What happened? What led to his winning?
Quite a few different thing mixed together to form the vote soup that put him into office.
A Tsunami of Discontent
Of course, the most widely attributed factor was a national GOP fatigue. This was brought on my many things. The culture of corruption hyped by Nancy and the Dems did its work and I would not say the GOP played the Dem scripted part but no doubt the likes of Foley lent credence to the charges. The DeLay case may have done so too but I would say Tom DeLay is a victim along the lines of the Duke LaCrosse player. He'll have his day in court. The Dems played it very skillfully.
Other points are lack of progress on immigration and in Iraq. Plus every now and then the independent voter gets change in their mind. Never mind asking them what needs change its just change for change's sake.
Don't whine about the MSM. We have proven we can win despite their best efforts.
Dissatisfied & Split Republican Voters
Many of the people I knew who supported John Gard did not do so enthusiastically. John's record in the State Assembly did not show a lot of promise. Looking for progress on TABOR and tax relief we did not find it. Looking for spending restraint we did not find it.
The Honesty Tour which of course gave the impression Terri thought John dishonest did not help. What were her supporters going to do? Vote for a person they spent months trying convince Eighth district voters was dishonest? In fact, quite a few of Terri's supporters went on to work for Steve Kagen's campaign.
Of course, the RPW & RNC did not help the situation by overlooking its own rules to favor John Gard. From the start, I viewed Terri's chances as a long shot. Still, one of the reasons we have primaries is to help strengthen our individual candidates, their staffs, and to give those conservatives who are a part of our grass-roots more of a say. Remember, it is them ultimately we need on our side. The executive is a top-down organization, congress is a bottom-up organization.
I am Not a Democrat, Only Goes So Far
Even in a right-leaning district you need to say more than I am not a Democrat. To be fair, I paid about 0 attention to the advertisements as I was in the Madison area for most of the race (for work) and in any event I watch DirectV's mostly The History Channel, FNC, and sports programming so I missed the deluge of advertisements. Like I need advertising to motivate me, anyway. Any positive TV presentation's to the voters were washed out by the negative ads.
Just like '00, '02, and '04 candidates have to present something about them as well. John Kerry's only attributes were he served in Vietnam and wasn't President Bush.
We had an operative in town in '02 to help with the Scott McCallum campaign. People complained about the negative advertising in that campaign. She told us that negative advertising works, expect more of it. Well, it did not then and did not now.
Negative campaigning will never and should never go away. However, we need to emphasize a candidate's pros over the opponent's negatives.