When Liberty Northwest, a private insurance company, succeeded in getting its initiative (Measure 38) to abolish the State Accident Insurance Fund (SAIF) on the November 2004 state ballot, Oregon businesses faced the threat of losing affordable workers compensation insurance. The Committee for SAIF-Keeping hired CFM to forge the communications that soundly defeated the measure and saved SAIF.
The measure made the ballot during a time when SAIF experienced a series of controversial stories about its leadership and management practices. CFM’s challenge was to convince voters that SAIF is vital to Oregon businesses and the state’s economy. In addition to combating SAIF’s tainted image, the committee was up against a huge insurance conglomerate with deep pockets, willing to spend millions to rid itself of its largest competitor in Oregon. Proponents of Measure 38 set a state record for campaign spending.
Research shaped our strategy by pinpointing issues that most affected voters’ decisions. We knew the proposal could be defeated with clearly defined and targeted messages. We knew we had to use voters’ negative views of big campaign spending. Liberty’s excesses became a lens through which voters saw the campaign. A variety of tools were used including a highly interactive Web site that could be used to react quickly to campaign developments.
CFM convinced every editor in Oregon writing about Measure 38 to editorialize in opposition. Voters defeated Measure 38 by a margin of 61 to 39 percent.