Today I want to talk about the red wave. You know, the one that didn’t happen.
I have felt like a lone voice all year. For months I’ve been saying the red wave won’t happen. Today we see a lot of pundits giving reasons why. It was abortion or Donald Trump or some other surface level issue. All of those things may have contributed a little bit. I’m not saying they didn’t although I do think it’s complete horseshit to blame Donald Trump. The truth is none of those things mattered in the end because we so royally screwed up the fundamentals.
Money is the foundation of every political campaign just like it’s the foundation of every corporate marketing campaign. It’s all about getting a message to the right audience with a high frequency. The only way to do that is with money and the only way to get money is fundraising. As Austin Chambers said in our first episode of The Cost of Winning podcast, “You have to make the main thing the main thing.” In political campaigns, the main thing is money.
Months ago I realized the low dollar fundraising machine for Democrats was firing on all cylinders while that of the Republicans was stuck in first gear. Since then the gap got wider and wider to the point that Senate candidates were getting outspent 3 to 1. Message is irrelevant in that case. A campaign cannot typically survive that imbalance.
That’s when my team and I released a Playbook warning that the “Red Wave” was not the lock the media made it out to be. Check out this excerpt from the Playbook that we shared 100 days before Election Day.
We’re releasing this playbook because we want conservative candidates to succeed. The prevailing narrative is that victory is inevitable, but between underperformance in fundraising, a highly-regulated advertising market, and voter fatigue, we’re issuing a warning:
A campaign should not rest easy just because the big networks and big agencies are calling this a lock.
Which brings me to my point. A winner must focus on the fundamentals. They can’t get sidetracked by the national narrative or the most recent controversy. They have to keep all focus on the fundamentals. Without them they will lose. And that’s what happened. If you’d like a deeper explanation of what happened to the “Red Wave”, you can still get a copy of the Playbook here.
How do we fix the problem plaguing the GOP? Well, that’s a topic for a different post.