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J. Walker Schiff Strategy Sample

This document lays out the strategic decisions that were made on PG Sittenfeld's U.S. Senate campaign.

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J. Walker Schiff Strategy Sample

  1. 1. 2016 U.S. SENATE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY in OHIO CHALLENGE: A fresh candidate with the world against him AUDIENCE: Ohio Democratic primary electorate OPPORTUNITY: A mile wide, but an inch deep INSIGHT: “My opponent will never stand up to the NRA. I will.” POSITIONING: Neutralizing establishment support STRATEGY: Educate. Demonstrate. Validate. P.G. Sittenfeld was an upstart, but largely unknown 30-year-old councilman who ran against former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland in the 2016 Democratic U.S. Senate primary in Ohio. Our campaign had to create a strategic messaging campaign that undermined the near-universal name recognition & establishment support of Strickland, while proving to voters that P.G. was a fresh, energetic alternative & a viable candidate to take on incumbent Sen. Rob Portman in the general election. Democratic primary voters are consistently more liberal and more politically invested than those who vote in a general election. Increasingly in Ohio, they are heavily concentrated in the urban centers. Our opponent’s popularity among Ohio Democratic voters was a mile-wide, but an inch deep. Focus groups and polling suggested that voters had a vaguely positive reaction to hearing his name, but knew very few specifics about him or his record as a Congressman or Governor. Given this lack of knowledge, we selectively focused on the parts of his record that were most out step with the electorate and showed the most striking contrast with P.G. Voters want a choice, and because of Strickland’s long record of coziness with the NRA, we could lump him with the Republican incumbent. We postulated to voters that a vote against P.G. in the primary was the equivalent of a vote for the NRA in the general election, as a Strickland-Portman general election would feature two candidates with on the NRA’s side. By placing P.G. in opposition to the Strickland, Portman, and the NRA, we not only put P.G. on the right side of an important issue, but we also presented P.G. as a principled leader unsullied by interest group influences. Another key goal of our messaging plan was to prevent prominent Democratic influencers from getting involved in the race & putting their weight behind Strickland. We believed the gun issue would neutralize Strickland’s most prominent allies. Pres. Obama—the de facto face of the gun reform movement—and the Clinton’s—who had latched onto the gun issue to call into question Bernie Sanders’ progressive bonafides—would be hesitant to get involved in a race that would call into question their devotion to the gun reform issue. EDUCATE Using old clips of our opponent embracing the NRA, educate the press and voters on his record on gun reform. DEMONSTRATE With straight-to-camera ads, demonstrate PG’s value as a serious alternative with the right views on gun reform. VALIDATE Make policy proposals to earn media coverage and validate our strategy as more than just cynical political ploy. 94% Of national Democrats have a favorable view of the NRA 8%Of Ohio Democrats support universal background checks. TV Ad Online Ad Educational Video for Press TV Ad from Allied Outside Group