Indiana Pundit


Friday, March 31, 2006

Billboard Tutorial by FWO

FWOB has put out a tutorial on when and how to use billboards in your campaign. I recommend you read it. Here.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Yard Sign Review - Tammi McKee

I've had the most requests for this one. I have received 4 or5 images of this sign from around the city.

50 x 50 scanability. The type is too small. Never use a font that squeezes the name. The name should be as big and fat as possible for easier viewing.

Though the picture is nice it is distracting from the rest of the sign. A female or minority candidate can gain an advantage by having a photo of themself on their sign. But that is only so if they are running against someone of the opposite gender or race.

Clean. There are 22 words on this thing. Its best to keep it to around 5 or 6.

Uniqueness. Nothing really stands out as unique.

Color. Many campaigns will follow the patriotic red-white-blue theme. The problem is that those signs have problems standing out from each other. There is not enough contrast between Red type and a blue background.

Overall there is too much stuff and not enough contrast.


Guidelines for Yardsigns

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Yard Sign for Robert Enders

First up is Robert Enders. He is a candidate for the Indiana House 80th District. He is also the author of a local blog blog of the Enders.

50 x 50 scanability. It is readable at 50 x 50 though the crossword idea requires extra repetition to the reader to be effective.

Clean. The crossword acts as a minor distraction from the last name.

Uniqueness. The crossword is creative.

Color. Color choice has plenty of contrast. The only other campaign to use this color selection is the Souder camp.

Extra Word of Advice. Make sure your website is up and running before publicizing it.


Guidelines for Yardsigns

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Judging Yard Signs

We see them everywhere the closer we get to election day. But what makes a yard sign an effective tool? The audience needs to clearly read the last name of the candidate and pick it out from the rest of the yard signs and street corner clutter.

Here are guidelines for designing effective yard signs.

50 x 50 scanability. Most people see your yard signs as they drive by. Therefore your sign must be readable at 50 feet at 50 mph.

Clean. The last name is the most important aspect of the sign (unless there is another candidate of the same last name, then you need the first name too). Long slogans, graphics, and photos can often cause clutter that takes away from the emphasis of the last name. They also affect the 50 x 50 scanability. All to often candidates put too much information on their yard signs. Less is more.

Uniqueness. There is a limit to what you can do to make your signs stand out. Therefore anything you do to make that happen is a plus.

Color. Choice and contrast of colors affect the appeal to viewers as well as scanability and uniqueness.

Between now and the election I will be doing critiques of yard signs found around Allen County. As it is impractical for me to go out and find every sign in the county I am asking viewers to e-mail me gif or jpg files of their favorite/ least favorite yard signs. Email submissions to Please get as close as you can so I can see the details. All submissions will remain anonymous.

Thanks to all those who have already sent me graphics of yard signs prompting me to do this critique.

Bus Shack Political Advertisements

Today I saw a bus shack political ad. It is a campaign tool that is so ineffective that I had forgotten about it until I saw one for Paula Hughes, County Council District 2.

I dislike bus shack ads worse than I do billboards. At least billboards are big enough to catch your attention and are often lit at night. Bus shack ads are small and unreadable at night. For the money a campaign shells out for them they could have printed handouts or mailers to be put directly in the voter's hand.

Those who would be impacted most by a bus shack ad are lower income inner city people who use public transportation. That demographic has a low voter turnout rate. Those that do turnout go Democrat by a strong margin. Outside of that demographic it has no use as it blends into the surroundings and hasn't got a captive audience.

It has minimal value for an urban Democratic candidate but no value for a Republican candidate in a county-wide race.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Where's Bill Brown?

Its great that he is taking my advice to rework his website. But the rework should be done off-line and then uploaded when complete. His site tells you that it is under construction and will be relaunched soon.

Its not a good to have your web presence inturrupted in a contested race. The brevity of a primary causes any interuption to be magnified. I don't know how many days its been down but its been since at least Sunday.

Its Debatable

In Sunday's Journal Gazette, Nikki Kelly and Ben Lanka wrote about the commissioner's actions in dodging debates with their opponents.

Whether they are dodging a debate doesn't matter. What matters is the perception that they are dodging a debate.

incumbents aren't thrilled to enter debates with their opponents for several reasons. For one, it puts them in a situation in which they can't control. Scary things can happen to campaigns that are faced with something they weren't expecting. Secondly, by agreeing to a debate they automatically lend a degree of legitimacy to their opponent that they didn't otherwise possess.

However, if public perception is strong that they are avoiding a debate it can hurt an incumbent. It gives the perception of weakness, that the incumbent is afraid of something that their opponent brings to the table. It also gives almost as much credibility, by default, to their opponent as would have had they lost the debate.

The only way to alleviate such perception is to debate their opponent.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Timing Aspect to Name ID Tools

Timing is everything.

When you put out a billboard, yard sign, or other kind of name ID tool you have to maximize exposure without while minimizing negatives that arise from the tool itself.

Marla put her billboards up early. Had she left them up it would have raised her negatives (they are now starting to disappear around the county). This is not due to content or presentation but because voters tend to get sick of political ads the longer they are out.

An ad that overstays its visibility causes collateral damage to activities that follow it. It increases the negatives for the candidate.

When planning an activity to raise name recognition a campaign needs to plan from election day and go backward. The effectiveness of all campaign activities should peak around that time. If you put an ad out too early the negatives it creates are rising at the time when voters go to the polls.

Zone A. The name ID device is put out too late.
Zone B. This is where you need to be on election day.
Zone C. It came out too early.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Pitfalls of Name ID

Name Id does have its downfalls. When name Id is near perfect there are few voters who have no opinion of that candidate.

Take Hillary Clinton for example. She has been in front of the media continuously for over 15 years. Her name ID is in the nineties. In a recent survey 40% surveyed find her favorable and 43% find her unfavorable (details).

This means that about half of independent voters have made an opinion about her (About 1/3 of voters are considered independents ((Total favorable and unfavorable)-(GOP and DEM Base))/(Independent Voters).

Should she run for President (duh) she needs to convince 62% of undecided voters to gain the popular vote. (Things are worse considering the base distribution and the electoral college but thats for a different post).

Basically, if the name Id gets too high it provides little room for a candidate to improve their position. Should that position be below 50% then its almost impossible for a candidate to win.

Name Identification Basics

In the past month I've been heard complaining about this campaign and that's efforts in name ID. Now I've been challenged to give a basic primer in creating name ID. I will cover this in a few posts this week.

Political campaigns are controlled events. There are rules to it (though some are fluid). It is a game not unlike chess where opponents are trying to out-manuever each other. Name ID is a piece in this game.

It is a powerful piece because if voters know nothing else about the office in question they will vote for the name they recognize. This is why incumbants have an advantage at the polls.

How to create name ID

  1. Meet voters. Voters are more likely to vote for a candidate they've met
  2. Advertise. Billboards, commercials, mailings, and yards signs
  3. Word of mouth. Public opinion rules the day.
  4. Media. Hotly contested races will get air time

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Republicans Vulnerable to Losing House Majority

Mary Beth Schneider of the Indy Star made a keen observation about the possibility of the GOP to lose the majority over the Major Moves Project. Article

"The votes lawmakers cast this session won't just affect their constituents. They may make a difference in who gets elected this November, and which party controls the House next year.

Bosma, in his second year as speaker, acknowledged Wednesday that the 51 Republican votes needed to pass Major Moves may move the GOP out of the majority in the 100-seat House.
House Republicans, he said, addressed the issues "despite the fact that it may result in our not coming back here to serve in the future. That's courage."

He accused Democrats -- who uniformly opposed Major Moves in the House -- of appealing to people's "basest interests so they would be afraid of foreigners, people with Australian accents, coming here to Indiana."

Bauer, though, said the public understood the Major Moves deal and didn't like it.

Democrats, he said, will run this fall on a key theme: 'We listened.' "

Local Representative Randy Borror was the sponsor of the bill. But it is highly unlikely that any of the state Representatives in Allen County will be hurt or able to take advantage of the bill in November. Allen County is too far removed from the issues of concern such as toll hikes and changing of trucker traffic patterns.

For those who don't know, the toll road goes through some of northern Indiana's swing districts in the house. With the House majority at a slim margin it would only take a handful for the Democrats to take control of the Gerneral Assembly in 2007.

Note: Fort Wayne Insight has a poll on whether Major Moves was good or bad. Here

First Campaign Commercial Hits T.V.Land

Its official. The first television spot hit the airways. Ken Fries, GOP sheriff candidate, had a 15 second spot on channel 15 . The rest of the candidates will soon follow provided they have the funds to do so.

Most will complain that he went to the airways way too early. I think that is an exaggeration. It takes about six weeks for a television spot to sink in to the majority of voters. We are just a few days outside that time frame now. Fries will get an advantage by being the first to the airways. His message is not lost in the clutter of other campaign ads that will follow.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

My Take on the HPR interview with Graham Richard

FWO linked to this HPR interview with mayor Graham Richard. I cut it down to just a few points. I'll hit the broadband issue at a later time. My comments are in red.

HPR: Are you looking at a re-elect in 2007?

Richard: Too early to tell. Probably make a decision by September. Still raising funds. Richard is waiting to see how the Bayh Presidential campaign progresses. If it looks to be in good shape he will jump on board with hopes of a cabinet position in the Bayh Administration.

HPR: Have you talked with Paul Helmke.

Richard: Only casually. My guess is if I don’t run, he’ll definitely be in and if I do run he may be in as well. There was a lot of fanfare about his survey, but he’s not telling anybody what he found out. Probably because it says he's vulnerable in Republican areas of the city such as Aboite, St Joe, and Pine Valley. I wonder why that is? I can tell you that Win Moses polled his district and we look very good. Sounds like they both fear Matt Kelty running against them.

HPR: How about Richard for governor?

Richard: No. He's not about to make a mistake like Helmke's It’s either another term as mayor or go help Evan (Bayh) run for president. See my first comment

HPR: I watch the House Democrats and they’ve been opposed to Major Moves, the inspector general. I’ve been asking, well what is it that you guys are for? I see the innovation in the Indiana Democratic Party coming from the mayors.

Richard: I strongly support enabling legislation that would allow more consolidation. Quietly and behind the scenes, my whole approach has been to take program by program and work for merger and collaboration. Consolidation with business practices. If you look at Louisville, they brought in some really talented people who have business background to help them manage the way you fold together the city and county operations. He's re-using talking points from an Indy Works study on consolidation. The the results of that study are in question as other studies contradict it. That is the way you drive change and rethink your practices. After annexation, we went from 850 to 1,200 miles of streets and roads and the number of non-public safety employees has gone down by almost 30 percent. That’s how you keep the costs of government down. Costs? Yes. Quality of service? No.

HPR: I was amazed to see the Fort Wayne City Council and the Allen County Councils vote 15-0 to pass consolidation. I was not surprised

Richard: The problem in Indiana is the county commissioners. Every county is different. What are you going to do in Mishawaka and South Bend? What are you going to do in Lake County? The problem is that the needs of people living in the county and needs of people living in a city are different. Unigov is receiving resistance because it is perceived as not taking care of the needs of both.There is an opportunity for innovation in the local government structure. Why is it that we can’t have, as 60 percent of the cities in the country our size have, non-partisan elections? Why shouldn’t that be a local decision? It might make a fundamental difference what happens in Lake County or our county. Richard has figured out that the (D) label won't win most elections. I don't remember him making this argument when the Democrats were in control.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Unigov Poll Results

95 people responded to the poll over a 2 week period.

For UniGov 28 (29.5%)

For merging of emergency services only 10 (10.5%)

Against UniGov 54 (56.8%)

undecided 3 (3.2%)

Monday, March 13, 2006

Marla Reaches for Union Voters

Democratic candidates have often used references to labor unions in their speeches and literature since the two have historically had strong ties. You don't make the same connection with labor unions and Republican candidates.

Though the labor unions officially will go Democrat, their members will often go with the candidate if they feel that that candidate supports the union. Party membership is less of a factor in the decision.

In Marla Irving's latest mailing she is seen at the podium proudly displaying the UAW logo. It was obvious attempt at getting the union vote. But she missed something. When trying to get the union vote its best to have your flyers printed in a union shop with a union bug on it. Marla didn't do that.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Commissioner's Town Hall Meetings

Fort Wayne Indiana Etc has a post on the commissioner's town hall meetings (Link). It includes the schedules for the meetings to be held in Hoagland, Aboite, and Grabill.

I expect there will be large crowds at those venues. The commissioners had better be ready for the county-wide consolidation questions.

I think those representatives who are pushing the Unigov issue need to be there as well. The Journal Gazette reported on Sunday that they haven't answered the concerns of the residents outside of Fort Wayne. I tend to agree with the paper (I know its scandalous). I also don't think any of them have the guts to show up after the David Long incident in Grabill.

Personal Debt a Major Issue in Indiana

Indiana ranks 3rd in the nation on personal debt in a recent SurveyUSA poll. 42% said they were in debt, 35% claimed to be even, and 19% thought they were coming out ahead when it came to personal finance. This is actually an improvement. Last May Indiana led the nation in personal debt with 47%.

Personal debt levels have an inverse relationship to the economic health of an area. The higher the debt level the more likely the populace to experience unemployment, underemployment, rises in cost of living, etc.

So what does this have to do with politics? Its the economy stupid!

I've seen few local candidates talk about jobs recently. Representative Randy Borror talked about the contentious "Major Moves" project and its ability to bring jobs to Indiana. He failed to explain how to the public how that would happen.

Mayor Graham Richards talks about firms that come to the area hiring a couple hundred here and there while ignoring the exodus of larger firms like Waterfield Mortgage.

Every candidate says its at the top of their agenda. Few prove it. Press the candidates on how they plan to improve our economy.

This is a public service announcement by Indiana Pundit. Don't drive or operate heavy machinery for at least 2 hours after viewing.

Souder's Stance on the Patriot Act

Congressman Souder's office sent this press release today.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Rep. Mark Souder voted today for House passage of S. 2271, the USA PATRIOT Act Additional Reauthorizing Amendments Act of 2006, legislation that will add further civil liberty protections to the PATRIOT Act by addressing Section 215 orders, National Security Letters, and adding clarification that libraries functioning in their traditional capacity, including providing basic Internet access, are not subject to National Security Letters. The bill passed the House by a bipartisan majority of 280-138.

"As much as anything, the Patriot Act reflects a change in our national mentality resulting from the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and it has been the most important tool for our law enforcement, intelligence and defense communities," said Souder, a senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee. "It was absolutely essential that Congress renewed the law following a proper review. Together with the additional amendments that we passed today, this legislation goes a long way toward fighting terrorism while ensuring our civil liberties."

Last week, the Senate passed the conference report to the USA PATRIOT and Terrorism Prevention Reauthorization Act (H.R. 3199), which the House had passed in December. President Bush is expected to sign the conference report into law on Thursday.

The conference report to H.R. 3199 will:

permanently eliminate barriers that had prevented information sharing and better coordination between law enforcement and the intelligence community;
update the law to reflect new technologies and new threats;
enhance penalties for those who commit acts of terrorism and those who harbor terrorists;
strengthen efforts to combat terrorism at America's seaports;
increase penalties for attacks against railroad and mass transit;
make certain air piracy crimes subject to the death penalty;
strengthen efforts to combat terrorism financing;
make permanent 14 of the 16 expiring PATRIOT Act provisions; and
fight the scourge of methamphetamine labs and abuse across the country by enacting the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act, much of which Souder authored.

Under the bill (S. 2271) passed by the House today:

Recipients of Section 215 orders (a subpoena granted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court to obtain sensitive information on individuals such as library, medical, education or gun-related records) will have the explicit right to challenge the non-disclosure requirement ("gag order") order that accompanies a 215 order.
A provision that requires an individual to provide the FBI with the name of an attorney consulted regarding a National Security Letter will be removed. National Security Letters are administratively-issued (that is, not issued by a judge) subpoenas used to gain targeted financial and electronic records.
Current law will be clarified to ensure that libraries functioning in their traditional roles, including providing Internet access, are not subject to National Security Letters.

S. 2271 will now be sent to the President

The biggest part for Souder in this biil is the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act. It show voters that he has taken the lead nationally on an issue. Its also an issue that his opponents can only argue against minute points within it rather than the Act as a whole.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Link Found to Poll

First, I want to give a hat tip to Tracy Warner at the Journal Gazette for providing the link to the poll.

After seeing the poll it probably is valid. Here is how the Indy Star said the poll was conducted.
"The poll is based on telephone interviews with 501 Indiana residents age 18 and older. Interviewers contacted households using randomly selected telephone numbers. The sample was drawn in such a way that every household equipped with a land-line telephone had an equal chance of being contacted. The poll was adjusted by age and race to reflect Indiana's population age 18 and older."

The only concern I have about this poll is the lack of sample distribution information. It sounds like a ramdomized dialing system was used so they may not have the collected that data.

If the poll took a disproportional sample from any given area it would skew they numbers. Many campaigns use polls in this way as a tool to get people who vote via peer pressure. This is why I say don't trust any poll unless you can see how it works.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Governor's Popularity Slipping

Though I can't verify the poll cited by the Journal Gazette I do agree with its outcome. It states that Governor Daniels' approval rating is down to 37%.

Voters don't feel that his administration is listening to them when they push through their agenda (kinda reminds me of a few of our local politicians as well). They feel they have been locked out of the decision making process.

Both the BMV closings and the toll road project are taking their toll on his popularity. Voters applaud the effort towards fiscal responsibility, which has been missing from our state for some time. But they will vote on how these projects affect their daily lives.

The fear of more trucks going through towns like Angola and 4 hour BMV waits will not get him re-elected. Luckily for the governor her has 3 more years to fix those problems.

Journal Gazette Does Bad Job of

All my readers know what I think about our local newspaper coverage. Yesterday they cited a poll done by the Indy Star regarding Governor Daniel's approval rating.

I checked the Star's website to confirm the poll and have yet been unable to do so. I also googled the company, Selzer & Co, who did the poll. They do not have a web presence to verify they did a poll on the governor. So is this poll bogus, a citing of an obscure poll, or just poor citing of sources?

My point here is if our paper is going to report on a poll they need to give readers the opportunity to verify that poll's claims. Neither the Indianapolis Star nor the Journal Gazzette did so.

News media organizations have been hurting for credibility for a while now. Something as simple as making your sources available to the public in these types of stories would help that problem.

Oops, Kevin Did it Again

Everybody has covered Kevin Knuth's latest campaign finance inquiry. I am not going to pass judgement on it at this time. But there may be unexpected consequences to this complaint.

WOWO will react to this in some way. They will either A. not do political advertising, or B. Make life difficult for Kevin in some way.

But Kevin's bigger problems will be with the PAC Northeast Indiana Political Action Committee for Better Government. Its list of donors reads like a who's who in local political giving. It is comprised of mostly Republicans but has Democrats and Libertarians contributing to it as well.

This is where Kevin will see the most problems. This PAC raises about $200,000 a year. It doesn't take a genius to figure out Kevin's party will get more attention from this group and its members. When all's said and done he may have given local Republicans a banner year for campaign contributions.

Friday, March 03, 2006

How You say It is as Important as What You Say

What you say is as important as how you say it. Words give a hint of emotion not necessarily intended to be revealed. It can cause subtle changes in how voters feel towards a candidate.

For an example, The Journal Gazzette's story on the state senates passing of bill 1362. Senator Tom Wyss was quoted in the article.

"But Sen. Tom Wyss, R-Fort Wayne, said any consolidation will be difficult in Allen County 'until certain politicians stop behind-the-scenes maneuvering against it while telling people they are for it.”

This statement sounds bitter at people who have an opposing viewpoint to his. Candidates can hurt themselves just as much by saying something badly as they can saying bad things.

Wyss Bitter Towards Consolidation Opposition

The Journal Gazzette had a story this morning on the state senates passing of bill 1362. It didn't get interesting until they quoted Tom Wyss. story

"But Sen. Tom Wyss, R-For Wayne, said any consolidation will be difficult in Allen County 'until certain politicians stop behind-the-scenes maneuvering against it while telling people they are for it.”

Senator Wyss needs to choose his words more wisely. This statement sounds bitter at people who have an opposing viewpoint to his. His opponents of the measure feel that Senators Wyss and Long were using tactics to manuever the issue forward.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Brown Follows Irving's Lead

In case you haven't noticed, Bill Brown now has billboards. I've even seen them next to those of Marla. Its obvious nobody from his campaign reads my posts.

Now I've already given my views on the why using billboards as a main campaign tool is a bad campaign tactic in the Marla's Billboards piece. This goes beyond that to a more fundamental rule in campaigning.

A challenger should never mimic the tactics of his/ her opponent. It gives the impression that that the challenger lacks leadership and independent thinking.

On a sidenote, when I see a candidate use billboards before using other more efficient media I see somebody who doesn't look to get the best value out of the money they spend. This is important to me when I entrust such individuals with my tax money.

Primary Predictions

These are my predictions for the primary. I reserved the right to change my mind if a campaign does something to warrant a change.

GOP Primary

Brown vs Irving:This will be the most highly contested of the races in the GOP primary. It is also my greatest chance of being wrong. Both candidates have high negatives with the public. Marla barely squeeks by.

Bloom vs Buskirk: There aren't enough negatives on Linda for Roy to beat her. Had he been against Marla he would have won. Bloom by 7%.

Miller vs Warner: This race has gone under the radar so far. I haven't seen anything that tells me Call won't win. Miller wins.

Foster, Fries, Griffith, Keesler: Fries has been more visible in the last year than the other GOP candidates. He also has the money. Fries by a landslide.

Souder vs Larsen: Souder hasn't done anything to change the results of the last few primaries. Souder in a landslide.

Pence vs Holland: No contest really. Pence in a landslide.

Pond vs Worman: Worman's only chance to win is with his name. His last campaign proved that wasn't enough. Pond wins.

DEM Primary

Boyd vs Hayhurst: Hayhurst is a popular Democrat in the bluest part of the district. Hayhurst wins big.

Joyner vs Taviano: Joyner's visibility will trump Taviano's grassroots efforts. Joyner wins.

GiaQuinta vs Paddock: His father's legacy and name recognition beats Paddock. Giaquinta wins.

If I am missing a CONTESTED local primary let me know.

Advice for Campaigners and Candidates

Campaigns often consume the blood, sweat, and tears of their participants. The amount of energy and excitement make them sometimes addictive.

Sometimes we get so caught up in winning the race that we forget what makes it all worth the effort. All too often winning and ambition become the focus.

Winning campaigns is only the beginning. After victory one must govern. This is what we so easily forget when we try to win elections. It is what matters most to those who elect us to serve.

"In the great enterprise of making democracy workable we are all partners." (Charles Evans Hughes)



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