As we head down the stretch, we need to evaluate the three elements of a campaign which matter most, polls, money, and message.
In an April 3rd poll the numbers showed Fletcher with a 9 point lead over Northup.
Polling data released early this week shows that Fletcher has widened the gap between himself and Northup gaining 3 points to establish a 12 point lead. Not only that, but he is safely above the 40% line which would force a run off election.
Looking at the numbers, it would appear that Northup has siphoned off some of Harper's support while Fletcher probably garnered his boost from the undecided category. Leading me to believe that Fletcher's positive campaign has been incredibly effective at winning over the undecided voters. In doing so, he has made it very difficult for Northup to force a run off election. Which at this point, seems to be her only real chance of winning the nomination.
The All Important Dollar
The money numbers came in last week for the final election push and the money difference was huge in favor of Fletcher. So far in the primary season Fletcher has raised almost $3 million dollars and has already spent over $2 million so far. He used it to push his positive message and solidify his lead early in the race. I know I have received at least 4 mailers from him while I have gotten none from Northup.
Northup on the other hand appears to have had some difficulty raising money. Especially outside of her home, Jefferson County. In fact she has only raised half of the money Fletcher has, and a third of it came from a $500,000 personal loan she made to the campaign. Making me to believe that there was never this groundswell of support for "Not Fletcher" that some in the party leadership tried to sell everyone.
So heading down the stretch Fletcher and Northup have about $1 million dollars to spend on advertising. Which means that neither will have financial troubles during the final push. At the same time, that probably means that the polls won't move much from where they currently are.
Northup's Negative Attacks
Northup continues to ignore Regean's 11 commandment, by continuing to blister Fletcher at every turn. She has blasted him for the AMT (Which her running mate helped pushed through the state house) . She blasted him for being a failure at education (even though the Jefferson County NEA endorsed Fletcher). She blasted him for not paying back the state for "political" trips (Even though the law allows for it. Fletcher has decided to avoid the appearance of impropriety by reimbursing the state for half of the costs). Her latest ad blasts him for the hiring scandal.
I understand her only way to gain is to drive up Fletcher's negatives, but didn't she learn anything from her last congressional race? You can only go negative for so long before it begins to hurt yourself more than your opponent. I believe that Northup's campaign has gone beyond the pale. I doubt the Democrats will attack Fletcher with such ferocity. I would be amused to watch Henry, Lunsford, or Beshear launch an "ethics" attack against the governor. Especially since most where involved in administrations or companies that had more than a few ethical problems.
Fletcher Remains Positive
Throughout the campaign Fletcher has continued to stay on message talking up what he perceives as his "accomplishments" in office. In fact he has been so focused on his message that he is ignoring any charges leveled by his opponents. The only thing his team will say about his opponents "this is just another desperate attempt by so and so". As I have said before, this is a primary that has two starkly contrasting styles of campaigning. It will be interesting to see which wins out on May 22nd.
But at the end of the day, I believe this is Fletcher's primary to lose. He has a nice lead in the polls, more than enough money for the stretch run, and a message that is upbeat and positive. As long as he stays on message and doesn't get into a mud slinging competition with Northup, he should win the primary easily.