The Oracle Speaks
Politics & Media Mashup
I worked on a campaign with local pollster John Nienstedt a couple years ago and after he explained in a group email – a few days before the election – that we were going to win someone sent a reply all message that said: “The Oracle has spoken.”
I thought of that Friday at a luncheon as I listened to Nienstedt break down Tuesday’s election.
The owner of Competitive Edge Research & Commuication, Nienstedt worked for Proposition A, Proposition B, Carl DeMaio, Scott Sherman, Ray Ellis and others this cycle. His polling included a 30-day nightly tracking analysis leading up to Election Day, a level of sophistication rarely seen in local races. He knew just about everything before everyone else.
Rostra is asking John to share his analysis and thoughts and hopes he accepts the offer. Until then, here are a few of the highlights I took away from listening to him Friday:
- Proposition A, the fair and open competition initiative, never trailed but it was tighter at times than the final margin (58 percent of the vote).
- Proposition B, the pension reform measure, always polled well with most voters, including independents.
- DeMaio had a big block of voters – conservatives – behind him. Bob Filner, who finished second to DeMaio in the primary, had a big block of voters – liberals – behind him. Nathan Fletcher, who finished third, was well liked but never developed a base and instead drew votes from across the spectrum. You can win that way, but you need to be very popular.
- Fletcher actually polled better in the weeks leading up to the election than he did toward the end of the race. In the final days, the independents Fletcher needed to win broke for DeMaio.
- DeMaio repeatedly attacked Fletcher for the Assemblyman’s missed votes in Sacramento because polling showed that message played well with voters.
- Bonnie Dumanis, who finished fourth in the mayor’s race, didn’t sink Fletcher. If she had pulled out of the race her voters would have been pretty evenly divided among DeMaio, Filner and Fletcher.
- Ray Ellis started his campaign against City Councilwoman Sherri Lightner with no name ID and ended up with more votes than she did on Tuesday.
- Nienstedt expects a close and competitive race between DeMaio and Filner in November, but he thinks DeMaio will prevail. It’s not just his gut telling him that. Polling shows San Diegans lean more toward DeMaio and his positions than to Filner and his positions.
For me, most of the election results came in the way I thought they would. Scott Sherman beating Mat Kostrinsky with a majority of the vote (assuming that holds after all the votes are counted) to avoid a November election was the biggest surprise. I had heard the polls showed Sherman with 51 percent. But I saw Kostrinsky, labor’s choice, hustling. He walked neighborhoods and had mail in my mailbox just about every day for weeks.
Lightner’s husband thinks labor, which has never seemed to be on good terms with the Democratic incumbent, sunk its own ship.
“Attacking Sherri with FOUR negative mailers was STUPID! <250 votes needed to stop Scott Sherman. You doomed Mat K in D7. Sad!” Bruce Lightner tweeted Thursday to labor’s Evan McLaughlin.
A couple final thoughts on the mayor’s race…Los Angeles may have the Fashion Police but San Diego has the Pension & Pothole Police.
At its core, DeMaio’s message is that simple. Filner’s is just as simple. He fashions himself as an advocate for workers. Fletcher never crafted a message beyond his distaste for party politics and gridlock and his willingness to work with everyone, which appears to have been too general in scope.
DeMaio has been out front on pensions and potholes for a while. He sees issues that will play well with taxpayers long before his opponents do, and he understands how to cut through the clutter and connect with busy and uninterested voters.
This will be my last Mashup for a while. I’m taking a post-election break.
Before I sign off, I need to give a shout out to one of my best clients – The Lincoln Club of San Diego County.
The Club was one of Tuesday’s biggest winners. It led the Prop. B campaign and campaigned for Prop. A, Sherman, Ellis and numerous other winners across San Diego County.
The Club started this election cycle as hosts of the first mayoral debate and ended it as hosts of San Diego’s best election night party. If you weren’t at the Palm Court at the US Grant for the Club’s election night reception you missed out. We sort of hijacked election night from Golden Hall.
We set up a live feed for the web and several news stations went live from the party. There were major press announcements from numerous winning campaigns and the room was packed with politicians, consultants, board members from local organizations, business professionals and journalists.
Check out the Club’s Facebook page to see photos from the reception as well as victory speeches from Sherman, Ellis, Mark Kersey, DeMaio and Prop. A & B supporters.
Nienstedt was at the Club’s party. He seemed relaxed. Now I know why.