Hot Town, Summer in the City*

* Recorded by The Lovin’ Spoonful, written by John and Mark Sebastian, July 1966

“Hot town, summer in the city.

Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty.

Been down, isn’t it a pity,

Doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city.

All around, people looking half-dead,

Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match-head.”

 

By Frank Blechman

Campaign Contribution Cartoons and Comics - funny pictures from CartoonStockWe have just gone through a week of high heat and humidity. Some folks have declared it a result of global climate change. However, for those of us who have been around here for a while, we call it “summer in Virginia.” There’s been less haze than when I was younger, but still the daily chance of afternoon thunderstorms. Reportedly, it has been slightly cooler in the mountains, and better breezes along the shore. After 18 months of stewing in isolation, a lot of us want to “get away” to somewhere, almost anywhere.

In the past, and in most elections this year, summer would be the slow time. Voters are out of town, busy with kids, and generally not focused on politics. Normally, this would be the time that campaigns build structure, solidify relations with key allies, and prepare for the fall sprint to the finish.

Candidates in our statewide elections this year have not been able to take a summer break. Campaigns that used to start in September, or maybe in August, are now in full swing.

Unfortunately, candidates in our statewide elections this year have not been able to take a summer break. Campaigns that used to start in September, or maybe in August, are now in full swing. Since the May GOP nominating convention (to the June 30 reporting deadline), the GOP candidate for governor, Glenn Youngkin, has already loaned his campaign another $7 million (above the $5 million of his own money he loaned the campaign to get himself nominated).

During this period, both major-party candidates have been spending heavily. Youngkin was spending to present himself as an ordinary guy who cares about education and jobs. McAuliffe spent to win the nomination in the June Democratic primary. Youngkin has continued a heavy schedule of TV ads. McAuliffe stopped spending on TV after his nomination. As of July 1, McAuliffe had more than three times as much cash on hand ($9 v. $2.8 million).

      (in millions)

Youngkin

McAuliffe

Broadcast Media

$2.0

$2.7

Social Media

3.0

1.0

Staff/Consultants

 3.0

 0.8

Direct Mail

 0.2

 0.5

       Total

$8.2

$5.0

The raw numbers at this point don’t mean much. Both candidates and their parties will spend heavily in Virginia, based on the idea that results here will prefigure the national midterm elections in 2022. The media will write about Virginia because it is the best story going this year (the governor’s race in New Jersey does not seem very competitive). Both tickets will compete in all parts of the Commonwealth.

Youngkin’s spending (of both time and money) this early in the cycle is significant. His activity has pushed his ticket mates out onto the trail much sooner than usual. That has scrambled Democratic candidates’ schedules, setting up events and seeking media this month that would otherwise take place in the fall.

Nonetheless, Youngkin’s spending (of both time and money) this early in the cycle is significant. His activity has pushed his ticket mates out onto the trail much sooner than usual. That has scrambled Democratic candidates’ schedules, setting up events and seeking media this month that would otherwise take place in the fall. Accordingly, the media, which would also be on summer vacation, have begun publishing biographical background pieces on candidates now, rather than two months from now.

Is this an aberration or the ‘new normal’?

It certainly looks to me like the new normal. The 24/7 news cycle has supported the year-round election cycle. The Internet has created eternal fundraising. For comparison, in 1976 a fundraiser for Jimmy Carter shocked the political world by showing that a three-page fundraising letter could produce more donations than a four page one. In 1980, that same fundraiser, working for Ted Kennedy, showed that he could drive the interval between donations (from an individual donor) to under three weeks. Those accomplishments are laughable today. Now, I get up to ten e-requests for support from the same candidate in a single day.

The era of lazy political summers is a thing of the past.

Not every year will have two energetic, well-funded candidates ready to sweat publicly in Virginia’s heat and humidity. Yet, I think the era of lazy political summers is a thing of the past. For those of us who watch and support these exercises, it means that we don’t get any rest either.

99 days to the election. Straight out. No days off.

 

 

 



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