Friday, May 4, 2018

Two person race for Congress? Maybe not. Maybe add Jim Crary.

E-Mail Message: "You're looking at the wrong thing, Peter. Neahring has $cratch, but she doesn't have people."

Maybe I underestimated Jim Crary's campaign.

From my vantage point in the population center of the 2nd Congressional District, I asserted that Jamie McLeod Skinner and Jennifer Neahring were the frontrunners. They had campaigns I could see with my own eyes. There are other things to look at.  

It matters to Democratic voters which candidates are potential winners. They want to vote their preference among the seven, but a vote for a hopeless campaign doesn't influence the choice between those candidates with a plausible chance of winning. Some voters are strategic.

There is indirect data on whose campaigns are doing well. One is money raised in the District. Jamie McLeod Skinner and Jennifer Neahring raised the most. I inferred from the lack of money raised by Michael Byrne, Eric Burnette, Jim Crary, Raz Mason, and Tim White that their campaigns were fading. Money raised from real people in the District is a tool for spreading a message through mailers, TV, and lawn signs, but it is also a measure of who is successful in getting support. It is a kind of poll.

There is another data set. Facebook engagement. Each candidate has a Facebook page for the campaign. I don't doubt that there are ways to game the numbers, if one wanted to, but I will report what I see in the "Community" listing for each candidate.

Eric Burnette:               229 Likes                 254 Follows

Michael Byrne:           1,306 Likes             1,356 Follows

Jim Crary:                  4,385 Likes              4,560 Follows

Raz Mason:                  165 Likes                 178 Follows

Jamie Mc.-Skinner    2,371 Likes              2,482 Follows

Jennifer Neahring        560 Likes                 603 Follows

Tim White                    135 Likes                 163 Follows

Facebook engagements reward time in the field securing supporters, so Crary's lead is not a surprise since he started early. He used his time well. It is imperfect data, but it shows something. It confirms yesterday's assertion that Jamie McLeod-Skinner has been a strong networker. It also elevates Jim Crary as a candidate, and diminishes Jennifer Neahring.  

Jim Crary appears to be a candidate in the first rank. The numbers tend to confirm this blog's assumption that Burnette, Mason, and White have not gained popular traction. It puts into question whether Neahring has broad popular support. Her campaign assumes that her being a physician brings credibility and status, but there is a difference between status and popularity. Possibly her campaign has an emphasis toward other forms of networking than Facebook, but for whatever reason her social media presence is weak. The numbers elevate Michael Byrne; he has friends.

This data can be cross-checked with the count of people who have viewed videos they have posted on Facebook. My presumption is that if one has a genuinely big social media presence, it shows up in people who watch videos on ones Facebook page, a number that is visible to the public.

Michael Byrne's videos have very direct personal and policy criticism of Greg Walden, done in the style that is totally typical of Byrne: direct, disjointed, scattered, informal. Click: excellent example of Michael Byrne's style  A couple of his early videos from March have 1,200 and 1,300 views, but videos he has up for the past month have had fewer than 250 views. This suggests that his campaign is not getting a last minute burst of enthusiasm. 

Tim White also has vivid, watchable videos. He retains his position as the candidate who most directly takes it to Walden, defining Walden as a smooth politician utterly dishonest in presenting himself to the people. White says Walden shamefully took healthcare from his own constituents. Click: White hammers Walden for hypocrisy 

White's videos have a consistent style and they have a tone that draws spirited applause in Democratic audiences. One video from late March has had 1,500 views, but more typical is the viewership of recent videos, ranging from fewer than 100 up to 700. I consider these videos a lost opportunity for White, because videos unseen do not change votes and I consider his videos to have a compelling message for Democratic primary voters.

Jim Crary's numbers are much, much higher. Jim Crary, too, has videos up. Like Byrne's and White's, they are very simply produced: Crary looking directly at the camera. He has page views of 6,600, 7,900, and 10,000 for some of his videos. Those numbers confirm that Crary's campaign, largely invisible to me personally, is bigger and more effective than I had understood.

There are ways through "boosting" to drive audiences to a video, so this may not reflect deep support or interest in the candidate's message--and future votes--but it does reflect Crary's ability to reach people through social media. Click: "I will work hard."  His videos are not as compelling to me as are White's, but Crary gets people to see them.

What about the video numbers for the supposed frontrunners, Neahring and McLeod-Skinner? A video by McLeod-Skinner posted on April 27, her speech at  the woman's rally in Medford, has 5,400 views. Jennifer Neahring's video, the one I have referenced in two earlier posts, has been up since April 25 and has 885 views. Neahring's campaign apparently hopes to reach its audience through paid media because it isn't getting it via Facebook networking. 

Conclusion: When using money as a signal for campaign vigor, this is a two person race between Neahring and McLeod-Skinner. Using social media as a signal, then this is a two person race between Jim Crary and McLeod-Skinner.  Combining money, Facebook engagement, and video views, then four candidates appear to have fallen behind; Tim White, Michael Byrne,  Eric Burnette (late April video views of fewer than 900), Raz Mason (sparse video views and none recently).

Looking at the information combined, possibly this is a three person race: Neahring, Crary, and McLeod-Skinner.


Jeanne Chouard said...

Jim Crary is not very far behind Jennifer Neahring at least according to the FEC latest reports. Neahring loaned her campaign a relatively large amount of cash. When you take that into account, she still has more funds than Crary and maybe she's already attracted enough donations to pay back her loan. Since she got started late in the game, loaning her campaign some money to get the ball rolling needed, but this does illustrate how ordinary working people like Michael Bryne cannnot successfully run for Congress. In a district where the average income is about $35,000 a year, most folks don't have $25,000 to launch a campaign for Congress.

Alice DiMicele said...

Please note: I "like" almost all the candidates on Facebook and I have watched and liked their videos. I still only get one vote. Whoever wins the primary will have my support against Walden.