Campaigns Are The Key?
I think we have discounted this same concept in many other races over the past few years. We blame issues, comments and the media; but we rarely blame the campaign itself. I think there is evidence to show that we need to at shoulder at least some of the blame on the campaigns.
Anyone with knowledge of the race will tell you that the campaign was at fault for losing the Paula Miller-Mike Ball special election in 2004.
Kilgore largely lost b/c of the barrage of negative ads, specifically the death penalty ads.
Allen's loss can be at least partially attributable to the campaign's declaration of war on the Washington Post early on in the election; which ultimately bit them in the rear.
Even in 2007, many of our very close races should not have been; but were due to poor campaigns.
I don't mean to bring this up to point fingers, but to show what we really need to focus on. Good candidates can still lose if we don't run good campaigns. The key to this is getting good talent to run our races, and making sure those people are from the area the races are in (if at all possible). One of the biggest liabilities we have seen over the past few years is having campaign managers who don't know the turf they are working in.
Certainly running a great campaign is no substitute for a great candidate, but it sure helps if you have both. If the GOP is going to win in the future, we have run solid campaigns.