Politics 101: No matter how bad the news is, trying to hide it or cover it up will only make it ten times worse. And, what was once a lost battle quickly explodes into a lost war. Sen. Mark Udall’s campaign never learned this lesson.
In one of the chintzier tactics we’ve seen in Colorado’s Senatorial race, Udall’s campaign today had the audacity to believe they could release two different fundraising numbers combined together, and that no one would notice. Hey, amateurs, we noticed.
Knowing they had already been outraised by Gardner $4.35M to $4M, Udall’s campaign tried to pull a fast on and tack on money that is never included in fundraising totals to reach $4.5M. If this “other money” is included, Gardner himself raised $4.75M. So which way does the Udall campaign want to get beat? The traditional, standard way where Udall loses $4.35M to $4M? Or, Udall’s new “creative accounting” where they lose $4.75M to $4.5M, but also have the stink of desperation wafting off of him so strongly that he’s quickly becoming the New Jersey to Gardner’s NYC.
Sure, the slight confusion Udall’s campaign caused, might have prevented the tweets from blaring out “GARDNER OUTRAISES UDALL!” but by the time undecided voters get home to watch the news tonight or read the papers tomorrow the headline will now be “UDALL LIES ABOUT FUNDRAISING NUMBER!” The former may get us #copolitics junkies all hot and bothered, but it’s the latter that will make undecideds take notice.
Now to Udall’s campaigns credit, their tactic worked… for all of two minutes. KDVR’s Eli Stokols hunger to be the A-Rod to Lynn Bartels’ Jeter in the world of Colorado political reporting, obliged Udall’s campaign’s cheap tactics with a tweet trumpeting Udall raising $4.5M. Stokols will be kicking himself for that one as Udall’s campaign left a meatball over the plate for Stokols to tee off on. With just a few more minutes of questioning the numbers Udall released, Stokols could have broken a story that would now be echoing around the country.
As it stands, things are going so bad for Udall’s campaign that even the thought of losing a fundraising battle to Gardner pushes them to extraordinary measures of resorting to “creative accounting.” Cleary things are not well in Udall-land if the best spin they can come up with involves fudging the fundraising numbers. No, things are so bad for them that they literal feel they cannot lose one more media cycle and have any hopes of surviving.
Pro tip: If that’s your campaign’s mentality, you’ve already lost.