Harrington’s campaign against Wasserman Schultz fleeced small donors

Rank-and-file Republicans from all over the country wanted to get rid of Debbie Wasserman Schultz so badly, they were ripe for manipulation. And manipulated they were.

The Karen Harrington campaign released the results of an Oct. 1-2 poll that reportedly showed Harrington only 4.5 percentage points behind Wasserman Schultz. It was breathlessly headlined, “Karen Harrington Releases Poll Results, Wasserman Schultz In Jeopardy of Losing.”

Thirty-three days after the poll’s release, Harrington received just 36 percent of the vote, getting crushed by Wasserman Schultz’s 63 percent total. That’s a 27-point loss. A laugher for the Democrats. Custer at Little Big Horn. A massacre.

It’s not like there was some cataclysmic event between Oct. 2 and Nov. 6 that caused Harrington’s support to collapse.  Harrington – who did not return my calls for comment – was not caught on video kicking a puppy or burning the American flag. The ensuing campaign was largely uneventful and predictable. Harrington ran as a conservative, and Wasserman Schultz ran as herself. The incumbent probably spent more time working for other candidates and performing her duties as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee than she did running against Harrington.

So what happened?

Basic math, that’s what.

This isn’t a case of a slightly inaccurate turnout model ala Rasmussen or Gallup, where a miscalculation of a few points meant an inaccurate overall prediction.

Only 25 percent of the voters in U.S. House District 23 are Republicans. Democrats account for 47 percent and independents 28 percent.

Harrington and her supporters often said that Republicans and independents together outnumbered Democrats, as if that was some sort of profound insight outlining a clear path to victory. But to anyone with experience in politics, it was a meaningless and deceptive observation.

Most independents are not truly independent voters. They strongly lean either Democratic or Republican and tend to reflect the partisan makeup of the district in which they live. Persuadable independents actually account for a small but important percentage of the vote.

This is not some secret gleaned from illegally wiretapping the backrooms of Chicago or by stealing Karl Rove’s cellphone. It’s Politics 101.

Lady Gaga had a better chance of becoming pope than Harrington had of beating Wasserman Schultz. That didn’t mean it wasn’t worthwhile to try to tie down the DNC chair by making her defend her turf, because it was. Harrington mounted as vigorous a challenge as any Republican could have, given the overwhelming partisan advantage enjoyed by the Democrats in that district.

But the end does not always justify the means.

The poll released by Harrington was not credible to major Republican donors or experienced politicos.

As one local blogger with close ties to the Republican challenger wrote at the time, “Harrington is turning these results into a money bomb of sorts, so supporters are encourage [sic] to visit the campaign website and contribute.”

Money bombs from both parties go out by email to large lists of true believers all over the country. They’re designed for the small donor, often from a different state – the working-class donor who wants to do his or her part to help the cause and who can only afford to donate 25 or 50 bucks.

Maybe the working people who donated to Harrington knew the race was unwinnable and gave money to her anyway just to annoy Wasserman Schultz. I’ve done that myself in plenty of races.

But I’m guessing most of Harrington’s small donors, being unfamiliar with the district’s partisan makeup, actually believed there was a chance to win when there wasn’t.

All political campaigns try to spin the truth, but spinning the truth is a lot different than making up a falsehood to raise money.

Had a financial firm used numbers like that to sell securities, there would have been an uproar – and a few indictments.

But because this is politics, and Harrington ran against Wasserman Schultz, we’re all supposed to be loyal, little Republican robots and close our eyes to this sham of a campaign.

Not me. I don’t play the robot game.

Treating our working-class base like a bunch of chumps, like sheep, to be sheared of their hard-earned money by any means necessary, may not be illegal, but it is a crime.

It’s a crime against the conservative cause, a crime against our own people, and a crime against future conservative candidates whose job in convincing donors they have a chance to win has been made all the harder by the unscrupulous tactics of those who came before them.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed
About Jack Furnari

Jack Furnari is a founding partner of BizPacReview.com, an editorial board member, and one of our writers. Jack can be reached at Jack@BIZPACReview.com, Google, & @Jackbpr

  • Termack

    Republicans and reality. Like oil and water.

  • Oh the hypocrisy

    It's like being told that Margi has ben chosen as president of some important sounding "conservative action network" that you just made up the week before. All of you "conservatives" are full of it which is why you are getting destroyed.

    • Jan

      YEP we are full of it, FULL OF THE TRUTH which you democrats refuse to admit! Can you really say that Wasserman Schultz is anything but a liar, caught in them several times? WHY would you support someone like that? Oh that's right your party is all about the lies,anything it takes to win regardless of the consequences! Well you got what you wanted now DEAL with the consequences

      !

  • Mark

    It's been, not ben hypocrite.

  • http://None Realist

    Well said, Jack. Only thing I might add is that sometimes it's not worth putting up a candidate for these seats. All it does is stoke the hornets nest. It's such a heavy D district that all Harrington did was energize DWS to turn out her D voters. If no one had ran against DWS, perhaps the Ds in her district would have just stayed home.

    • Jack Murphy

      That a real brainstorm of an idea put up no one at all? Using your logic we Republicans should not be in charge of Florida after all there are more dems than republicans………..Your logic like your writing is typical for Democrats lie lie lie and if that fails lie some more…..

  • http://woxof1@earthlink.net John A

    So am I to believe that NO Republican could have beaten Ms. Wasserperson- Schultz ? Who decided that Harrington was the best choice to give it a try. According to one of the posts It's all about THE TRUTH and LIES. Conservatives tell THE TRUTH and Democrats tell LIES. It looks like a lot of voters were'nt buying the Conservative message in that District. I detest Ms. Wasserperson-Schultz with the Medusa style hairdoo; but the Republicans failed to provide a candidate that was acceptable to more than 36% of the voters in the heavily Democrat district. WHY?…. I'm in the 22nd District . Tons of road signs and daily flyers in the mailbox didn't seem to work here either.

  • http://none Joe Budd

    Yawn… Here we are three weeks post election and you post this story now? If you really had strong convictions regarding how candidates manipulate stories, polls or hang nails for fundraising purposes I would think you would have released this sooner after the election.

    My guess is this story would have never been written if Karen had not decided to run for BREC chair. Kind of a get even with Javier for trashing Geoff. Yes that's the bottom line here. For the record, I agree with you, I like Rico too.

    • Jack Furnari

      Yes Joe, everything I do is part of a giant conspiracy. For the record, I started researching this story before Harrington announced for BREC chair, but believe whatever you want.

  • Et tu, Brute

    Javier didn't trash that Sommers guy, he just helped out the conspirators giving someone a place to post their political attack. The articles were penned by some other person and the grammar was above his aptitude. Sure whoever it was is part of the same group of 50 shades of deceit.

  • Danita

    Hi, Jack:

    It's time someone wrote the facts of this district for all to see, even if its a bit delayed. We had one person leave our tea party when Jack G. explained the math of district 23 and suggested we not put our energy there. The Truth often hurts and Freedom of Speech is a bitch. Thanks!

  • http://www.bizpacreview.com/2012/11/26/harringtons-campaign-against-wasserman-schultz-fleeced-small- Antonio Sosa

    You are not counting the MASSIVE FRAUD that took place all over the country! For all we know, Karen Harrington may have won! In adition to the government-controlled media (most of the media), there was FRAUD at every level, in every possible way, including Democrats voting several times, illegals voting, voting machines fixed to change votes to favor Democrats. Apparently bussloads of people were taken from cruiseships to busses to voting locations. Were foreigners offered free cruise vacations in exchange for voting for Democrats?

  • Brandon Johns

    Actually conservatives make up nearly half the country. You liberals only made up about 20% at last check.