Clinton, KY. 11-7-12
In my previous column on this subject, I was wrong, wrong, wrong! I misread the raw intelligence and field reports of how the Senate race was shaping up. I predicted that Democrat Carroll Hubbard would defeat his Republican opponent, Stan Humphries. I laid out the reasons Hubbard would be victorious.
In the crystal ball of political struggles, sometimes a reporter just blows it. I did just that.
I failed to understand several rivers of harsh feelings just below the surface. These include factors and reasons Hubbard lost: (1) regional dislike of President Obama (2) new blood vs. old blood and (3) negative campaign advertising.
Regional Dislike to President Obama
Voting in Calloway County hurt Hubbard especially hard. Republican Humphries received 9,066 votes to Hubbard’s 5,661. The difference was 3,405 votes or 61.5% to 38.4% of votes cast.
Presidential candidate Romney’s received totals 9438 votes in Calloway County. President Obama received a total of 5,314 votes. The difference in vote totals was 4,124 or 62.7% to 35.3%. The percentages for the winners in both races are strikingly similar.
Just as hard to take was the county by county impact of dislike for Obama. Hubbard lost every county in the District, except Fulton. In each case, there were a large number of votes against the President which set in motion a reaction to Hubbard as being the next most important Democratic candidate on the ballot.
New Blood vs. Old Blood
One Republican elected official gave his understanding of what hurt Hubbard the most, “the influx of new blood vs. old blood.” He explained that many younger voters, between 20 to 40 years of age, didn’t know Hubbard from earlier campaigns or public offices. This, in turn, made younger voters much more inclined to listen to criticisms or question facts about Hubbard’s past.
Many of these newer voters were younger families without strong bonds or direct ties to Hubbard. There is some question if some of this segment of voters might have been from conservative churches or tea party organizations.
Negative Campaign Advertising
Other Republican strategists offered the suggestion that, in addition to the Obama Effect, Hubbard went negative on TV during the last week of campaigning. This moved many voters over to Stan Humphries.
Republican Stan Humphries used a TV ad built around his theme of being a happy married family man. This ad ran 318 times on Channel 6 WPSD TV in Paducah, Kentucky. Estimated cost of the ad is over $100,000 dollars.
This strategy countered and trumped Hubbard’s strategy of using geography over family. Hubbard attacked Humphries for not being a representative of the Jackson Purchase but rather, a resident of Trigg County and therefore, a resident of the Pennyrile. It would seem by election results that family won out over geography.
While Humphries himself didn’t run negative ads against Hubbard, his party or surrogates did. One voter reported being shocked at the venom in an anti-Hubbard radio spot. To voters unfamiliar with Hubbard, the ad’s content would have been devastating.
Stan Humphries, like his friend Jamie Comer, Commissioner of Agriculture and potential Republican candidate for Governor of Kentucky, both project public images of young, intelligent, hard working new breed of Republicans.
Maybe in the final analysis, the voters wanted to make a statement about their President while seeking younger local leaders to talk to and work with.
Whether the morning after reasons are the right ones, the bottom line is that when it came to predicting the outcome of the Senate District 2 race – I blew it.