Like many political watchers, I have been fascinated by this year’s mid-term elections in the United States. Four years ago during the last mid-term elections, I was enrolled in Professor Greg Anderson‘s American Politics course at the University of Alberta. As the course took place during the mid-term election year, our term project was to follow and write a report on one of the election races and the contest that I covered was the Missouri Senate race. The contest saw Democrat Claire McCaskill unseat Republican Senator Jim Talent in a year that saw a general swing against the Republicans towards the Democrats. In Missouri, McCaskill was given a boost when actor and stem-cell research advocate Michael J. Fox endorsed her campaign (and then was lambasted by conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh – a move which obviously backfired on Mr. Limbaugh).
Four year’s later, it appears that the Republicans have an edge in these mid-term elections. While I have not paid as much attention to the contests as I did four years ago, one race that caught my eye is the California Gubernatorial election. In the race to replace outgoing Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a clever spoof campaign has emerged in reaction to billionaire Republican candidate Meg Whitman. After spending over $80 million of her own money on her campaign for the Republican nomination, the former eBay CEO turned her attention to the California Nurses Association. After the CNA endorsed Democratic rival Jerry Brown, the Republican candidate launched a campaign to undermine the Union through phone calls and mailers attacking the union’s leadership. What was the union’s responses to Ms. Whitman? “Queen Meg.”
It is pretty clever when you think that at its most basic, all this type of campaign requires is an actor, a videographer, a good sense of humour, and a YouTube account. The campaign has also avoided an expensive design costs by having their URL point to a Facebook Page, rather than a website.
Of course, it is yet to be seen whether the “Queen Meg” campaign will lead to Ms. Whitman’s defeat. The latest CNN poll had Ms. Whitman at 48% to Mr. Brown’s 46% (with a 3.5% margin of error). Regardless of the election results, it has certainly been an entertaining piece of online political theatre.