AUSTIN, Texas — In a deeply conservative state like Texas, Republican Dan Patrick was heavily favored to defeat his Democrat opponent, Leticia Van de Putte, in the race to be Texas’ next Lieutenant Governor; especially, as many political observers predicted, a Republican advantage against the backdrop of President Obama’s plummeting popularity. However, the path Patrick took to that victory — and some of the data behind his win — are “shocking the media” and “baffling the pundits,” according to a memo being circulated by one of Patrick’s top advisers.
Allen Blakemore, who served as the Chief Strategist for Patrick’s campaign, wrote a memo that he circulated on Friday titled, “Dan Patrick Shocked the Media, Democrats and a Few Republicans: A Message to Washington Republicans – Don’t Be Afraid To Be Bold” (embedded at the end of this article). In the memo, Blakemore points out several pessimistic expectations for Patrick before the election: Patrick would not do well with Hispanic voters because of his strict stance on immigration, he was the most vulnerable among the Republicans running for Lieutenant Governor, his refusal to moderate his positions on this issues would cost him votes in the general election, the efforts of groups like Battleground Texas would further damage him, and so on.
To the contrary, Patrick’s margin of victory — 58.13 percent to Van de Putte’s 38.72 percent — was only about one point less that Greg Abbott’s victory over Wendy Davis in the Governor’s race. Notably, exit polls showed that Patrick won 46 percent of the Hispanic vote, beating what was previously viewed as the high water mark for Texas Republicans, the 40 percent won by George W. Bush. Patrick also beat Van de Putte among Hispanic men, 53 percent to 46 percent. Blakemore’s memo credits these number to rejecting the “common myth, perpetuated by Democrats, that Hispanics only care about immigration.”
Blakemore also credits Patrick’s victory to taking his “unapologetic” and “authentic” conservative campaign directly to the voters. He writes:
Dan Patrick took his campaign directly to the voters. Not content to let the liberal media filter and distort his every word, he eschewed traditional media in favor of social media. He skipped meeting with the newspaper editorial boards and instead attended rallies across the state talking to thousands of people. He avoided press conferences in favor of telephone town hall meetings. He documented every move with “selfies” posted on social media.
Patrick is far from the only candidate to find success bypassing an unfriendly media. Florida Governor Rick Scott made waves in 2010 when he refused to meet with any of the editorial boards of the state’s newspapers, and still managed to get reelected last week despite continuing a hostile relationship with Florida’s political press corps. Instead, Scott poured millions of dollars into television and targeted online ads, getting his unfiltered message directly to the voters.
John LaRosa, a partner at FourTier Strategies who engineered Herman Cain’s social media and rapid response during his 2012 presidential campaign, told Breitbart Texas that when done right, social media can be an extremely effective tool to reach voters and amplify a candidate’s messaging. “While creating interesting, unique and compelling content is important, it is only one piece of the puzzle,” said LaRosa. “People will only share a candidate’s outbound posts on a consistent basis if they believe both in the person and the message. Patrick gave his supporters a reason to believe, and that inspired them to become his online megaphones. I know many of his rapid responders personally. They were fired up from day one — and their enthusiasm was contagious. It’s been said that ‘word of mouth’ is the most effective form of advertising. Social media done right is word of mouth on steroids.”
Photo credit: Dan Patrick via Facebook.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter at @rumpfshaker.