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Lessons Learned in a Successful Yet Unpredictable Primary
Tulchin Research Congratulates Our Clients’ Success in the June 8 Primaries and Shares Our Thoughts About this Unpredictable Primary
Tulchin Research would like to congratulate all of the candidates with whom we had the pleasure of working in preparation for the June 8th primary. Tulchin Research is proud to have provided polling and strategic consulting services to these clients and celebrates their success with them.
- San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Democratic nominee for California Lieutenant Governor
- San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, Democratic nominee for California Attorney General
- The California Nurses Association in their efforts to defeat Proposition 17 on the California ballot
- Richard Pan, Democratic nominee for California Assembly in District 5
- Bob Wieckowski, Democratic nominee for California Assembly in District 20
- Richard Gordon, Democratic nominee for California Assembly in District 21
- Mike Gatto, Assemblymember-elect in California’s 43rd District
- Roger Hernandez, Democratic nominee for California Assembly in District 58
- Ben Hueso, Democratic nominee for California Assembly in District 79
- The California Medical Association in its efforts to elect candidates to the state legislature
- The coalition to re-defeat former Congressman Richard Pombo in California’s 19th Congressional District, which included Defenders of Wildlife, the Humane Society, the League of Conservation Voters, the National Wildlife Federation, the Sierra Club, and Western Conservation Action.
While we had a very successful primary night, we took away several important lessons from this primary election that we wanted to share with you:
- Record low turnout tilted Republican – While there was not a lot for Democrats to get excited about for this election (we did not have a contested gubernatorial primary, unlike Republicans), even with the low turnout (less than 30% statewide) the electorate proved to be even more Republican than what most experts predicted. This meant even some of the most reliable Democratic voters sat this one out. This does not bode well for Democrats this November as we will need to engage the base and tell them exactly what is at stake in November and focus on motivating them to vote.
- Outsider, anti-Sacramento candidates gained traction, even those with limited resources – We saw in several races throughout the state that many “protest” candidates garnered a sizable share of the vote, especially in “red” inland counties. In one of the biggest upsets in state history, a Republican candidate for state Insurance Commissioner who spent no more than $5,000 defeated the Minority Leader of the Assembly, Mike Villines. In this case and other races, simply having a “state legislator” as one’s ballot label was enough to lose an election to an unknown candidate with no money.
- With voters so angry, negative advertising proved more effective than positive. We discovered in this campaign that negative advertising focusing on populist anti-corporate themes proved much more effective than warm and fuzzy positive advertising.
Our takeaway from the California primary is that Democrats will need to be on our toes this November and focus on engaging our base over the next few months so we can be sure to maximize the registration advantage Democrats have in California.