Monday, March 20, 2006

How To Listen At the Upcoming Forums

Before the primary election in February I posted James Wigderson's list of things to watch for when attending a candidate forum or debate. With tonight's Mayoral Forum at JC McKenna and the upcoming virtual candidate summit at the Eager Free Library for all Evansville candidates I thought it a good time to revisit them.

With races for Sheriff, Assembly and County Judge coming up you can expect to see them again.

James is from Waukesha so some of his references are local. When you read "Bill Yorth" you should substitute "Tammy Pomplun" or "Gina Duwe." Otherwise, just go. Ask questions when invited. Listen to the answers. Really listen.

It may make your deicision easier. James' list:

  1. Do they have a command of the issues? If they don't have a basic understanding of the issues here, then they probably don't when they go door-to-door or hit donors up for money or push for support in front of other audiences.

  2. Do they have a particular theme a voter can latch onto? Specific issues come and go. Will the people in the audience say to themselves, "liberal, conservative, weirdo, incompetent, leader, taxes" etc. Poltical campaigns are almost like a word association game at a party. Voters like to have a label on someone before they vote. Another way to look at it, every good song has a "hook" that gets people to want to hear it again. So do candidates.

  3. Does the candidate tend to ramble on into completely unrelated topics in an incoherent manner? Their campaign will, too, and you can put that person down as a loser.

  4. Did the candidate say something stupid? If you see Waukesha Freeman editor Bill Yorth walk out of the room cell phone in hand right after your candidate said something, that's not a good sign. That's the front page being re-written.

  5. Do they sound like they are going to win, or that they can win? It's an intangible, a gut feeling. Some candidates have it, some don't. Of course, having a strong campaign organization behind you tends to fuel a candidate's confidence. A candidate who is worried too much about what is going on in the campaign office is one that won't look well at a candidate forum.

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