In 2014, Louisiana Congressman Bill Cassidy challenged three-term Democratic incumbent Senator Mary Landrieu. FLA needed to accomplish multiple goals – keep Landrieu under 50% in Louisiana’s unique Jungle Primary system, protect Cassidy’s right flank from a Tea Party candidate, and get Cassidy in position to win the runoff – all while being heavily outspent by Landrieu and from the Tea Party opposition.
FLA conducted extensive quantitative research to identify the most effective positive messages to build Cassidy’s name ID statewide and the best ways to highlight Landrieu’s weaknesses to Louisiana voters. It was determined there were successful issue and personal contrasts that could be raised to accomplish multiple goals at once. Cassidy, a medical doctor & not a career politician, was a vocal Obamacare critic, while Landrieu provided the deciding vote for Obamacare and demonstrated she had lost connection with Louisiana values due to her extended time in Washington DC.
Complicating matters, there were eight candidates in total on the ballot, one of whom, Col. Rob Maness (R), ran a well-funded campaign as a Tea Party Republican. Cassidy needed to appeal to middle of the road voters who had elected Landrieu on three previous occasions to prevent her from winning a majority, while making sure he was still the conservative alternative to Landrieu. FLA’s research identified issues such as Obamacare repeal and securing the border which appealed to conservative Republicans without turning off conservative Democrats, moderate Republicans, and Independents needed for victory.
On Election Day, Cassidy finished within a point of the incumbent in the jungle primary despite Landrieu outspending Cassidy by more than 2:1 – 42%-41%, with Maness a distant third at 14%. Cassidy was able to capitalize on his position in the runoff, highlighting the effective contrasts discovered in our research, and won a healthy 56%-44% victory over the three term incumbent in the general election.