September 9, 2006

A Data Point for Future Campaign Marketers

Justin Katz

The flier at left, which arrived at my house within the past week (fittingly, on garbage day), will stand as the final motivation for me to actually take the time to go out on primary day and actively vote against Linc Chafee.

No doubt exacerbated by current events and the specific fears that plague aware citizens of the day, I find this imagery both disturbing in its callousness and offensive in its aggression on a very basic level. Take a bow, National Republican Senatorial Committee; although I can't claim that you've driven me away from a vote for the candidate whom you favor, you've most certainly increased Mr. Laffey's votes by a count of at least one.

If it should happen that Mr. Laffey wins and you shift your focus toward his election, please learn from your mistakes and don't sway voters toward Sheldon Whitehouse.

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I'm not sure what's more offensive, the mushroom cloud or the fact that Chafee just denounced this EXACT attack in the Boston Globe the other day.

Now I really think they're TRYING to lose.

Maybe Linc has a SWEET horseshoeing gig lined up.

Posted by: Greg at September 9, 2006 4:34 PM

This reminds me of the infamous Democrat TV ad aimed at Barry Goldwater, which begins (if I recall correctly) with imagery of a young girl smelling a flower, followed by a mushroom cloud (representing what would happen if Goldwater was elected).

So do we now have LBC - Lyndon Baines Chafee?

Posted by: Tom W at September 9, 2006 4:54 PM

That ad was actually a bit more dramatic than you make it sound, Tom. Here it is.

Posted by: Justin Katz at September 9, 2006 5:01 PM


With regards to your last sentence, it seems that the NRSC won't be trying to sway voters at all should Laffey win. According to today's NYT, they've already anounced they will concede RI to the Democrats if Laffey wins on Tuesday (h/t John Miller).

Posted by: Andrew at September 9, 2006 6:57 PM

The NRSC? Let's see, if my memory serves me right they have done everything possible from the $500k, relentless attacks in print, radio and TV, to covert push polls and who knows what else before Tuesday.

Ruthless, shameless, cold blooded, and brazen men who live by the sword usually die by the sword.

Victory will be sweet indeed on Tuesday and again when Laffey out manuvers, out campaigns, and just plain crushes Casablanca in November.

J Mahn

Posted by: Joe Mahn at September 9, 2006 8:14 PM

Thanks for the link to the NYT article.

With friends like the NRSC, who needs enemies? Let them take their ball and go home.

It also goes to show just how scared the Chafee / NRSC camp is - they're trying a "nuclear option" to discourage tepid Laffey supporters who believed that the NRSC would come around to Laffey should he win the primary (and they still might, this announcement may well be BS).

The IRONIC BUT BEAUTIFUL PART is the the NRSC has just given an even greater reason for Whitehouse supporters to crossover and vote for Laffey, for the NRSC has just announced unilateral Republican surrender / sure victory Whitehouse.

(This is not to say that I subscribe to the conventional wisdom that Laffey can't beat Whitebread.)

Posted by: Tom W at September 9, 2006 8:22 PM

Still no word from Anthony since Linc detonated his already slim chances of winning by delaying the Bolton vote.

Posted by: Greg at September 9, 2006 10:33 PM

C'mon folks:

1. Do your really think the NRSC ad is "offensive"? You're reminding me of an NBA player who gets charged and jumps back 20 feet crying "call a foul ref".

2. There is no way the national GOP will play a role if Laffey should win the primary. Before Laffey announced his decision to run, they warned him that they would spend money against him and they have kept their word. Now they're being equally honest in saying that they're not going to spend any money if Laffey should win the primary and people are doubting them. Hmm....

Besides even if they wanted to help Laffey, they couldn't do it now. Whitehouse and the DSCC would be all over them for hypocrisy if they did.

Posted by: Anthony at September 9, 2006 11:19 PM

Your best argument for Chafee is just absolutely incredible in its stupidity

In other words, Chafee is saying "I know you don't like me, but my opponent can't win the general, so vote for me." Not exactly what I call a convincing argument.

It is analogous to being a Red Sox fan, and rooting for the Yankees because the liklihood is that the Red Sox won't make it to the World Series.

It is the desperate cry of a losing campaign. Get your resume in order.

Posted by: Jim at September 9, 2006 11:24 PM


Regarding your number 2: the NRSC is being ludicrously bold, then. I, for one, am not going to be bullied into voting for a candidate in that manner, and I suspect a significant segment of the Republican base across the nation will be turned off by the attempt.

Posted by: Justin Katz at September 10, 2006 12:06 AM

It's just blowing off steam. I refuse to believe the NRSC will completely abandon Laffey if he wins, even if it gives Whitehouse the hypocrisy issue. But face it: if the GOP is going to hold the Senate, the party must commit most of its resources toward the 5-6 incumbents who are in hot races. None of them poll 30 points behind a Democrat, I'm sure.
And can anybody think of a Rhode Island Republican who's ever won statewide after a divisive primary? (Carcieri 2002 was a blowout by the end, and Almond-Machtley '94 was pretty gentlemanly). When Laffey asks for Chafee's support, there can only be four words: talk to the hand. And Laffey will use them if Chafee wins.

Posted by: Rhody at September 10, 2006 12:25 AM

Believe it or not, this is like the only mailer that I haven't received yet! I've gotten an average of 7-10 of these every day, including one yesterday that even tried to make it look like Laffey likes Hillary Clinton's position on abortion! It was so bad that I had to laugh. Whatever shame Liddy Dole and the other NRSC hacks had was lost many, many months ago. I don't think I'm ever going to give them a dime after all this. I can tell you one thing, if Tuesday is as bad for them as I think it will be, Liddy's going to be unemployed well before Chafee is in January!

From what I can see of the mailer posted here, I'm absolutely offended by what it's inferring -- especially being this close to the anniversary of 9/11, but hardly surprised by it. I actually thought of the LBJ "Daisy" ad, too. Unfortunately, they will go as low as they feel they need to -- which is probably even lower by Monday. Of course, this was almost certainly produced and mailed well before Senator Chafee's recent comments directly denouncing his own campaign's tactics.

PS I saw and actually shook hands with outgoing junior Sen. Chafee while at WaterFire tonight. I might be doing everything in my power to make him unemployed, but I can still be polite. He was with his wife and a few campaign staff, with a "Keep Chafee" sign. Let's just say, he didn't give the appearance of someone who thinks he going to win on Tuesday -- it was more like someone resigned to losing -- badly.

Posted by: Will at September 10, 2006 3:24 AM

I don't have to worry about putting my resume together regardless of who wins the Senate seat. I'm probably one of the older people on this blog and my interest is in trying to keep the Senate Republican.

And no, a vote for Steve Laffey is the Republican equivalent of a vote for Ralph Nader in the president. He's still down 30+ points in the general and a Laffey victory will mean a Whitehouse win.

Look, nobody really knows what will happen on Tuesday. But I do know what will happen in Novemeber if Laffey does win.

Posted by: Anthony at September 10, 2006 8:07 AM

"Look, nobody really knows what will happen on Tuesday. But I do know what will happen in Novemeber if Laffey does win."

If you can't predict 2 days from now, how can you predict November, oh Great Karnac?

Posted by: Greg at September 10, 2006 8:59 AM

The past isn't always prelude. That's why every mutual fund advert says that historical results are no guarantee of future performance. Re: Laffey/Whitehouse, both the context and the candidates are different than in the past. And I strongly doubt Mike Donilon is discounting the threat posed by Steve Laffey, if he wins on Tuesday.

Posted by: John at September 10, 2006 10:47 AM

And there is nothing wrong with the Laffey campaign sending recorded messages graphically describing an abortion, right? This is the kind of representation he'll bring to the Senate. Sick and twisted right wing zealot!

Posted by: Rino Cooke at September 10, 2006 11:12 AM

Unlike most people on this blog, I will vote for either Chafee or Laffey come November. If Chafee wins, Sheldon Whitehouse has so much ammunition on his side, it's scary. Thanks a lot NRSC. Even if you beat Laffey, you messed us up with Whitehouse. There goes our Republican seat. This is my last post of the cycle. It's gotten too depressing. Maybe next time we'll all be able to unite behind a common candidate and not cannibalize our alrady marginalized chances. Anthony, your comments have been appreciated. One question: will you vote for Laffey if he wins?

Posted by: Tia Bonds at September 10, 2006 12:18 PM

Just a quick note on finances. The NRSC may not provide a nickel towards Laffey's November campaign, but I predict a TON of Republican money will arrive at Laffey's doorstep once he wins on Tuesday. I also believe that the win, along with cash sans NRSC will propel him to victory in November over the - not to be overestimated - Mr. Whitehouse.

By the way, as much as we Laffey supporters have taunted Anthony along the way, I tip my hat to him for his unabashed participation in a lively debate. I suspect he won't abandon his general views once the choice becomes clearly between Laffey and Whitehouse.

Posted by: Chuck at September 10, 2006 12:49 PM

"And there is nothing wrong with the Laffey campaign sending recorded messages graphically describing an abortion, right? This is the kind of representation he'll bring to the Senate. Sick and twisted right wing zealot!"

I'm still not sure if I think that might have been an NRSC dirty trick or not. Laffey hasn't run on the abortion issue, so I have a hard time believing that this attack was his crew's idea.

Doesn't mean it's not, it just seems like a square peg in a round hole to me.

Posted by: Greg at September 10, 2006 1:42 PM

Chuck is too funny. It shows the Laffey arrogance. He is already looking passed this election. That's always dangerous. Vote for Laffey then when Laffey gets crushed in November and we turn over the Senate you can take credit. You really showed us! Moron.


Posted by: Rino Cooke at September 10, 2006 1:43 PM


The Laffey campaign had nothing to do with that phone thing about partial birth abortion. I wouldn't be surprised if it were some kind of Karl Rove operation myself -- the particular group that was doing that, from what I understand, was very active in trying to get President Bush re-elected in 2004, especially in Ohio. President Bush (or at least his administration) is publically backing Sen. Chafee. If anything, Mayor Laffey has tried to downplay his views on abortion (which are pro-life, but hardly "far right") and place his focus on economic and other "bread and butter" issues.

Posted by: Will at September 10, 2006 3:30 PM

That may or may not be so however Laffey isn't actively trying to discourage these sick ads. I don't understand why Steve Laffey would take the right to choose from women. Isnt it more of a control thing? I mean it is the womans body right? That kind of government control should not interfere in peoples personal lives.


Posted by: Rino Cooke at September 10, 2006 3:38 PM

The American Research Group has a new poll of the Republican Primary showing Chafee leading by 8 points based on 384 telephone interviews with likely Republican primary voters 4/25 – 5/2. Margin of error is 5%.

If the primary election for US Senate were being held today between Lincoln Chafee and Steve Laffey, for whom would you vote – Chafee or Laffey?

Likely Primary Voters – Lincoln Chafee 48% Steve Laffey 39% Undecided 13%

Republicans (56%) – Lincoln Chafee 46% Steve Laffey 42% Undecided 12%

Independents (44%) – Lincoln Chafee 51% Steve Laffey 35% Undecided 14%

Looks like the voters are breaking in favor of the incumbent Chafee causing a typical final 48 hours which usually favors the incumbent. I guess Steve is beginning down that slippery slope.


Posted by: Rino Cooke at September 10, 2006 3:47 PM


Was that poll conducted between April 25 and May 2 of this year, as your post suggests?

That's a suspiciously high undecided numer for two days before the election especially for a primary and for a race involving an incumbent. If the poll was conducted in April and May, the undecided number makes more sense.

IMO, this race is unpollable -- there are no reliable guides to the composition of the electorate and how the poll comes out depends totally on the nature of the likely voter screen and the assumptions that are made about the composition of the primary electorate. My gut tells me Chafee's toast, but we'll know soon.

Posted by: Bob at September 10, 2006 4:13 PM

you're spinning like a top! watch out, or soon you might tip over. that poll was done back in april! get your head out of the past and start paying attention to the present.

Posted by: Lorelai G. at September 10, 2006 4:21 PM

Lorelai, I believe the appropriate term, in Chafee parlance, is "spinning like a weathervane."

Posted by: Dave Anderson at September 10, 2006 4:34 PM

Will, your Karl Rove paranoia sounds like something from the far left blogs. I'm angred by the way the national Republicans have participated in the race. But the anger should be directed towards Senator Chafee, who has allowed and participated in this type of bottom-feeding politics.

Should RI turn blue, it will be, for the most part, the fault of Chafee and his miserable campaign. Another consequence? This conservative has decided not to vote for Chafee even if he wins on Tuesday.

The Karl Rove conspiracy theories should be left to the fringe left.

Posted by: mike at September 10, 2006 5:20 PM

I haven't seen the American Research poll. If you meant September 5, then it's recent. If you really meant May 5, it's not relevant. This is a weird race and I don't think anyone is able to use the polls to predict the outcome.

It's now a cliche, but it's about turnout.

Posted by: Anthony at September 11, 2006 12:53 AM

Mike, perhaps I have been reading the Daily Kos and the local lefty loonies too much. I'm a strong believer in the concept of "know thine enemy." However, you shouldn't discount the depths to which people in power will go to retain it, when they are not guided by moral principle.

I'm pretty sure that Linc Chafee is not actively running his campaign. He's flatly admitted that he's been doing what his handlers in Washington have told him to do -- which is to run the nastiest, most personally negative campaign in Rhode Island history. It's turning off many of his own supporters. I think whatever positive legacy that he may have earned for the good person that he is, will unfortunately be tarnished by the very nasty campaign that he allowed to occur on his behalf.

I'm going to borrow a "Clintonism" here, so bare with me again ... I'm hopeful that voters on Tuesday will "vote their hopes, not their fears." Chafee's campaign -- aided by the NRSC -- has been based almost entirely on fear.

Posted by: Will at September 11, 2006 2:36 AM


Posted by: Rino Cooke at September 11, 2006 6:54 AM

It's impossible to poll this race - there are so many different dynamics. Yes, there is a growing perception that this race is breaking toward Laffey, but that may cause the Dems and independents who had planned to vote for him, thinking he'd be an easier opponent for Whitehouse to beat, to back away. Plus, some Dems might be lured back by the secretary of state primary (just as dirty as Chafee-Laffey, although less money involved).
Finally, this NRSC guy who says they'll abandon RI if Laffey wins...don't believe him. If the GOP was in a better situation nationally and was talking about gaining seats instead of just struggling to hold on to the Senate, they'd have backed Laffey - I'll bet a lot of these folks, if you asked them at the local watering hole after work, are dying to see Linc go down.
Just a thought: anybody else think the nasty tone of the NRSC ads is an attempt to sabotage Linc and his rep as a good guy? After all, Rove is involved here.

Posted by: Rhody at September 11, 2006 10:15 AM

Since the end of July, ARG has only conducted two polls, one a national poll of Bush's approval ratings and one a CT Senate poll. I guess if you were a RINO you'd have to go get an old May poll from ARG to feel good about Chafee's chances tomorrow. Chafee is running like a desperate candidate, and it isn't because his internal polls show him ahead, much less comfortably ahead.

Posted by: AuH2ORepublican at September 11, 2006 12:38 PM

Just watch my television show on public access and I will explain everything.

Posted by: Rino Cooke at September 12, 2006 1:40 PM