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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Why John Gregg Lost

As promised earlier this month. INDY REPUBLICAN is giving it's own postmortem view as to why we all got the Governors race here in Indiana wrong. As we have stated here previously we had outlined Eric Holcomb's many weaknesses as a candidate. We stand by every word in those posts. But  as with all elections the Governors race did not occur in a vacuum. Outside events played a role in shaping the outcome of the race. Overall we feel that John Gregg ran a good campaign and Eric Holcomb didn't run the best campaign. However that being said there are several areas where the Indiana Democratic Party messed up with other races and that along with other factors is what allowed Gregg to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Gregg ran a good attack ad against Holcomb arguing about how Holcomb was selected by the State Republican apparatchiks and not by the voters. Which is a criticism of Holcomb we have made as well. But the fact that as we pointed out this summer is how democrats did the same thing when they dumped Baron Hill and replaced him with Evan Bayh to run for the Senate. So attacking the backroom deal way in which Holcomb was selected probably was diluted by the fact Democrats had done the same with the race for the Senate. Hence the attacks on Holcomb didn't land the punches they otherwise would have. Gregg did phenomenally well at fundraising. He raised almost as much as Mitch Daniels did in his 2004 race. We can understand Gregg's campaign being proud of this. However bragging about having raised this near record haul was not a good idea. Gregg's whole campaign was being pitched to the voters that he was a different kind of candidate, one who would bring together both parties, a candidate who was not a typical politician. That seemed to be working. When his campaign decided to boast of his fundraising this sent a message that he was just another politician interested only in raising money and also made him appear somewhat less than squeaky clean. Gregg did make mention briefly of Eric Holcomb's very nasty 2000 race for state representative. But did not elaborate or go in depth as to the details of that race. If he had pointed out how Holcomb had accused his opponent of promoting perversion. That would have seriously undermined old Eric. Since the voters were not given that information simply saying that Holcomb had engaged in one of the nastiest campaigns in state history did not give undecided voters any reason to either vote against Holcomb or to board the John Gregg express. Gregg was good at rebutting attacks on himself which is something most candidates are terrible at. He was not however as skilled at attacking Holcomb. Not that his attacks were bad it's just they should have been better. A experienced candidate like Gregg should have been aware of this. The first mention in campaign ads that Holcomb was the new candidate for Governor actually came from the Gregg campaign. Bad move. They should have let Holcomb be the one to make his first move. With Gregg in the unique position for a Indiana Democrat of having both more money and higher name recognition than his republican opponent. Gregg should have spent his time building himself up, campaigning non stop throughout the state, and until Holcomb was able to actually get his name out there, keep the race about why Gregg should be Governor. So that by the time that Holcomb would have been able to scrape enough money together to run ads. Gregg would have solidified his position even further and Holcomb would have had an even bigger problem. By mentioning Holcomb in an attack ad Gregg simply gave Holcomb free advertising and made Holcomb's name recognition go up. Yes it was bad publicity for Holcomb. But it got Holcomb's name out there and gave him a boost he desperately needed. Gregg should have not mentioned Holcomb period unless or until Holcomb had gotten his name out. Free piece of advice to all you aspiring candidates out there: Do not help your opponent in anyway! Don't attack them unless they give you reason to.

As to why we all felt so strongly that Gregg would win. Simply put given Gregg's skill at fundraising, his having campaigned for Governor for over a year versus Holcomb's three and a half months, combined with the fact that all polling up to that point had shown that Gregg was ahead. With the exception of a last minute Howey Politics poll that showed Gregg and Holcomb tied (more on that in a minute). The trend seemed to be breaking Gregg's way. Even Larry Sabato the great political scientist and publisher of The Crystal Ball thought Gregg would win. What all of us and Dr. Sabato missed is the last minute poll that showed Holcomb and Gregg tied 42-42 and the number of undecided voters having grown. This should have told us that Holcomb was improving his position, that Gregg was not, and with more undecideds that clearly signaled the race was tightening. Hillary Clinton certainly was a drag on Democrats and Trump's margin certainly helped some down ballot Republicans but at the end of the day. Gregg lost because he did not use his resources as well as he should have. If we were Indiana Democrats we would get rid of the dead weight at the top of the state party and work on winning races at the local and state legislative level. Also they need to start calling out the Republican Establishment and their many shortcomings rather than doing things like voting en mass with them to gut the State Board of Accounts! Yes they don't have enough votes now to do much but they can start to earn them by taking principled stands for good government! If they don't even complain about the RINO Establishment of Daniels-Holcomb and their shortcomings than they will not give voters any reason to vote for them. Hopefully we all have learned something valuable here. Mainly how not to fuck up a campaign!

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