[Note: The observations, impressions and interpretations found here are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of Jeff Johnson, who’s campaign this series is about. This series is about the marketing behind Jeff’s campaign. This is part x in a series. Parts one, two and three can be found here (part one), here (part two), here (part three), here (part four), here (part five), here (part six), here (part seven), here (part eight), here (part nine) and here (part ten).]
The first ten installments of this series about Jeff Johnson’s campaign for Lake Forest Park City Council are all about how we got here, election day.
Jeff and I spent the last few hours before 8pm driving around LFP taking down all of our yard signs. We didn’t really want to say it, but I think we were both fairly confident.
Personally, as the campaign manager for this campaign, my goals were fairly lofty. My first goal, of course, was to win our race. But my second goal was to get more votes than any other candidate – including the winner of the mayoral race. I knew it was unlikely because more people would vote for the mayor than in a council race, but I didn’t think it was completely out of the question.
Jeff ended up hosting an election night party for everyone who wasn’t in the incumbent camp. It was my wife’s birthday, and, admittedly, I wasn’t sure I wanted to be with other people if this didn’t turn out well, so I wasn’t there when the first returns were announced.
At about 8:30, the first results were announced and Jeff was up 54% to 46% (or 1,254 to 1,064 votes). An excellent start to be sure. Three of the four Gov Watch-endorsed candidates were looking good – including Mary Jane Goss, who was beating Dwight Thompson 53% – 47%.
After we celebrated my wife’s birthday, I thought I’d hit refresh a few times on my Mac to see some more results before I headed over to Jeff’s party. At the bottom of the page, I saw the 27%, which I read to be the percent of votes reported in so far. But that was because of my familiarity with how the other 49 states count election results.
I didn’t realize this until later that night, but the way the State of Washington reports election results, that 27% represented the percentage of all eligible voters who’s votes were counted. What they weren’t reporting was how many votes were cast. So we didn’t know what percentage of total votes were counted.
What I also didn’t realize was that there was only going to be one results release for that night. So there I was sitting there hitting refresh on my machine while Jeff’s election night party was already breaking up for the evening.
Apparently, in the State of Washington, there’s only one set of results reported every day – the first at 8:30 that night and the rest at 4:30 every weeknight from Nov 8 through Nov 28. Final results wouldn’t be reported until November 30. So until then, you would never know what percent of all votes were being reported.
If this had happened back in Wisconsin, we would have been getting updated results for two-to-four hours and then we’d know the winner (or that we were going to have a recount). This is why I kept hitting refresh… out of habit.
And in Wisconsin, that percent at the bottom would be percent of precincts reporting.
In short, we would have known that night.
How can we be sitting here in 2011 with 49 states who understand how to receive, count and report votes in one evening, and I live in the one that is unable to learn from the other 49 states.
Once I learned all of this, I was trying to understand what the point of an election night party was. You wouldn’t leave the party knowing any results. There would be no victory speeches. There would be no concessions. There would be nothing but speculation.
What was worse was that we thought we might end up falling on the wrong side of an election result that started one way and ended the other. After our 54% – 46% opening night, Chuck Paulsen would continue to come back night after night until the final results were a close 51% – 49%. Chuck would concede to Jeff before the final results, but we weren’t sure we wouldn’t be giving him back his bottle of champagne.
We started watching and reporting results on Facebook every night for the first week. But we felt like it was just clogging Facebook status’ with news that wasn’t really news. We finally stopped until we had final results before we would write again.
All told, this was a fantastic experience that I will always remember. It was great to be in charge of my product and the marketing strategy development and execution again. And working with Jeff was fantastic. I’m positive he will be one of the best Councilmen we’ve seen in Lake Forest Park.
That’s it for the series. Thanks to all who took the time to read it. I hope you all got something out of this. If nothing else, it’ll serve as a nice scrapbook for the win.
We’ll see if I get another chance to run a campaign or if I just decide to retire from it with a record of 1-0.
– My name is Jon Friesch, and I’m excited to have directed and won my first campaign.