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I’ve been in politics longer than Clay Aiken has been alive (38 years vs. 35), but he took me to school this week.
Everything I’ve learned tells me that if (A) you’re massively outspent by your opponent and (B) he runs three or four ads to your one and (C) one of those is a negative attack ad that you can’t afford to answer, then (QED) you lose.
But Aiken won. (No, the final count isn’t done. But it’s over.)
How? Well, some people say it’s just name recognition and personal popularity. Or maybe the Colbert Bump. Or all the Clay fans.
But there may be something else here – and a lesson for us all.
A couple of analysts have said the campaign relied solely on name recognition. Not true. In the final weeks, short of money, the campaign had one big asset: Clay Aiken and his voice.
Not his singing voice. But a voice that showed he knew the issues and the people in his district.  A voice that is distinctly different from the stale, bitter rhetoric of other politicians. And, above all, a positive voice in a negative din. Amid the ugly glut of attack ads in the final days, you heard one positive voice: Clay Aiken’s.
He also talked to people all over the district. He went on Colbert and MSNBC (true, venues that weren’t available to other politicians). He had a microphone, and he used his voice.
And there was one other thing: In an anti-politics age, Aiken was the anti-politician.
Don’t underestimate him again. I sure won’t.


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3 comments on “Aiken for the Win

  1. Anonymous says:

    I predicted this win before it ever happened. It has nothing to do with issues. It has nothing to do with anything other than he is Clay Aiken. Everything else is liberal spin. We know now even before Hillary announces that she will be said to be the smartest woman in the world. Is that true? No way. The national media has just got wound up. The big bucks on all the free media will start now for the Clayster. They will pretend at first it’s all about an American Idol contestant running for national office, but it is actually about the fact that he is a Democrat. If he were Bill Smith an American Idol candidate who was Republican, the media could care less. The media will be campaign headquartes for all Democratic candidates. There will be plenty of uninformed voters, just like the uninformed Clay Aiken to cast their uninformed votes.

  2. Anonymous says:

    It is also important to note who his opponent was. There is still a LOT of anti-1% sentiment out there as the economy is no better for those of us not in that category, and Crisco self-financing certainly didn’t help him at all. Aiken will have to run a different race against Ellmers because of that, but maybe just maybe.

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