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Series VII. Campaign for Governor General Election, 1978

Scope and Content Notes:

The Thornburgh general election campaign was guided again, as was the primary, by Jay Waldman's campaign plan as presented in his memoranda. This election was especially challenging considering that there was a significant Democratic registration edge. There were two noteworthy candidates, Flaherty and Thornburgh, both from Western Pennsylvania. They each were challenged to make themselves and their platforms known across the state, somewhat easier for Flaherty, who had run statewide previously for U.S. Senate, although unsuccessfully. Much campaign effort focused on the Philadelphia area, and in fact the Thornburgh headquarters moved from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia for the general election. The two Lieutenant Governor candidates, Scranton and Casey, had widely divergent backgrounds, resulting in Scranton's active participation in the campaign, and Casey scarcely any, at the request of Flaherty. Much of the information about the candidates will be found in Series IV. Campaign for Governor Opposition Research. Platform and issues can be found in Series V. Campaign Issues. There are two videos of Thornburgh campaign ads that are housed separately in media storage.

The Flaherty campaign did not conduct as much research by far, and depended instead on Flaherty's charismatic image and mayoral reputation. Polls quietly conducted in the summer by the Thornburgh campaign placed its candidate 32 points behind Flaherty, a stunning fact that was successfully kept secret. In the fall, Thornburgh moved closer and by mid October was "merely" 12-15 points behind, a fact that the campaign vigorously declared "momentum." There were two major debates in the fall that were reported in the news to favor Thornburgh. Thornburgh's issues registered with voters and Flaherty's efforts to stay aloof from the tarnished reputation of the then Governor Shapp administration Democrats were unsuccessful. When election night came, Thornburgh was declared the victor by Walter Cronkite at 8:30 PM, joined by the other networks an hour later. There is significant additional information about this election in the Dick Thornburgh Papers. This series is further divided into four subseries: Memoranda and Notes, Fundraising, Campaign in Progress, and Polls. The material in this series all dates from the election in 1978.

Subseries 1. Memoranda and Notes, 1978

Scope and Content Notes:

Waldman’s memos spell out the campaign in remarkable detail, and were scrupulously followed. There were many who considered him inexperienced and that he would be unsuccessful. However, Waldman proved them wrong with the successful campaign. In addition to Waldman’s memos, there are memoranda from Thornburgh and others. The campaign demands on candidate Thornburgh resulted in more verbal interactions from him and fewer memoranda. The Murray Dickman memos reflect the all-important field organization activity. The memos all date from 1978.

Folder 19 Memoranda from Jay Waldman, 1978
Folder 20 Correspondence to/from Jay Waldman, 1978
Folder 21 Waldman handwritten campaign notes, 1978
Folder 22 Memoranda and correspondence to/from Dick Thornburgh, 1978
Folder 23 Campaign memoranda from Murray Dickman, 1978
Folder 24 Memoranda and campaign correspondence, 1978

Subseries 2. Fundraising, 1978

Scope and Content Notes:

Fundraising is an unavoidable and challenging process for any campaign, which was made even more difficult being that Thornburgh came from western Pennsylvania. Moving the campaign headquarters to Philadelphia was helpful, combined with effective and diligent fundraising leadership. The fact of Thornburgh’s being so far behind in the summer fortunately did not become public knowledge. The point spread would have drastically and adversely affected fundraising had it been known. The fundraising material dates from 1978.

Folder 25 General election finance plan, June 6, 1978
Folder 26 Finance committee agendas, correspondence, memos, May–October 1978
Folder 27 Event invitations, June-October 1978
Folder 28 Events, attendees, June-October 1978
Folder 29 Correspondence, September-October 1978
Folder 30 Donors, September-October 1978

Subseries 3. Campaign in Progress, 1978

Scope and Content Notes:

These campaign files contain topics that are illustrative of the multiple issues and challenges all campaigns address. The debate assessments and overwhelming favorable endorsements are of note. The field staff was active and their reports are very detailed. Similar topics are available in depth in the Dick Thornburgh Papers. All of the campaign in progress material dates from 1978.

Folder 31 Articles, by or about, 1978
Folder 32 Brochures, 1978
Folder 33 Consultants, Teeter, and Mahe, 1978
Folder 34 County plans, Beaver, Burks, and Chester, 1978
Folder 35 County plans, Crawford, Erie, and Fayette, 1978
Folder 36 County plans, Clarion, Jefferson, and Potter, 1978
Folder 37 County plans, Northumberland, Schuylkill, Westmoreland, and Venango, 1978
Folder 38 County plans (Northwest), Elk, Forest, McKean, and Warren, 1978
Folder 39 Debate, sponsored by League of Women Voters, October 1978
Folder 40 Election Results, November 1978
Folder 41 Endorsements, 1978
Folder 42 Field Reports, May-June 1978
Folder 43 Field Reports, July 1978
Folder 44 Field Reports, August 1978
Folder 45 Field Reports, September 1978
Folder 46 Field Reports, October 1978

Box 14
Folder 1 GOP, 1978
Folder 2 Media, monitoring reports, 1978
Folder 3 Media, press kit, 1978
Folder 4 Media, radio actualities, schedules, drafts, 1978
Folder 5 Media consultant, Garth, cancelled, July, 1978
Folder 6 Media consultant, Deardourff, draft agreement, 1978
Folder 7 News Releases, June 9-September 12, 1978
Folder 8 News Releases, September 14-November 5, 1978
Folder 9 Polls, July, October 1978
Folder 10 Schedules, DT long-range, July-October 1978
Folder 11 Schedules, DT daily, May-November 1978
Folder 12 Schedules, WWS long-range, September-October 1978
Folder 13 Schedules, WWS daily, July-November 1978
Folder 14 Speeches, 1978
Folder 15 Staff, June-November 1978
Folder 16 Surrogate speakers, 1978
Folder 17 Volunteer activity, 1978

Subseries 4. Polls, 1978

Scope and Content Notes:

Throughout the campaign, but especially in the summer months, the need to carefully monitor progress was essential. As Thornburgh was not well known across the state and now was opposed by Flaherty, who had previously campaigned statewide and who also had the decided advantage of far greater Democratic voter registration, meticulous polling was vital. Market Opinion Research (MOR), presented detailed information at a critical time, and in fact was used during the years of Thornburgh’s governorship as well. It was during the summer that the alarming realization that Thornburgh was 30 points behind became known within the campaign. Fortunately, however, the campaign staff successfully kept this under wraps so that the essential fundraising would not be affected. Indeed as the campaign neared its end, the 15-point gap was hailed as momentum in early October, although that in itself was worrisome. These August polls and surveys provided significant guidance at a pivotal time in the campaign itself and related to fundraising. The polls material all dates from 1978.

Folder 18 PA Voting Analysis, August 1978
Folder 19 PA Statewide Analysis, August 1978
Folder 20 Binder, PA Statewide Study, Data, August 1978