The Biggest Mistake in Politics

080131_floridaBy Steve Pickering

What is the biggest mistake made in politics?

a) Pulling Defeat from the Jaws of Victory
b) Becoming Complacent When Your Candidate is Ahead in the Polls
c) Starting the Victory Celebration a Week Before the Election
d) Being Unprepared for All Contingencies

(Please page down for the answer)




Actually, all four are correct, as many people guessed, but they all stem from b) Complacency.

At the time this was written, there were five days until the election.  Many races look as though they are “in the bag.”  Some are “close, but we’re winning.”  A few are too tough to call and a few are losing.  Most races, though, no one really knows.

There are very few campaigns that do not need attention until the polls close on election day.   Some races, however, need to “kick it up a notch” to generate that extra edge and to ensure there are no surprises on election day.

There are a number of things we can do to help our favorite candidate before the election:

– Walk around our neighborhood and discuss our favorite candidate with neighbors.
– Call people with views similar to ours.
– Write something on our Facebook page.
– Send a Twitter message.
– Write a comment to an article on our favorite newspaper site or blog.
– Vote Early.
– Visit our party headquarters and volunteer.  Bring a friend.
– Put a sign on our lawn.
– Call in to a local talk show.
– Offer to carpool with someone to an early voting location or polling place.
– Talk about voting with everyone we know, encouraging them to vote.
– Wear an “I Vote” button.

The list is endless.  Most of these we can do in ten or fifteen minute blocks each day.

For people already working on a campaign, consider stepping up the effort over the next five days.

What are we trying to avoid?  That little voice that invades our thoughts that says “If only I had done more…”

How will we feel if an election goes into recount, and the results are not known for weeks, or even months?  Most of us remember the presidential election in 2000…

How will we feel if our candidate loses by less than 100 votes?

How will we handle someone when they tell you the next day, “Oh, I forgot to vote…”  Murder is not an option…

Earlier this week, a poll was released for Florida’s 8th Congressional District (Webster vs. Grayson), and the results show Daniel Webster winning by 7 percentage points.  While the Webster campaign can celebrate for five minutes, it needs to now go into high gear.  Why?  Because polls have a habit of being inaccurate.  Even more important, the Grayson camp is pulling out all the stops at this point.

They are now on notice that they could lose, and are willing to do anything to reverse the situation.  Maybe they’ll hire 500 people to canvass for him.  He has the campaign funds to do it.  Perhaps they will start blasting the airwaves with ads, or dropping leaflets from the sky…  Who knows?  Money means nothing to the Grayson campaign  when compared to the shame of defeat.  They are desperate to win, and desperation from an opponent is a danger sign.

Are Webster supporters just as desperate to win?

The week of an election is a time when underdogs take the lead, and leaders are humbled.   Are we willing to help our favorite candidates maintain their lead or reverse positions with the leader?  Enthusiasm and hard work count for a lot in the last week of an election.

There are plenty of close elections in Florida.  Let’s all pick one and give as much support to it as we can.  Let’s Get to Work!  (with apologies to Rick Scott)

Fair Warning:  The election is not over until the polls close on November 2nd.


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