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Lugar Proves That Campaigns Matter Lugar Proves That Campaigns Matter

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Politics

Lugar Proves That Campaigns Matter

May 9, 2012
On one hand, Hatch's team ran what amounted to several thousand mini-campaigns. The campaign identified previous convention delegates, polled them extensively and found which delegates were likely to back one of Hatch's rivals. They then recruited opponents, helped those alternative candidates amass the support necessary and shepherded them through the precinct caucus process. Come convention time, Hatch had effectively picked his own electorate. And he almost avoided a primary altogether: Hatch needed 60 percent to skip a primary; he scored 59.2 percent. Polls indicate Hatch leads former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist by a wide margin among the wider primary electorate. Lugar, on the other hand, hadn't had a real re-election challenge in three decades -- and it showed. Challenged on whether he actually resided in the state, Lugar spent weeks, even months, defending his home address, his decision to live in northern Virginia and even whether he was legally eligible to vote in Indiana at all. His entire campaign, in other words, was spent answering questions his opponent wanted him to answer. Both candidates rushed home to save themselves during the final weeks, and even then they received very different coverage: Hatch, who left the Senate for the three weeks leading up to state convention, spent his time meeting with delegates, even those who opposed him. Lugar got headlines like this, from the Post-Tribune newspaper: "Lugar makes rare stop in Northwest Indiana with primary drawing near." Not the sort of spotlight you'd want on your campaign just days before voters head to the polls. The bottom line: Campaigns matter. That's why Hatch is probably going to get another term in the Senate and Lugar will not.
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