Kenton Ngo
Johnny Camacho
Aimee Fausser
Bryan Scrafford
Greg Bouchillon

Bearing Drift
Blue Commonwealth
Not Larry Sabato
Raising Moran

7 West
Albo Must Go
Anonymous Is A Woman
Getting Around
Leslie Byrne
Left of the Hill
Ox Road South
Raw Fisher
Renaissance Ruminations
The Green Miles
Too Conservative
X Curmudgeon

Shad Plank
Vivian Paige

Democratic Central
Rick Sincere
Rule .303
Shaun Kenney
Waldo Jaquith

Save Richmond
Tertium Quids

Dem Bones
What IS Right For Virginia
220 South

Adam Sharp
The Friendly City
The Valley Progress Report

Rick Howell Speaks
Star City Harbinger

Symbolic Value: Creigh Deeds, Harris Miller, and Shad Planking

by: Kenton Ngo

Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 11:05:00 AM EDT

As the Democratic candidate with the strongest roots in Virginia, State Senator Creigh Deeds' decision to skip the Old Dominion's biggest political tradition, next week's Shad Planking, seems a bit odd. Instead, he will spend it touring areas of far Southwest Virginia that have gotten little attention in this year's primary season. His supporters hailed it as "Shunning Shad, Valuing Voters."

On an absolute voter contact and persuasion level, it's a good call by Team Deeds. Virginia's chattering class has either already set their hearts on one of the candidates, or is sticking to a pledge of neutrality. Indulge me briefly as I misappropriate some foreign policy buzzwords. We can safely say that Deeds is going to win campaign "hard power" that day--direct voter contact. Shad Planking, though, carries quite a bit of political "soft power" that could enhance his campaign indirectly, and simply disappearing could be damaging.

Blithely skipping the Shad Planking makes Creigh Deeds invisible. Ever since Terry McAuliffe entered the race, Deeds has had to fight off the perception that he's the third candidate. He will get no face time in the nightly news, he will get no mention in the morning papers, and the collected cognoscenti at Wakefield will be content to declare his campaign dead.

In 2006, Jim Webb won the sign war by an overwhelming margin. His primary opponent, Harris Miller, had nothing except a pair of aides tailing him with signs mounted on sticks. By itself, such a pathetic showing swayed no votes. However, it fed into a perception that the Miller campaign was impotent, and invisible. Coupled with other events, it helped send the Miller campaign to oblivion.

Creigh Deeds will win more votes that day by talking to actual voters--but at the cost of media attention and, most importantly, visibility. He just has to hope that by not even showing up, his campaign won't be tagged with the unshakable perception that he's completely invisible.

Kenton Ngo :: Symbolic Value: Creigh Deeds, Harris Miller, and Shad Planking
Tags: (All Tags)
Print Friendly View Send As Email
It will reinforce the idea in many voters minds that there are two candidates running when they hear or read the news the next day. Comments between Moran and Mcauliffe.

This could be a continuation of the bitch fest between the Moran and McAuliffe campaigns and supporters.  Or, if you prefer, a continuation of their reenactment of Irving Berlin's Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better.  It's hard to see how Deeds would have gotten a lot of air time in the base case here.  Someone (from either of those two camps) could make a catty comment and then all the attention will be focused on that.  The press that followed might include a line at the end that said: "Oh yeah! And Creigh Deeds was there."  

Since Terry's entrance into the race, the focus has shifted to the Moran-McAuliffe fight and Deeds has been flying under the radar.  I don't see how going or not going changes anything for Deeds.  And actually not going is already a greater attention getter for him than going.

[ Parent ]
who's seeing it, though?
It all depends not on what the bloggers see but what the general public sees and how this event is covered in the MSM. I just worry that this may be a bad move for Creigh.

[ Parent ]
Who indeed?
I tend to agree with aznew on this one.  Everyone already knows that Terry is going to win the sign war.  Creigh could spend a lot of money and devote a lot of staff time to pulling even with Brian, but what would be the result?  There'd be some coverage in Richmond and Hampton Roads media markets, but the focus on the coverage would be that Terry wins another sign war, like he did at the JJ.  The people who pay attention to the Shad Planking may take it as a sign of weakness, but the thing about the people who pay attention to the Shad Planking is that they've already written the narrative of the campaign (see Joel McDonald's diary about how Creigh should drop out), and unless Creigh won the sign war no minds would be changed about the relative strength of the candidates.

Moreover, Creigh could use his decision not to show as a way to earn media.  He can win support in Southside/the 9th in local media by being there and not in wakefield, and all of the media in wakefield will have to mention that Creigh chose not to show up in order to talk to some voters.

[ Parent ]
The MSM and general public
If he is there, does that translate into greater notice by the MSM or public?  Does the public pay much attention to this?  From a media perspective, I doubt it is getting more attention than being buried somewhere in their state/metro/political coverage.  And the only people who are getting that info are the very small minority of primary voters that pay close attention to this stuff months before the primary.  That small minority has most likely already made up their mind.  Haven't you?  So, what's the diff?

In fairness, I have not made up my mind and include myself in that small minority I mentioned above.  However, I suspect most of that minority is not like me and has already made up their mind.  But Deeds' attendance at Shad Planking (which sounds like a euphemism) wouldn't have swayed my decision one way or the other.  And why really would it sway any undecided voter's position one way or the other?  Because one camp has more signs?

My point is that he will be more noticeable not being their.  Instead of being included in media coverage as an after thought, it will be a notable occurrence that one of the candidates did not attend and why.  

[ Parent ]
I think you've got a point
I would slightly disagree in that I think there is a part of the population that will vote in the primary that hasn't paid much attention, but will happen to see coverage of this event, and could be influenced by it. But if so, they are likely to be influenced by finding out a bit about the candidates, not by who "wins"; I agree that anyone who cares about that probably already has a candidate. So any benefit Creigh derives from the event is simply by being mentioned, and based on the coverage of the JJ, I agree that he's likely to get more attention by not attending than by attending. (However, I also think the fact that this is true makes it undeniable that his position in the race is not very strong.)

[ Parent ]
Not a big deal
I don't consider Creigh Deeds not participating in the Shad Planking a big deal. This is truly inside baseball. Do you really think anyone, besides political junkies, will be paying attention to an event that takes place on April 15?

I took a look at our local coverage of last year's event - you can see it here. You can get an idea of how much the Pilot cares based on the byline - the reporter assigned wasn't even a political reporter! Normally, Warren Fiske is assigned to cover it, as he did in 2007.

I can just about write the story that's coming out of the SP without even going. We already know what the meme will be. So Creigh isn't hurting himself by not attending this leftover from the days of the Byrd Machine.  

[ Parent ]
Nope, I don't think most people will be paying attention.  I'm sticking with my sidebar comment that I as well as others probably think Shad Planking is a euphemism or double entendre.  And my final point was really just he'll get more attention than attending.  That will still only be marginal in the grand scheme of things; but still .01 versus .001 is still more.  

Thanks for the Pilot reference from last year!

[ Parent ]
Recent Diaries


Make a New Account



Forget your username or password?

RSS 2.0
Tip Jar

Send tips & press releases to:
[email protected]

1. 52 OPEN (R)
2. 42 Albo (R)
3. 86 Rust (R)
4. 34 Vanderhye (D)
5. 50 Miller (R)
Full rankings
Updated: April 17


Advanced Search

LeftyBlogs Latest

The views expressed on this site are representative solely of the author, and do not necessarily imply endorsement by New Dominion Project staff.
Powered by: SoapBlox