Mid-summer is here, and we are about to go into the tabiya period of elections.
Let me explain…
Long before I followed politics I played tournament chess. Tabiya is an Arabic word that at one time was used to refer to the beginning positions of the chess pieces. As openings became better analyzed and for longer sequences of moves, tabiya is used to refer to a position several moves into an opening that reflects known analysis and marked the point where the original game actually begins. In some openings, the tabiya might be reached in five moves…in others it might be closer to 20.
With the first polls on the Virginia Senate race being released, and the first general election period finance reports coming due soon, we are encountering certain acts that are preordained and so predictable as to constitute political Tabaiyas.
The first tabiya occurs in polling, and the moves are as follow: A poll is released. If the results are in your favor, you applaud the veracity of the poll and its process and claim it shows magnificent progress by your campaign. If it does not go in your favor, you attack the methodology, the pollster, or say that if it was accurate it was taken during a time period that was unrepresentative or was taken before some big media buy, major event, etc., that was so important as to render the poll results moot.
The polling tabiya can be executed with equal skill by either incumbent or challenger. The second tabiya is in fundraising, and is more likely to be used by the challenger. The finance reports come in, and one side has raised more than the other. If candidate A has raised more than candidate B overall, but B led for the period-no matter how small the difference-candidate B will trumpet this as proof of the growing velocity of their campaign. If candidate A has raised more money overall than candidate B, and has out raised candidate B during the time period, candidate B will spin the result as simply the logical outcome of some strength candidate A has (incumbency, personal wealth, etc.) and say the results in now way reflect the mood of the district.
Next is the statistical tabiya, and is typically executed by challengers. The challenger finds some statistical “fact”, and claims it is symptomatic of some greater ill. My favorite one is where a challenger to a long time incumbent claims said incumbent is in the pocket of an industry, proof of which is in the incumbent taking x $$ from said industry in campaign donations. This tabiya is the most misleading, because it is not put in a frame of reference. Example: Challenger says incumbent-a four term senator-is in the pocket of the Coal operators because they have accepted $100,000 from said industry. This type of claim will be seen widely throughout the summer and fall. However, it fails to note the following:
*What % this sum reflects of the total donations the incumbent has received
*What % this sum reflects of the total donations made by the industry
*How the challenger arrived at that sum
Instead, it is just a bald claim without frame of reference. In fact, the intrepid challenger can make multiple claims on the same donation.
Example: The CEO of Dixie Trucking donates $2000.00 to Long Term Incumbent. Dixie Trucking hauls coal. It is also hauls poultry and textiles, although presumably not in the same run. It is not unusual in the statistical tabiya for the challenger will make charges, and lump that single $2K contribution into multiple claims that the incumbent is alternately in the pocket of the coal industry, the poultry industry, the trucking industry, and the textile industry.
So watch and enjoy for…
• The polling tabiya…
• The fundraising tabiya…
• The statistical tabiya…
All coming soon to a political campaign in your neighborhood!