Sam Brownback

The Kansas Democrat Party bet it all on the 2014 race for Kansas governor. Never has there been such an influx of cash, paid staff, and national Democrat establishment and independent expenditures into a Kansas race. Add in the always compliant liberal media, and the political landscape in Kansas was quickly stacked against the incumbent Republican governor, Sam Brownback.

While Republicans garner the greatest level of Kansas voter registration, the truth is that if combined, Democrats and Unaffiliated voters outnumber Republicans. The Democrats fiercely worked to unite that combined vote, while picking off a slice of left leaning Republicans.

For months, the race trended to the Democrat candidate, Paul Davis. Local media pundits all but danced on Gov. Brownback’s expected political grave. The newsrooms had the champagne on order and their counterparts at the Democrat party headquarters were prepared for an all-out celebration. Alas, on election night, rather than champagne, the only thing that flowed in the Democrat camp were tears of defeat.

How did a sure thing slip through their hands?

The Brownback campaign, from its inception, relied heavily on electronic media to tout Gov. Brownback’s accomplishments while largely ignoring Mr. Davis. It wasn’t until the closing weeks of the campaign, after enduring relentless attacks, from both Democrat campaign ads and the media, the Brownback campaign fired back. At this point, the campaign needed to not only bring home the reliable Republican base, but expand it by turning out less frequent Republican voters. Additionally, persuading center-right leaning unaffiliated voters became critical.

The Singularis Group was engaged at this stage of the campaign to deliver targeted messages designed to strongly define the heretofore little addressed Mr. Davis, while igniting turnout in critical demographic sectors. The Singularis Group crafted effective direct mail messaging to address the shortcomings of the Democrat candidate, his rather colorful past, and the relevance of those issues to specific voters.

The campaign supported the mail effort with a vigorous follow-up phone contact program to reinforce the direct mail messaging regarding Mr. Davis, while further drawing a contrast with the accomplishments of Gov. Brownback. The one-two punch messaging of direct mail and phones boosted turnout across the targeted voter demographics.

In a post-election interview with the Wichita Eagle newspaper, Chapman Rackaway, a professor of political science at Fort Hays State University noted that Republicans portrayed Davis as a “tax-raising, Obama-loving, strip club enthusiast who favors letting criminals go loose on the street” in a series of attack ads and mailers. (Wichita Eagle, 11/5/2014).

While the media continued to tout polls showing support for Mr. Davis right up to Election Day, rapid shifts were already well underway among targeted turnout voter demographics that would deliver a come from behind victory for Gov. Brownback.