Ian Crouch in The New Yorker:
Political strategists on winning campaigns are visited like gurus after an election, with reporters looking to discern secrets of success that might be replicated at scale. In this spirit, in the days after the midterms, the Independent sought out Joe Calvello, the communications director for John Fetterman’s Senate campaign. What should the Democrats do to win more often? “You gotta find someone who’s six foot eight,” Calvello said. “The biggest candidate you can find.”
Calvello’s joke was a fitting capstone to what was the funniest campaign of the midterms. The race between the very tall Fetterman and the television doctor Mehmet Oz had its moments of gravity, but, for much of the summer, it was defined by a one-sided meme war from Fetterman’s team against Oz, painting him as an out-of-touch quack from New Jersey. The most potent weapon in this war was supplied by Oz himself, whose stunt shopping at a local grocery store to highlight inflation became this cycle’s Dukakis in the tank. In a viral clip, Oz first misidentifies the store he’s in, calling it “Wegner’s”—a portmanteau of Wegmans and Redner’s, though perhaps the doctor was thinking of Wegener’s granulomatosis, a rare disease of the blood vessels. Then he starts grabbing vegetables off the shelves. “Guys, that’s twenty dollars for crudités!” he says, taking it all in. “And this doesn’t include the tequila!” More campaign lessons: remind your rich-guy candidate of the perils of words that take accents, and keep him out of the produce section.