In the battle for the US Senate seat currently occupied by Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), the incumbent had to run a write-in campaign after losing in the primaries to Republican Joe Miller. Radio played a big role both in her campaign and in Miller’s opposition.
Murkowski used the medium to transmit spelling lessons and write-in instructions to the state’s voters. “It was on the radio constantly,” said a local business owner quoted by the Washington Post, who was able to quote verbatim the portion of the ad telling voters to “fill the bubble” that would indicate to election officials that a write-in candidate was receiving a vote.
Meanwhile, a local talk show host, Dan Fagan of Morris Communications Anchorage blowtorch KFQD-AM Newsradio 750, urged his listeners to file as write-in options to provide more context and confusion over which Murkowski’s campaign would have to rise.
According to WaPo, some 160 candidates were validated by Election Day, and one of poses a special complication: Her name is Lisa M. Lackey, and her presence could cost Murkowski potential votes where the name written in is either “Lisa” or “Lisa M.”
That would be moot if the Miller campaign is successful in its court battle seeking to count only those votes that are spelled absolutely correctly. And according to Talkingpointsmemo.com, his suit specifically mentions comments of citizens calling into radio programs.
The Miller campaign was arguing that some people deliberately misspelled the candidate’s name as a protest, suggesting that in a way it was a vote for him – and that therefore there should be no attempt to divine voter intent when the spelling was merely close to being accurate. “Prior to the election, people commented on radio stations and in the comment sections in blogs and newspaper stories that they would deliberately incorrectly write-in a variation of ‘Murkowski’ as a protest.”
RBR-TVBR observation: Radio’s ubiquity, targetability, production efficiency and relatively low cost make it an excellent tool in the belt a political campaign. If we were in the professional campaigning class, we’d be taking advantage of the brief respite before the 2012 campaign begins to get a feel for which stations reach which citizens in our sphere of operation.