If you look at the toplines of the Marquette Poll from a couple of weeks ago, here’s the story they tell.
Attorney General’s race, Sept 2018 MU Poll, likely voters
Favorability of AG candidate
Don’t Know 12%
Haven’t Heard Enough 44%
Don’t Know 18%
Haven’t heard enough 69%
From those figures, it seems pretty obvious that Schimel’s “lead” is a function of having twice as many people have an opinion on who he is than Kaul (56% vs 30%). And the upside for Kaul would seem to be much higher than Schimel, based on these three issue questions in the poll.
Bigger priority- Protection of environment vs economic growth?
Economic growth 26%
Both should be equal 11%
Should abortion be legal?
Legal in all or most cases 62%
Illegal in all or most cases 32%
What should be done with the ACA/Obamacare?
Keep as/is or improve 59%
Repeal and replace 26%
Repeal and not replace 10%
In all three of those cases, Kaul’s opinion matches up with what the majority of Wisconsinites want. By comparison, Attorney General Schimel has told the DNR to allow CAFOs to take as much water as they want and pollute at will, has used tax dollars to defend Wisconsin’s unconstitutional abortion limitations, and has sued to abolish the ACA.
You wonder why Schimel was trying to insulate people in the GOP Bubble last week from what will be said about his horrendous record? Because if Kaul actually lets people know how far out of step Schimel is from the Wisconsin mainstream, and how much more Kaul matches what they believe in, not only would Kaul be likely to grab most of the 11% undecided, but also much of Schimel’s soft support who is only backing the current AG on name recognition.
Hi, do you know me?
That Marquette Poll also indicates to me that the Kaul campaign and the Democratic Party of Wisconsin are missing a great chance to make up ground and firm up support for November. Kaul’s campaign has chosen to do a lot of meet-and-greets and co-appearances with other Dem candidates (here’s an example from a Racine County event over the weekend). But door-knocking and talking to people who already know and support you only works in two situations.
1. Where both candidates are running for local office, aren’t well known, and deal with issues very specific to a neighborhood.
2. Where the candidates are both very well known, running for a statewide/federal race, and you want a presence in certain areas and/or the community is densely populated where lots of people move in and move out.
Neither of these cases apply to the AG’s race as we stand today, so Kaul’s challenge is to let the average person who doesn’t follow politics know who you are, and who the other guy really is. That means TV ads, whether you like that fact or not, because if nothing else, TV ads make media talk about the ads, which is an easy way to get free publicity and raises the profile of the race for the average lower-info (often non-partisan) voter.
Schimel has been following this strategy with cynical photo ops where he hands out millions in tax dollars for “school safety” and “mental health”. He’s held numerous free media events over the course of several weeks promoting this one-time payout, and an extra “tell” that it’s a campaign stunt is that the Republican Attorney General’s Association is now running ads on this.
Kaul and the Dems should be reminding voters that Schimel has been the rare AG that has refused to sue the opiod manufacturers even as opiod-related hospital visits and overdoses skyrocket in the state. But instead they are too often ceding the stage to the cynical, crooked Schimel, and make it seem like he actually cares about something other than campaign donations.
It’s not like the Kaul campaign doesn’t have the money, Kaul outraised Schimel again for August, and basically has the same amount of cash that Schimel has, despite having a much shorter time to raise it. You gonna do something with that $917,000 in the bank, Josh? You’re a very good candidate who has defended voting rights and stood up for the right people vs corporations. Why don’t you let some people know about it?
And I have concerns that time is getting a bit short for Kaul to define himself and redefine Schimel. Sure, there are still 6 weeks left in an Attorney General’s race where 2/5 of the electorate don’t know either candidate, which makes it much easier to make up ground if you do it right. But October comes next week, and soon after, average dopes will have their brains scrambled from so many ads that they won’t want to watch any ads or information you put up.
The time to strike is NOW, and cement opinions in people’s minds before they stop caring and retreat into their safe cocoons of ignorance and “voting with the gut.”