Politics & Policy

The Tracker Factor

The Las Vegas Sun has a story on camera-toting trackers and the campaign staffers who try to thwart them. It’s all fun and games ‘til someone loses an election, as presumed Senate nominee Sue Lowden found out this spring during the now infamous Chickengate.

Both Nevada state parties have an official tracker whose primary mission is to catch the opponent saying something exploitable and possibly game-changing. Political events often attract citizen-journalists and freelancers who do the same.

“Politics has become such a high stakes endeavor that an entire industry of amateur videographers has developed simply to catch candidates at their worst,” political consultant Ryan Erwin told Battle ‘10. “Normally the trackers are kids fresh out of school so you get a wide variety, from ultra-aggressive and rude to very polite.”

Sharron Angle, whose record reflects a host of rather impolitic remarks, has been trying to find a balance between public and private appearances after taking post-primary criticism for limited face time with the press. She has been more accessible–pleasing to the press but rendering her more vulnerable to the gotcha game–in recent weeks.

Reid is a bit harder to corner because his events are often private or just unannounced. Flying under the radar may seem atypical behavior for a U.S. Senator in the midst of a heated campaign, but in light of the tracker factor, Team Reid is smart to limit public appearances by their own gaffe-prone candidate.

Democrats recently launched a new national project to find the “macaca moment” during this year’s election cycle. The effort includes an online clearinghouse of audio and video collected from campaign appearances by Republicans.

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