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November 10, 2008

How Not to Get Re-Elected by Elizabeth Dole

So we've taken a few days to recover from the election craziness, and also to celebrate the fact that we won't have to rant about McCain/Palin for the next four years. Then we had to recover again from our post-celebration hangovers. But now we're back to work and taking a look at some of the other results from last week's election.

In North Carolina's Senate race, Democrat and Emily's List candidate Kay Hagan defeated incumbent Elizabeth Dole. I'd say this happened for a couple of reasons - first, that Kay Hagan was a strong and smart and accomplished and capable candidate, and second, that Elizabeth Dole ran a very successful campaign to not get re-elected. Below are some lessons on how to lose an election from soon-to-be-former Senator Dole.

  1. Never spend any time in your state. Four or five weeks per year at the most is plenty. (In 2006, Dole considered 13 days to be enough.) There's no need to waste a lot of time talking and interacting with the people that you are supposed to represent. After all, Dole was elected by the people of North Carolina in spite of the fact that she hadn't lived in the state since 1959. If you find yourself in a similar situation, just do what Dole did - change your residency to your mother's house even though you haven't lived at home with mom in decades, but continue to actually live with your husband in D.C.

  2. When questioned by a reporter about your apparently weak ties to the state, be sure to cite a piece of property in the state that you own and care deeply about, which was a family farm turned "beautiful" real estate development...and then promptly forget what the name of that development is.

  3. Achieve a rank of 93rd out of 100 in effectiveness in the Senate from a nonpartisan Congressional data service. No need to strain yourself trying to accomplish things.

  4. Every once in awhile, do something wacky and fun like trying to get an AIDS bill named after notorious homophobe Jesse Helms, who had opposed funding for AIDS research and was known for saying things like "there is not one single case of AIDS in this country that cannot be traced in origin to sodomy" and that people with AIDS were sick because of "deliberate, disgusting, revolting conduct...We've got to have some common sense about a disease transmitted by people deliberately engaging in unnatural acts." Just for laughs.

  5. Run ads that assume that your party's nominee for president is obviously going to lose. Good way to help everyone in your party keep the faith, and show that you're all fighting hard. And the fun bonus of this particular ad? Making the claim that before the Democrats poured a bunch of money into North Carolina to run "attack" ad against you, nobody in the state had "ever heard of Kay Hagan" because she's "a creation of the Washington power brokers". The truth is that Kay Hagan spent ten years in the North Carolina state Senate and was voted one of the state’s “Ten Most Effective Senators,” three terms in a row by the non-partisan North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research. I guess we can forgive Dole for not being aware of this, since we've already shown that actually knowing what was going on in North Carolina wasn't all that high on her priority list.

  6. If all else fails, start running an ad right before the election implying that your opponent may be "godless" and may have made a secret deal with those evil atheists, because she attended a fundraiser co-hosted by an adviser to a political action committee that promotes rights for atheists. “Godless Americans and Kay Hagan. She hid from cameras. Took godless money,” the ad's narrator says. “What did Kay Hagan promise in return?” In case that's not heavy-handed enough, end the ad with an image of Kay Hagan and a voiceover of a woman saying "there is no god!", leaving the impression that the voice is Hagan's even though it's not. This helps you to not get elected in several ways.

    • It annoys atheists, agnostics, and anyone anywhere on the political spectrum who happens to believe in the separation of church and state, and/or that atheists aren't automatically evil and sketchy and morally suspect.
    • It gives your opponent tons of free and overwhelmingly sympathetic press right before the election. Nothing like lots of stories about how you may have run one of the most negative ads of the entire campaign, and right before Election Day!
    • It gives your opponent (and the media) a chance to point out that she is a former Sunday school teacher and an elder of the Presbyterian church that her family has attended for more than 100 years. Also lets her call out your major hypocrisy in running an ad that "bears false witness against a fellow Christian".
    • Almost all of the major newspapers in your state have already endorsed your opponent, so this gives them another opportunity to emphasize how right they were.
    • It helps your opponent's fundraising efforts in the final days of the campaign by making the rounds in the blogosphere, which encourages donations, and by giving organizations like Emily's List an excuse to send a special fundraising appeal. (Emily's List members contributed more than $2.6 million to the overall effort in North Carolina.)
If you follow Elizabeth Dole's example, you too can find yourself a big fat loser on Election Night.


dangerousdaisy said...

*golf clap

Think the Repubs are seriously going to regroup and change or are they going to become an unviable third party?

Jezebel said...

I would love the "unviable third party" option, but I'm not getting my hopes up. I'm afraid they're going to build on the anti-gay ballot measures that passed in several states and refocus themselves on 'social issues'. We'll see.