How Brad Little Won The Idaho Republican Primary
It's been a week since Lieutenant Governor Brad Little's big win in the Idaho Republican Gubernatorial Primary. Despite most folks predicting another winner, here's a look at how he pulled off the big win.
The Little Campaign covered every aspect of what it takes to win. An unbeaten run for office usually means that every source of votes is measured and targeted. We saw the outcome of a well-orchestrated effort to win Idahoan's vote.
So how did Brad Little win a primary that some thought would go to a businessman outsider or a grassroots congressman? Little began by playing to his strength, which is the agriculture community in the state. Every farmer and rancher knows who Brad Little is. He solidified his base by reinforcing his roots. We say this strategy, to a degree, is what helped Butch Otter in 2014. Governor Otter worked the rural communities, and his efforts paid off with the win.
Although the Ag and Ranching communities are influential, they alone couldn't guarantee a win. The lieutenant governor was first to be on the radio with paid media. Unlike the others in the race, Brad Little had every opportunity for earned media exposure. In other words, interviews with media outlets big and small throughout the state. The more time in front of the camera, the more it helps a candidate's name identification.
There have been several days when Governor Otter was out of state. When that happens, the lieutenant governor is the acting governor. The Little organization took advantage of every opportunity given to them by the absence of Governor Otter. The lieutenant governor filled in for the governor several times during the past two years. His appearances continued to raise his profile among voters.
There's a famous saying in politics, 'campaigns are won and lost in the last few weeks.' The last two weeks are a textbook example of how to win a campaign. The last weeks are when the crucial undecided voters make their pick. It's where elections are won and lost. Here's how Brad Little won the primary.
Polling in Idaho is like the wild, wild, West. In other words, you never know what the results are going to be from the pollsters. The Little Campaign must have figured out that Raul Labrador was the man to beat. The lieutenant governor's comparative or negative ads specifically targeted the congressman.
Throughout the campaign, Little's ads smacked both candidates. Now with the focus on Labrador, three outcomes were defined.
Congressman Labrador holds his lead and wins the primary. Dr. Ahlquist, without the firepower directed at him, rebounds and wins. Or, which is what happened, Brad Little wins the nomination.
The Little Campaign released a hard-hitting ad questioning the commitment of Congressman Labrador's support for President Trump. We all know that the congressman campaigned for the president. However passive politicos were unsure, and the spot was useful.
However, the spot alone didn't win the election. It was a combination of what media insiders call frequency. The Little Campaign was well funded and already an aggressive commercial schedule. Combine their efforts with the ads from their allies and the dye was cast. There was not enough time or ad space for the Labrador folks to respond before last Tuesday Night.
Their response, a phone call from David Bossie, was ineffective and confusing. The sound quality was, and folks in Idaho don't know who David Bossie is. They would've been better off airing the congressman appealing to the voters.
The Little Strategy reminds me of George Bush doing the same thing to Bob Dole in 1988. Dole was ahead and looked like the winner of the New Hampshire Presidential Primary. Bush hit Dole with a last-second TV ad, and it was game over.
Brad Little now moves on to the general election and inevitable victory.