The lead item in the Web site politicalwire.com today is Mark McKinnon’s column in The Daily Beast: Texas Gov. Rick Perry beat Democratic challenger Bill White, the former mayor of Houston, for an historic and unprecedented third four-year term by a whopping 13 points, a margin that surprised even his own pollster. But what is really surprising is the way Perry won. Sure, he did all the traditional things well. He raised a ton of money. He honed a clear and compelling message and communicated it aggressively with great discipline. And he galvanized the Republican base. But, he also did something shockingly unconventional. He told the press to take a hike. Perry didn’t receive any endorsements from the major newspapers in the Lone Star State. And, the governor went out of his way to make sure he didn’t. Perry didn’t attend a single editorial endorsement meeting–knowing he would, therefore, be unlikely to gain any newspaper endorsements. And he didn’t. Which is what he wanted. Mike Baselice, Perry’s highly skilled pollster, acknowledged Wednesday at a public forum sponsored by The Texas Tribune that the campaign asked primary voters in Texas whether a newspaper endorsement would make them more or less likely to vote for Perry. Only 6 percent said an endorsement would make them more likely to support Perry, while an eye-popping 37 percent said it would make them less likely (56 percent said it made no difference). Talk about a paradigm shift. This is a sea change in the way candidates have historically campaigned. Good news for candidates who never much liked kissing the rings of the media elites. But more bad news for the increasing irrelevance of newspapers and the mainstream media. * * * * Some readers of this blog will find this discussion familiar. Here is my post of last Thursday, “Rick Perry vs. the Media”: This is from a Web site called Mr. Media Training blog: “2010 was supposed to be the year that attacking the media — if not ignoring it altogether — was the winning media strategy. It didn’t turn out that way. Tuesday’s election results are a vindication for media strategists who have long argued that maintaining positive press relations is still the best path to electoral success.” “That’s not to say that an anti-media campaign strategy can’t work. It can, and it did for a handful of candidates. But the high-wire tactic tends to be horribly overused, unnecessarily crippling otherwise viable candidates.” * * * * [My post} Tell that to Rick Perry. Perry refused to debate his opponents; he refused to meet with editorial boards; and he won by a comfortable margin. Perry exults in stiffing the media. After the 2006 gubernatorial debate, when all four candidates were supposed to take questions afterward, Perry left for Austin and let Tommy Williams answer questions in his stead, while staffer Robert Black smirked in the background. At the National Conference of Editorial Writers this fall, which I attended as a panelist, Perry did not take questions — which is usually standard practice at these kinds of conferences — and hobnobbed with local TV reporters instead. Could this be the model for politicians in the age of MSM media decline? I would not be surprised to see Perry take an aggressive anti-media stance in the coming presidential campaign, as several Republican candidates did during Senate races. He will turn the endorsements that he didn’t get from the state’s newspapers into a positive: “The liberal media in Texas endorsed my opponent and I won by twelve points.” I’m told that his folks have already polled the issue, and it’s a big winner in among Republicans.
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