrats an alternative to the status quo. However, in 2017, Clendenin’s support seems to come from those who either were mad that Allison Tant in 2013, or those who have fallen out of favor with Tant and the Florida Democratic Party since 2017, and might see supporting Clendenin’s candidacy as a way to get back at the party or Tant personally. While Clendenin’s plan is spot on, this type of factionalism is not what Florida Democrats need to move the party forward.

Overall, Florida Democrats have some strong choices when it comes to Florida Democratic Party chair, with each person bringing different things to the table. However, if this race has shown us anything, it is that factionalism is destroying the Florida Democratic Party. Determining support for state chair candidates based on patronage, ideology, jealousy, anger, or personality should not be the norm. Unfortunately it has become the norm, and Lisa King seems to be the strongest candidate for the FDP chair position to bring Florida Democrats together.

Over the last few weeks, this website has seriously questioned Stephen Bittel’s and Dwight Bullard’s ability to lead the Florida Democratic Party. However, if one of them wins this position, it is important for all of us on every side of this race to extend an olive branch and talk to one another about the future of the Florida Democratic Party. Yes, we can have disagreements, but everyone should be focusing on the common good, which is to get Democrats elected in Florida.

Yes, many of us, including myself, have fanned the flames of factionalism. But with Trump’s victory, Democrats need to work together more than during any time in the past. That means burying the hatchet when it comes to personal clashes that have happened over the years. Basically, it is time to grow up.

This also means staying away from vicious labeling of those who we disagree with, something that I was a victim of in 2013 and that Kartik Krishnaiyer has been a victim of this time around. This level of discourse should never be tolerated, and Florida Democrats need to shut the door on anyone willing practice this method of discourse, and not further embrace them. That is something Donald Trump would do, not Democrats!

Florida Democrats have the opportunity to move their party forward. As MacKenzie McHale from The Newsroom said, “are you in or are you out”?

Florida’s new political landscape: Republicans are expanding, and Democrats should worry.


This is where statewide elections are being won.

With the election of Donald Trump in November, Democrats were quick to Monday Morning Quarterback as to why Hillary Clinton lost, especially in the State of Florida, where polls were looking good for her. As with other states, we heard that voter turnout was down for Democrats. We also heard that rural America was voting for Trump in record numbers, which could have tilted the balance in states like Florida. However, neither of those seem to be the case in Florida. Instead, Florida has a changing political landscape.

First, let’s look at the voter turnout scenario. Many in the media have said that if we look at the election overall, that  voter turnout wasn’t down compared to 2012, and they were right. But still, looking at general voter turnout doesn’t tell us the whole story. The question that needs to be asked is if turnout increased in places where Trump preformed well, but was lower in places where Hillary Clinton performed well? Using county-level data, it seems that there was no relationship between vote choice and voter turnout (with a model comparing voter turnout increases to Hillary’s percentage in a county, the R-squared was only .05). In Broward County, turnout was nearly 4% higher, while it was 2% lower in Escambia County. So looking at turnout would not explain what happened on Election Day. Continue reading

Florida Democratic Party, Crimea, and the question of legitimacy.

crimea_0When it comes to the issue of Crimea, I have always been torn. Of course, many in the international community argue that Russia invaded Ukraine, thus violating Ukrainian sovereignty, which is absolutely correct. However, governments are legitimate because of the consent of the governed. In the case of Crimea, most of the ethnic Russians (which is an overwhelming majority in Crimea) reject the Ukrainian government, thus Ukraine does not receive the consent to govern in the region. Basically, the overwhelming majority of the Crimean people rejected the legitimacy of being governed by Kiev and favor the government in Moscow. Even if Crimea would have had a fair referendum, I still think the result would have been overwhelming support for Putin’s government.

So, when looking at Crimea, who is correct? Is Ukraine and the international community correct because Russia annexed part of Ukraine, thus violating Ukraine’s legal sovereign territory? Or is Russia correct, because it has received the consent of the governed as the legitimate government of Crimea? Cases could be made for either situation.

If we look at the Florida Democratic Party, there is a similar situation taking place. Continue reading

Party registration and vote choice in Florida during 2016 Presidential Election.

Over the last few weeks, I have been putting together a data set for precinct-level results in Florida. I am still waiting for some final numbers, but I have enough to at least do a preliminary examination of how Florida voted. With the numbers I have, which is over 5,500 precincts (almost all), there is a clear pattern of party registration in relation to vote choice.

Overall, we see that Democratic-leaning precincts were more likely to vote for Trump, while Republican leaning precincts did not break for Clinton. The way that I tested this was by comparing major party voter registration to differences in major party vote total, with positive numbers representing Democrats and negatives representing Republicans. For example, if a precinct had 40% registered Democrats and the Republicans had 30% in that precinct, the number would be +10%. The same applied to the Trump-Hillary vote. The reason that I did major party vote was the lessen the skew that the independent voters might bring. So, in a precinct like Miami-Dade 366, where over 50% of the voters are NPA or minor party, the partisan gap shows only 2.61% difference. Basically, this assumes that NPA and minor party registrants are split in a similar way that a precinct does in major party registration (thus meaning that Democrats would be slightly favored in Miami-Dade 366). I could control for NPAs and minor party voters, but decided not to for right now. Also, precincts with under 25 voters were excluded because they could skew the results as well, since this examination is based on percentages, not raw vote totals. Even with these precincts excluded, there were 5,390 observations, which means only 2.53% of precincts were excluded from the analysis.trump-clinton Continue reading

Time for the Florida Democratic Party to employ political scientists.

dscf47322It happens every election cycle. Political consultants, campaign managers, and even candidates think that they know best when it comes to running a campaign, creating a message, and targeting voters. However, most of this so-called “wisdom” comes from years of doing it the same way without having anyone challenge their methods. We always hear that “this is always the way it has been done” or “we have been successful with doing [insert method here] in past campaigns”. But have they? As far as I know, nobody in party politics have tested to see if their particular campaign methods either work or fail. They do not exclude rival explanations, thus they do not get an accurate assessment of what does and what does not work in political campaigns. Basically, people simply guess as to what method works or not.

In political science, as well as in any science, we try to determine the difference between correlation and causation. Unfortunately, many political consultants and campaign managers do not understand the difference between the two. For example, a political consulting firm that does direct mailing might say that they are successful because eight of the ten campaigns they provided direct mail pieces for actually won. But was it the direct mailers? What about other factors? Were the eight winners incumbents? Were they in more partisan districts that favored their candidacy? Did a good debate performance help? As for the losers, were they horrible candidates? Did they have criminal records? Were they outspent 10-1? Were they unknown to the voters? Were they against the incumbent? Continue reading