If the pictures over at Michigan Messenger are to be believed, it’s over. But what does this mean for local contests?
Well for one, there’s a fair amount of grief, even denial. Like Saul Anuzis said,
“This move leaves a tremendous hole in our ground campaign that we must now fill…I won’t sugar coat it; the McCain Campaign’s decision to pull out of Michigan is a tough blow. But we cannot let it deter us.”
Strategically we can see some immediate impact
The ground game goes local.
Without a strong national race, this means that recruitment for GOP activities will devolve back to the local party structures. If they have them. Where there are no active races (e.g. SH-72, where Justin Amash won the primary), responsibility would fall to the county party, with its necessary limits of time, budget and volunteers.
For local state house races, this move puts more pressure on the individual campaign. Jim Blanchard correctly notes, loyalists don’t switch, they stay home.
Negativity goes up.
Without institutional support from the national campaign, local parties will miss one of the key motivators for turnout — all the more, given the sleepy senate race. (Could Hoogendyke be more invisible?) So the plea to vote becomes more an anti-Obama vote than a positive one — any marketer will tell you that: fear and uncertainty sell. This downside of this approach is that such a negative strategy for generating interest only further corrupts the branding of the Republicans
But what about the competitive seats?.
They have to do more on their own.
For Dan Tietema (SH-75), it means that the road gets a little steeper. “Well just have to work harder,” he said. Approximately 3800 voters lie out there who would come in and vote R, who voted in 2004 but not in 2006. This is group that will stay home. And without a strong candidate on the top, they are simply less likely to come out. For the district, this means that imbalance in base vote is likely to grow, even in 2004, the R base vote lagged the Dems by 1500. In 2008 Dan starts in a hole that’s getting deeper.
The negative campaigning sank Tim Doyle in the last election. Negative national advertising from 527s is unlikely to improve Republican standing on the east side of Grand Rapids.
For Tom Pearce (SH-73), things get worse. There, the Republican deficit between 2004 and 21006 is 6,000 votes, basically the anticipated margin of victory. Some will come out for the fear, but how many? Pearce is already lagging in terms of campaign finance and operations, the missing national campaign only puts him deeper in a hole. Realistically, there may be some movement here in the final two weeks, especially if the Kent County GOP believes that they are under threat. Now is the time for Bruce Hawley to strike and take advantage of a Republican Party drained of energy.