Now that the Shreveport election for mayor and council members is less than 60 days away, the local campaigns should become more foreground to Shreveport voters.
Schools have been back in session for several weeks and the last major summer holiday has passed. Between now and the November 6 primary the only big red letter event on most refrigerator calendars is Halloween.
So, where do the campaigns go from here.?
Numerous mayoral forums have been conducted. A candidate forum for District B and C candidates drew large crowds. A forum for districts D has been scheduled and another forum for District B is in the planning stages.
The overall impact of candidate forums is an unknown.
Many times the audiences have more candidate supporters than non-committed voters. Often the candidates began to sound like “parrots” as they basically repeat what others have said. And with council forums, the candidates sometimes misunderstand their role as a council person and the limitations of the position versus the mayor.
The overriding goal of each candidate is to successfully “sell “ themselves to citizens who will actually go vote. Pep rally type meetings do not necessarily translate into votes. And all the “attaboys” in the world are meaningless unless the vote totals push the candidate over the top.
Walking streets and putting out yard signs has always been the model for council races. Unfortunately, door to door meetings are often not that successful. Who really likes to be interrupted at dinner, during a great TV show or while bathing the kids to visit with a stranger at the door with a campaign push card?
Mailings of flyers is also a standard practice of candidates. How much of the mail is actually read is a big unknown, much less the ultimate impact on how a person votes. But it’s the practice.
Media advertising is expensive and it is difficult to direct to council races, much less to measure its impact. With a mayor’s race its almost necessary because of the size of the city as well as campaign credibility to voters. The impact on the actual vote is still an unresolved science.
The big unknown is the impact of social media. For good or bad, social media is the “news source” for large numbers of people. And the veracity of what is posted is often subject to serious questioning. The ability of individuals to instantly post their most casual thoughts that are broadcast to a large audience is a communication reality that often has unintended consequences.
The most perplexing question that candidates always struggle with is what motivates voters in their selection process. Is it party affiliation, sex, and/or race? How about age? Or how many kids the candidate does or does not have? Is it important if a candidate owns a home or if he/she was actually born in Shreveport?
Campaign endorsements are also a standard in local elections. They can be a blessing or a curse, depending on who a voter likes/dislikes, knows or does not want to know. And do they imply that a candidate will be beholden to those who have endorsed?
The same thinking follows the examination of campaign finance reports that are due on October 6. It always makes for good hot stove talk to review the names and amounts of contributors to each candidate. It’s even more political gossip fodder when the same names appear on the donor lists for opposing candidates, especially if the donation amounts differ.
For political junkies, Shreveport’s elections make for good sport to watch, speculate about and even participate in as an active candidate supporter. Labor Day has always been the real beginning of the mayor and candidate races and this year is no different. One can expect the major candidates to ramp up campaigning that will escalate in the days between now and the November 6 primarily.
(This article was published in The Inquisitor on Thursday, September 6, 2018)