Darcie Johnston discovers data

After spending most of this year siphoning money from Randy Brock’s campaign to buy expensive out-of-state political consulting, polling, and advertising services, and to pay herself eight G’s a month plus expenses, chief consultant Darcie Johnston has had an epiphany:

It’s all about the data.

So she says in a VTDigger article that builds on earlier stories from Seven Days and the Vermont Press Bureau, in exploring the huge organizational advantages that Vermont Democrats enjoyed over the VTGOP.

Yes, the second-biggest waste of money in Vermont politics (number 1 is, of course, Vermonter(s) First) has suddenly discovered that the secret to success isn’t money after all!

While the Dems knew who their potential voter bases were and how to target them, the Republicans didn’t.

… “We need a voter file that is well developed and computer driven and ID’d using every demographic we can find and overlaid with every piece of social media information that can be mined,” said Johnston on Friday. “And it needs to start tomorrow.”

Funny. She just managed a campaign completely based on TV ads, mailers, and smearing the Democrats, and NOW she realizes the key is data?  

Say, Darcie, how much money did you spend on data when it could have made a difference — during the campaign you just managed into the toilet? Well, the implicit message in her “analysis” is (surprise, surprise) it wasn’t her fault.

The problem, she said, wasn’t with the candidates, who she said were strong this year, it was the lack of information readily available to effectively campaign for those candidates.

Okay, first of all, the candidates were “strong”? Randy Brock, who spent hundreds of thousands and drew fewer votes than the unknown and underfunded Cassandra Gekas? Wendy Wilton, who utterly failed to convince voters she was the apolitical technocrat depicted in her campaign? Jack “Six Teats” McMullen? The Secretary of State vacancy? John MacGovern? Mark Donka?

Phil Scott was strong. The rest of the ticket was pathetic.

Johnston’s profound cluelessness aside, the most notable thing in that paragraph is her subtle shifting of blame from the Brock campaign to the VTGOP: “the lack of information readily available.”

See, it wasn’t her job to get that information; her campaign collapsed because it wasn’t “readily available.”

Funny. I never heard one peep out of Johnston about this during the campaign. But now that it’s all gone up in flames, and Randy Brock has grounds to sue her for consumer fraud*, she’s conveniently found a scapegoat.

*She’s like a contractor who makes a roof out of plywood and, when the first snowstorm trashes the whole thing, comes back and says “Y’know, what you really need is shingles.”

One final note about good investments. The Digger article spotlights one of the Dems’ many young insiders who made all the difference in building an unbeatable organization: John Faas.

Over the last five months, Faas has created a database that shows Vermonters’ voting history, contact information, any previous contact with the party, the districts voters live in and party-specific modeling information. The Vermont Democratic Party has paid Faas about $9,516 so far this year.

Got that? $9,516 for Faas for the entire campaign. Approximately the same amount Darcie Johnston got paid every goddamn month (salary plus expenses).

Oh, Darcie. As a liberal, let me offer you best wishes in your future as a political hack. As long as you’re in the game, our side has a whole lot better chance of winning.  

8 thoughts on “Darcie Johnston discovers data

  1. ‘Free Market’ would not be kind to these folks…

    ‘Well we thought we had a really strong product, I mean, just look at it! The problem is we didn’t bother to research our market, and we did’nt run any numbers on what our margins could be, and we sort of forgot to collect any receipts when we did sell a few of them ages ago.

    But we tried. Just look at this business in a box we built! Too bad ‘the market’ thought it was a dumb idea. It’s not our fault. Really. I just manage the company. The manufacturer just didn’t tell me that VT is already awash in boxes. It’s a tough sell I tell ya. Our distributor should have warned us.

    The problem, Darcie, is that the data is scary. VT just doesn’t seem to be filled with folks likely to buy what you are selling.

    Might want consider moving to one of those other colored states right now.

    And, do you own a house in Florida?  

  2. Republicans can whine all they want that Democrats won because we had better lists, better technology and better targetting — but that ignores the fundamental problem for them. Democrats won because our message, our values, and our candidates were appealing to the voters in the first place.

    Maybe a better GOTV operation could have turned out an extra 5,000 votes statewide for the Republicans… but that wouldn’t have produced a victory for Brock, Wilton, Illuzzi, or McMullen. Spread out over legislative districts maybe it would have allowed them to win another Senate seat or 2/3 additional House seats. But it wouldn’t change the fundamental political leanings of the state, and wouldn’t allow Republicans to convince the large majority of Vermont voters that their values are consistent with the state’s.

    As for the state of the GOP lists, it is certainly crap.

    In March, I opted to vote in the Republican presidential primary (just for fun, since there was no Democratic contest). Since the ballot you take is a matter of public record, I figured that I would end up on the Republican list and spend the election flooded with Republican messages.

    But I never heard anything from any Republican candidate until the final 10 days of the campaign – and what I got was ridiculously bad.

    My first message was a live caller – when they got my voice mail, they must have thought they had hung up, and I was treated to a 3 minute discussion between the staffer/volunteer making the call and the Republican supervisor, bemoaning how bad of a list it was, how most of the people either weren’t supporters or were wrong numbers.

    My second call was a robocall from the Republican State Committee… it simply listed all of the Republican candidates for office from Governor down to state Senate, and urged me to vote for them. But they actually got my Senate district wrong… listing the candidates for Franklin County district, while I live in one of the Franklin County towns attached to Essex/Orleans. (Remember, if they built their list from the primary checklist, they know precisely which town I vote in…)

    My third call came the weekend before the election – it was a robocall of Jim Douglas urging me to get out and vote for Randy Brock because he would be a great governor.

    My final Republican call was a repeat of the earlier robo-call consisting of reading off the list of Republican candidates – including the wrong Senate candidates again. No issue message, no appeal other than “please vote for these Republican candidates.”

    I live in a House district where the Republican incumbent was ousted in a tight race. I live in a Senate district where a Democrat narrowly won Vince Illuzzi’s old seat. A smart Republican campaign would have seen targeted appeals to me for their candidates in those districts – but never heard a word – other than a bulk mailer that everyone else in my post office received (and immediately put in the recycle box) – from any of the Republican candidates in those races. I never was contacted by the Wilton, the Illuzzi, or the McMullen campaigns,

    If that is the use the Republicans make of the lists they do have, then building the best list on the planet won’t help them in the future, because they don’t know what to do with the names they do have – let alone how to reach out and appeal to a broader spectrum of voters beyond the hard core Republican true believers.

  3. Let me save the VT GOP a few bucks right off the bat: the full-on assult of phone calls and mailers sent to my house is not a good use of resources.  I used to make it a point, when called by a real person for GOTV or a push-poll, of making it entirely clear that I didn’t support anything having to do with their agenda (“Am I extremely upset, generally upset, or only midly upset by Obama’s socialist healthcare plans? I’m extremely upset that it’s NOT a socialist healthcare plan…”).

    None of that seems to have mattered, so now I just hang up immediately.  Any organization that pegs me as a possible Republican voter has 0% chance of success.

  4. Democrats won because our message, our values, and our candidates were appealing to the voters in the first place.

    I hear this on the national level, too.  Republicans everywhere are saying that the reason they lost was that they weren’t extremist enough.  I heard a long discussion on NHPR where the Republican was bewildered that they didn’t have more black, hispanic, women votes.  “Hispanics believe in Traditional Family Values, Free Enterprise, and less Regulations too, we should have had their vote.  Why, oh, why didn’t hispanics vote for Rmoney?! I just don’t understand it.”

    Republicans believe that becoming more extreme will help, that lynching someone live on Fox ‘News’ will get more black votes, rounding up and shoveling hispanic speaking people into ovens will get them more hispanic votes, declaring all women to be property of their husbands or fathers with no rights at all will get them the female vote.

    Another Republican on NHPR said that food prices go up because people get food stamps!  I bet he believes that the wind is caused by the trees waving back and forth, so the best way to stop hurricanes is to chop down every tree on the planet.

    But then again, Republicans believe in Supply Side economics, where 2 – 2 = 5, when it really equals zero.

  5. should warn people who are drinking a beverage before saying things like “I bet he believes that the wind is caused by the trees waving back and forth”

  6. … for us. And they were free, too!

    I’m guessing making it easier for a family of democrats to vote wasn’t really their intent, but hey, it worked for us!

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