Skip to comments.How Fischer won
Posted on 05/19/2012 3:47:11 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
LINCOLN Deb Fischer ran a stealth campaign.
The state senator from Valentine who scored one of the biggest upsets in Nebraska political history Tuesday started to surge in the polls at the perfect time early enough to win and too late for her opponents to respond.
Fischer, who raised a paltry $440,000 to front-runner Jon Brunings $3.6 million, is now in position to become the second woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate from Nebraska, if she defeats Democrat Bob Kerrey in the fall. A third was appointed.
She took her first poke at Kerrey shortly after taking the stage at the Cornhusker Hotel in Lincoln in front of a crowd of jubilant supporters, many with tears in their eyes and some still in shock.
We need somebody whos different. Somebody whos tough. Somebody whos a Nebraskan, said Fischer, 61, in a not-so-veiled reference to Kerrey having lived the last dozen years in New York City.
She beat Bruning by slightly more than 10,000 votes and nearly doubled Stenbergs tally. She won the vast majority of Nebraskas counties.
A somber Bruning pledged in a very short speech to his supporters that he would support Fischer.
The attorney general attributed his loss to a barrage of media attention, and tactics by his opponents that he didnt agree with, an apparent reference to negative advertisements run by third-party groups who supported either Fischer or State Treasurer Don Stenberg.
As for Kerrey, the former senator took his own jab at Fischer, noting that a super PAC funded by former Omaha businessman Joe Ricketts funneled money into her race, helping her over the finish line.
Kerrey decried the large amount of money pouring into campaigns and asked what Ricketts expected in return.
When he calls her, whats he going to get? Kerrey asked. Lower taxes? Probably. Less regulation? Probably.
Fischer was truly the darkest of dark horses. Her strategy from the beginning was to remain positive and to let her two opponents bruise and batter each other on the campaign trail.
For much of the campaign, Bruning and Stenberg traded sharp verbal blows on the stump and in negative ads. Her surge also came as many Republicans confronted doubts about Bruning. He had several missteps on the trail. Among them, he once compared welfare recipients to raccoons.
He also was criticized for growing wealthy while in public office by investing in more than a dozen businesses with college and high school friends. In addition, the anti-tax outside group Club for Growth pummeled Bruning with $725,000 worth of television ads, criticizing him for raising his offices budget.
Over the final week of the campaign, Brunings support began to erode. Instead of flowing to Stenberg, whom many of the outside groups supported, those voters fled to Fischer. In the end, Stenberg didnt win a single county.
We always knew there was some kind of anti-Bruning sentiment within the Republican establishment. ... I think everyone assumed that was going to coalesce behind Stenberg .... (but) Fischer filled that void, said John Hibbing, a political scientist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Hibbing was one who believed Fischer was out of the game, saying last month that, in his opinion, she had no chance.
His doubts were shared by others, both publicly and privately, who believed Fischer had made a mistake by staying and working in the Nebraska Legislature this year for four months, ceding the campaigning to Bruning and Stenberg, who traveled the state extensively.
By the time either Stenberg of Bruning figured out that third-place Fischer was surging, it was too late to target her on the airwaves.
She ran under the radar the whole time. That was the scenario she needed to do. She needed to surface at the last minute when they couldnt respond to her, said Randy Adkins, a political science professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
For much of the campaign, Fischer was an unknown to many Nebraskans.
A poll in late March by Public Policy Polling showed that about 60 percent of Nebraskans did not know the Valentine rancher well enough to have formed an opinion on her candidacy. The poll also showed Fischer trailing badly, with 12 percent of the vote, compared to Brunings 40 percent.
Then, suddenly, Fischers campaign caught wind after her campaign released a poll last week that showed she had moved into second place, passing Stenberg.
People still on the sidelines began to jump aboard. At the urging of former Gov. Kay Orr, an early supporter of Fischers, Republican rock star Sarah Palin endorsed Fischer.
Palins endorsement was quickly followed by U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry. Both recorded late robocalls for Fischers campaign, which were played over the final days of the election.
Palin and Fortenberry gave Fischers camp some much-needed credibility, but Ricketts gave her the money. A super PAC created by Ricketts to fight government spending put $250,000 into television ads touting Fischer and criticizing Brunings character.
Both Bruning and Stenberg ended the campaign with high unfavorability ratings among voters. A Monday poll by Public Policy Polling showed 36 percent of voters had an unfavorable view of Bruning, with 34 percent holding an unfavorable view of Stenberg.
By contrast, only 17 percent had a negative view of Fischer, who was viewed favorably by 63 percent of voters surveyed.
It isnt that Deb came in and overwhelmed everybody as much as it is, she was well-positioned to take advantage of the fact that Jon and Don faltered, said David Kramer, a Republican and former chairman of the Nebraska Republican Party.
Fischer now faces a savvy political veteran. Kerrey has a proven track record of winning statewide in Nebraska, while this is Fischers first statewide race.
Fischer has the numbers on her side Republicans outnumber Democrats in the state by about 170,000 registered voters but she is going to face far more scrutiny over the coming months than she did in the primary.
Now, its one-on-one with Kerrey. Its going to be interesting to see if she has the toughness and the moxie, said Hibbing. Shell certainly have the advantage, but its her race to screw up.
Kramer said it will be imperative that she make a good first impression with voters if she wants to win in the election because the Kerrey camp will waste little time in going on the attack.
She has to start defining herself to the 70 percent of general election voters who dont know her, said Kramer. There is no question in my mind by the time this election is over everyone will know who she is.
Hope Fischer's campaign is ready for the onslaught.
Remind me which offices Miss O’Donnell held before that campaign.
Well maybe if Karl Rove can resist the temptation to throw the election to the Dems then we can get about the business of Restoring America around Reaganesque Principles.
Or does Mister Rove actually have a completely different agenda that we are not privy to?
The biggest big gun of all that Christine ran into was Karl Rove, who on the night of her primary win, when the momentum was hers and it was her week to maximize publicity from it.
Karl Rove hit the networks that night and the rest of the week, destroying her break out, and media introduction.
Kerry needs to be asked how many times he voted for Doomsberg and if he supports Doomsburg’s gun grabbing policies.
She was on an 0bama trajectory.
And the Tea Party is dead!
Delaware, Nebraska, 'nuff said.
Of course. Sorry I didn’t pick up on your main point.
I don’t see Kerry winning this. If he doesn’t pull closer soon, he will have trouble raising money out of state.
Me thinks Mr. Kerrey might be surprised that a vast majority of Nebraskans would be happy this this. He's been in DC and NYC too long if he thinks this is going to cost Fischer votes.
Certainly did not imply that their backgrounds, personalities, mannerisms, financial records, family histories, medical files, or fashion sense were mirror images.
What Bob Kerry does not realize that it’s not 1992 but 2012. Internet, twitter, FB, Tea Party, Obama is a millstone.