#NCSEN: Name Confusion, Ballot hijinks, funky polls, and The Alex Bradshaw juggernaut

S2.04-Alex-Bradshaw-246x300Who IS Alex Bradshaw?  Politicos from Murphy to Manteo are asking this question.  He hasn’t been appearing at candidate forums.  He doesn’t appear to have a formal campaign organization.  I can’t find a web site.  Though, he does have a Facebook page and a couple of online third party profiles. 

Despite his low profile, Bradshaw is performing relatively well in the polls for the GOP primary.  PPP’s March survey had Bradshaw pulling down 6 percent of the vote — just ONE percent behind the high-profile, professionally-managed campaign of Charlotte pastor Mark Harris. He pulls 4 percent in WRAL’s March 20 poll — just TWO points behind Harris.  He draws 2 percent in Civitas’ March 24 poll to Harris’ NINE percent.   (PPP’s margin-of-error was in the 2 to 3 percent range, while WRAL and Civitas had an MOE in the 5 percent range.)ncgop

One recent poll showed Bradshaw polling at TWELVE percent just in western North Carolina.

One particular elected official —  a big fan of our site who spends a good chunk of time in Raleigh — was talking with me recently about Bradshaw and the primary:

“How is this guy doing this?  He doesn’t appear to ever leave little Icard.  I talked to some party people from his neck of the woods, and most all of them have never heard of him.”

Another politico and I came to a common conclusion about this phenomenon: name confusion. (Brannon. Bradshaw. Brannon. Bradshaw.)

It’s an old political trick to stick someone in a race who has a name similar to your opponent’s name.  Let’s say your opponent’s name is Smythe.  You could find someone else named SMITH to file for the same race.  Your candidate’s name is likely to appear just above your opponent’s name — very likely to make mischief and reap plenty of confusion among low-info voters and senior citizens who may be inclined to vote for your main opponent (Smythe).  I’ve seen this done in several elections — accomplishing its mission in most cases. 

To add to the conspiracy theory — check out this sample ballot .  This year, candidates are to be listed in reverse alphabetical order.  Thom Tillis’ name gets put at the top of the list.  Bradshaw, Brannon, and Alexander are at the end of the candidate list.  The sample ballot has everyone in proper reverse alphabetical order — except Brannon and Bradshaw.  Bradshaw appears right before Brannon. (His name should be just below Brannon’s, between Brannon and Alexander.)

I’ve encountered many voters who screw up Brannon’s last name — calling him everything from Braddock, Bryan, Brewer to even Bradshaw. I’ve even seen drive-bys at smaller media outlets screwing up Brannon’s last name. 

Then, again, Bradshaw may have thought this idea up all on his own.  But it IS very likely that a lot of his polling has its origins in people confusing him with Greg Brannon.

20 thoughts on “#NCSEN: Name Confusion, Ballot hijinks, funky polls, and The Alex Bradshaw juggernaut

  1. Could well be the case that this was an intentional plant. I heard it from the horse’s mouth that a Republican who has run for office previously whose first name is Greg was called by the Tillis campaign and asked to file for US Senate. He declined.

  2. Leave it to the NCSBOE to create a rule for reverse alphabetical order as follows — take the first letters of the name that are the same, THEN take the next letter that isn’t the same and put it in alphabetical order!

    That’s according to the rule given to me by my county BOE.

    The rule does place “Bradshaw” before “Brannon” because the fourth letter in “Bradshaw” is a “d” which comes before the “n” in “Brannon.”

    Only SBOE bureaucrats would come up with a rule like that. To me reverse alphabetical order means EVERY letter in the name in reverse order!

    1. I am curious as to when that rule was made. The current SBOE majority are the very worst sort of establishment GOP hacks who have their knives out for the grassroots and for conservatives in the GOP, but seem to coddle Democrats, and are totally accomodating to the GOP establishment. There have been multiple posts on the deficiencies of that team on this site.

    2. I’ve never seen or heard of reverse alphabetical order done in a way that would lead to that ordering… weird.

  3. Obviously a Karl Rove conspiracy. But you got to hand it to ol’ Karl to think of this many years ago so that the child would be old enough to file for the US Senate. That Karl Rove is something! How could he have known all those years ago to have the baby named Bradshaw. The man may not be a genius but he must be right smart.

  4. It never ceases to amaze me how politicians have no shame. Why wasn’t voter ID started in 2014? Why the delay?

  5. Brannon should make a campaign joke ad out of this…”yeah I’m the other Bradshaw”. LOL.

  6. Yes, I really exist!

    To clear up one point, my decision to run was my own, and before my filing, Thom Tillis and his staff had no more idea who I was than those “politicos from Murphy to Manteo.” But you don’t just have to take my word for it. Your speculation, that I’m a Tillis plant intended to shave a few points off of Brannon through name confusion, doesn’t really make sense if you give it a bit more thought.

    Generally speaking, adding more candidates to a race makes it less likely that any one of them will be able to reach 40%. Yet Tillis’ hope is to score a first round win and avoid a runoff. Earlier, you theorized that the Establishment had bamboozled Mark Harris into entering the race in order to split the anti-Tillis, anti-Establishment, hard-right vote, allowing Tillis to win outright with a plurality. That may have sounded plausible when there were only a handful of candidates; now that Harris and a stronger-than-expected Heather Grant and several other candidates are already splitting that vote, however, the gain from bringing in another candidate is nil compared to the risk.

    Suppose the Tillis campaign had found some sap that they believed would not increase the size of the electorate (which would dilute Tillis’ percentage), and would take votes away from an opponent while not taking any votes away from Tillis. This sap still wouldn’t do anything to help Tillis avoid a runoff! Tillis would still be getting the same slice of the pie, and what matters is whether his slice is greater or less than 40%, not how the rest of the pie is cut up.

    In order to help Tillis cross the runoff threshold, the sap would have to either increase the number of Tillis voters, or decrease the number of non-Tillis voters. It’s hard to see how a new candidate would do the former. As for the latter, that’s unlikely as well. Perhaps you think that there will be some people in the polling booth who think, “Oh, no! I remember that the guy I was going to vote for had a last name that started with “Bra-,” but there are two candidates whose names start with that! I guess I’ll have to skip voting for the Senate!” But do you think that there could be enough such people that the Tillis campaign would risk their tactic backfiring, and the sap bringing more people to the polls (friends and family, if no one else) or taking some votes from Tillis?

    There are some other points in the article that I’ll email the Daily Haymaker about later.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Alex, and you make very good points all around. I had hoped in the lengthy comment you would shed some light on why you’re running for US Senate, which remains a bit of a mystery. In any case, Craven County GOP is sponsoring a Candidate Forum on April 19 in New Bern, let our Chair know ASAP if you can come!

      1. There was another event I was hoping to attend on April 19, but it looks like I probably won’t be able to go to it. In that case, I would attend the forum.

        There is a link to my website in my name (indicated by the dotted lines) which I was hoping people would use to find more information. That website is http://bradshaw4nc.com. My post was already pretty long, dealing with the “Tillis plant” theory, and I didn’t want to make it a treatise.

    2. If this guy is not campaigning elsewhere, I wonder why he suddenly turns up here, or if it is someone else using that name? It also strikes me that if this was a real candidate, he would be more interested in pushing his own message and his own candidacy, not defending another candidate. Very strange! He does not push his own candidacy at all.

      1. I perceived that post as defending myself against the theory that my candidacy is illegitimate, not as defending Tillis. If you want to know what I think of Tillis, see http://bradshaw4nc.com/issues/candidates.html.

        As for pushing my message, there was a link to my website in my name at the top of the post (the site shows that with dotted lines), and I was expecting readers to use that link to find out more about my message.

    3. Then what is the point of your running? Do you just have money to burn? It’s not cheap to file for that office. Ego ? You surely don’t believe that you can win. There are others that signed up at the last minute and I don’t see the point of it at all. Just pick your candidate out of the ones who have been out there for a year doing the heavy lifting and spending their own money and time to get the name recognition they need to actually win. That filing fee money should have been donated to a real candidate. And we wonder why the Democrats win… they don’t eat their own just for the fun of seeing their names on a ballot. It’s happening here in Forsyth County too., People with no shot of winning going against popular candidates and making the Republican party look like a joke. We don’t need to have the time and expense of a run off.. It just gives the Dems and Hagan more time to collect money and not have to spend it. And the people that turn out for a run off election in the middle of July is disgraceful. So let’s hear the compelling reason you decided to enter the race, Alex

      1. If I simply had the same positions as the other candidates, you’d be right that there would be no point in running. But none of the candidates who had entered really reflected my philosophy. On my frontpage, I list about a dozen issues that are important to me where I differ from ALL (or almost all) of the other candidates.

        I haven’t gone into all of these points in detail yet on my site, but for example, a draft of my copyright plan (not linked on my main pages) can be found at http://bradshaw4nc.com/issues/copyright

        As for the runoff issue: apparently you agree that I make a runoff likelier, not less likely. But I’m not afraid of that. This race was probably already headed for a runoff, anyway. And if I turn out to push Tillis into a runoff, providing a second chance to stop him, that’s fine by me.

        I do think that if I am able to get my message out, it would hurt Tillis. First, because my message is different, it would attract some people to the polls who otherwise wouldn’t show up. Also, while I’m no moderate, I don’t feel I need to take a whacked-out position on every issue to prove it, while Tillis does feel a need to pretend to get through the primary. This means I could pull some of those moderate votes from him.

    4. You are correct that your participation in the primary peeling away some confused Brannon voters won’t help Tillis..

      But you and Brant both miss the real usefulness for a candidate like yourself by the Tillis campaign. What skeletons are in YOUR closet? Because the low information voter who hears about them via a last minute push poll will likely associate those skeletons with Brannon.

      Yes, Karl Rove and the Tillis campaign will stoop that low.

      1. Actually, I’ve thought of a more plausible theory: that I’m a Harris plant! If you really think I’d shave points off of Brannon, then it’s the third-place guy who gets a better shot at making it to the runoff!

        Of course, that’s not true, either.

        As for the idea that there are skeletons that will be used in a push poll, it’s not necessary to actually run a candidate for that to work. Find some guy with a similar name who has skeletons, and mention all the bad things about “Greg Brandon.”

        In any event, it doesn’t seem to be true that people are mixing up the names. On the cross-tabs, my “support” (down to 1% in the latest survey!) comes from moderate, non-Tea Party voters.

  7. He is a real candidate, I met him at our Durham County convention.

    He has some interesting viewpoints on copyright laws, ect.

    1. He may be, but would a real candidate have such a fixation on this idea that he is a plant? Wouldn’t a real candidate be talking about why you should vote for him? The person who posts under this name, who may or may not really be Bradshaw seems to be only interested in contesting the intersection between his campaign and Tilli$. If he really is Bradshaw, then his fixation on that issue is a pretty good indication that Brant hit the nail on the head. On the other hand, if it is someone from the TIlli$ campaign, fixated on this, that also speaks volumes on the same issue and in the same way.

      Methinks the lady doth protest too much.

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