Bubble Candidates

| Tue Oct. 5, 2010 3:00 PM EDT

"Do politicians need the media anymore?" I asked a few months ago. Politico's Jonathan Martin reports that the answer is apparently not:

It’s mostly, but not entirely, a Republican phenomenon....As of Friday, Colorado Republican Senate hopeful Ken Buck had gone nine consecutive days without holding a public event....Tea party darlings Rand Paul of Kentucky and Christine O’Donnell of Delaware both surged to primary victories thanks, in part, to national media exposure, but after their own comments got them into trouble, they abruptly canceled post-primary Sunday show appearances and have largely avoided doing non-Fox national TV.

....Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his GOP challenger, tea party favorite Sharron Angle, do carefully controlled public events and are loath to face the kind of scrutiny that would come in a free-flowing press conference or debate setting....“Angle’s strategy seems to be: Let the [mainstream press] do what it wants — I have Fox, conservative radio, my ads and Karl Rove,” [Jon] Ralston said, alluding to the former Bush adviser’s independent group, American Crossroads.

....In Wisconsin, the campaign of GOP Senate hopeful Ron Johnson, a first-time candidate who has made some verbal miscues but who leads three-term Sen. Russ Feingold in the polls, has ignored requests from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to share his daily schedule.

I expect to see more of this, though I suppose it depends a lot on how these bubble candidates do. Meg Whitman followed this strategy during the Republican primary in California and it worked fine, but she's abandoned it during the general election because it obviously won't work against a well-known Democratic opponent in a blue state. But for conservative candidates especially, who can rely on specific conservative channels to get their message out (Fox, talk radio, deep-pocketed independent expenditure groups), this strategy may represent the future of campaigning.

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