Sunday, November 9, 2014
Time for a Post Mortem on KY House
Bill Stone's comments to Joe Gerth in today's C-J were spot on: the election results in the Kentucky House were not acceptable, and we need to determine what went wrong. (Apologies: the story is not linking for some reason. It appears in the Sunday C-J)
Money was not the problem. Three Super PACs focused on Republicans flipping the Kentucky House. There has never been more money directed to that goal.
The political environment was not the problem. The Republican wave Tuesday night swept in GOP candidates at all levels of government. We didn't just reelect Mitch McConnell and win the U.S. Senate. As Gerth points out, Kentucky is now the only state in the South where Democrats still control a legislature. Even West Virginia has left us behind. Compare that to the nine (count 'em, 9) Democratic state legislative bodies that flipped to Republicans this week.
Getting out the vote was not the problem. Thanks to McConnell running a presidential-caliber campaign, Republicans finally used technology effectively to identify and target supporters.
So what on earth went wrong?
My hunch is that Republicans did a poor job recruiting candidates and training and supporting those once recruited. There may be other factors, as well.
On the one hand, the Kentucky Republican Party deserves huge props for its awesome mailer -- the hologram that morphed Obama into Grimes, with "Hope" being replaced with "Nope." This is the first and only mailer that my kids thought so cool that they actually saved it. This mailer was so effective that it cut through all the clutter in the last days of the campaign. It was like an exclamation point on the election. So well done to whoever conceived and executed that mailer. If only some of that creativity had been directed at the House races.
Further, candidate recruitment and training also falls within the province of the state party and the Republican leadership in the House. I echo what Bill said: I am not calling for heads to role.
I am calling for a serious and searching discussion of what went wrong so that we can fix it. Part of leadership is having the humility to admit to making a mistake. This is not about pointing fingers but rather finding answers.