The expectations game

This little gem in the L.A. Business Journal today gives a glimpse into what the Republican strategy is for the upcoming special election and beyond into 2006. It’s only an excerpt of the article without a subscription, but in it we hear from conservative strategist Arnold Steinberg, who supports the theory of the article that Republicans are “worried” Schwarzenegger might become another Jesse Ventura.
The Republicans, and to some extent even the Schwarzenegger campaign, are trying to set the Governor up as an underdog, in order to lower expectations about his performance in the special election. This is a classic Republican strategy, and we have seen it played out numerous times. Here’s the real clue:

Furthermore, Schwarzenegger and his allies will likely be outspent in the Nov. 8 election by a margin of at least 3-1. Public employee unions, which have been airing a series of hard-hitting ads opposing the governor’s special ballot initiatives, have already raised more than $50 million and are likely to collect millions more.

It always amuses me when people with the kind of money the Republicans and their corporate backers have try to play the underdog card. It’s especially funny in Schwarznegger’s case, because he clearly could have had access to a heck of a lot more money than the unions have if his ideas weren’t so horrifyingly bad that the public has been rejecting them early on in opinion polls. Meanwhile, the California Teachers Assn. had to refinance its San Francisco headquarters in order to raise the funds necessary to fight off Schwarzenegger’s attacks.
Until Schwarzenegger has to sell one of his Hummers, or one of his corportate CEOs has to refinance a vacation home or two, the underdog approach just isn’t going to work!