While the typical campaign for the California State Assembly takes 18-24 months, ours was just 3 days short of 6 months.
While the typical campaign costs more than $300,000 per election cycle, we had about $100,000. (My prevailing opponent and his special interest donors collectively spent more than $600,000.)
While most campaigns manipulate voters’ sentiments through vague and ambiguous statements about where the candidate stands on the issues, I was very specific and clear about my views.
But despite all of this I had the support of nearly 20% of the voters, and I owe a great thanks to my friends & family who got out the vote, shared me with their circles of friends, and helped to put the word out about our campaign. Thank you!
In crunching the final numbers, it turns out we spent $21 to get each vote, while the winning candidate spent $128 (but received only twice the number of votes). While my opponent outspent me 6-1, we can clearly see that had we more time to reach more voters, our strategies would have prevailed.
The absentee voters, who tend to vote 1 month prior to the election and mail-in their ballots, pushed this election in favor of my opponent. This is because he was able to raise the money to reach them with repeated mailers (swaying them with vague emotional rhetoric) before I was even in the race.
By the time we raised the money and began our mailers, voters were already inundated with info from every race and so many of them simply tuned out. By the time we raised the money for our radio ads, most of the absentee voters had already voted.
It is true that voters are fed-up with the politics as usual, but when they don’t know about all of their options, they tend to vote based upon name recognition and emotions.
This is why raising money to reach voters early-on is critical in all political campaigns.
The passage of Proposition 14 (open Primary elections), would have helped me immensely as I didn’t appear on the ballots of many people who were registered to other parties, but who still really liked my platform and helped out in other ways.
Many people are encouraging me to run again. I’ll tell you, frankly, that campaigning is hell.
While I truly enjoy getting out and meeting so many new people in Sacramento, and learning about what is important to them in their daily lives, the time away from my family was torcherous and dealing with the small minority of people who forget all social etiquettes and go on the attack (without knowing the candidate personally, but simply because the issue of politics comes up), got old quickly.
Still, I’m undecided. While friends & family offered sympathies over my “loss” I assure them that I’m doing quite well and I am happy. I am not discouraged.
One thing is for sure, our campaign would have been nearly as successful without the strong support of my family and friends, and I am eternally grateful. To have genuinely put myself ‘out there’ and bear my inner beliefs for all to see (and earn the support of many thousands of people in our community) is both reassuring and encouraging. Thank you again!
To see what we put together and how we reached voters, visit http://www.votemattgray.com and take some time to peruse my platform issues.