The ground game in politics is oh-so-very important, and Dan Seals seems to be falling behind to Mark Kirk on a rather important part of that: the "Letter to the Editor" (LTE) war.
Let's not kid ourselves. The majority of good LTEs don't just happen on their own. A good campaign has a well-run LTE program as part of one of its primary strategic missions. You have to motivate your supporters to get out there and write letters to newspapers, which can be a difficult thing. Most people are busy, most don't like to write or don't feel they are good writers, and many are reluctant to sign their name to something that is going to get published. A good LTE doesn't just say, vote for this guy or that one because he's nice (although that's what a lot of Seals letters sound like). Thus, one of the challenges is to get people to pen their thoughts on why their guy (or gal) is better, and back it up with some logic and facts.
I don't have any official statistics (yet), but I read four newspapers every morning (Trib, Herald, News-Sun, WSJ) and get Google Alerts for both Dan Seals and Mark Kirk. From my informal count, Seals is getting crushed in the LTE war, in both number and qualiity of the letters, in my opinion.
As just a sampling, in the Daily Herald we have seen letters on Kirk's support of veterans, Kirk's ability to promote change, Kirk's leadership, and his work on Internet safety. We have also seen letters critical of Seals' residency in the 9th District, and Seals' recent "rubber stamp" ad against Mark Kirk.
At the same time, the pro-Seals letters are rare and unpersuasive, such as this one that basically says, vote for Seals if you like Barack Obama so Obama has help in Congress. That's not something that really appeals to an independent-minded voter, such as we have here in IL-10.
Not only does the LTE battle reflect well on Kirk's organization, it reflects well on the level and quality of his support, and the underlying merit of why we must send Mark Kirk back to Congress. Dan, better get your folks writing, if you want to try to make this race even as close as it was in 2006.