1. Three to five days after the primary, aggressively reached out to Sarah Steelman and planned a big rally at G.O.P. Headquarters in southwest Missouri, where supporters of both would have come together, downplayed differences, and readied for the battle ahead. Made sure the shot of the two clenching hands over head got on the front page of the paper and the evening news. (Also told her, you got my back this time, I got you next time. . .)
2. Apologized for the earmarks. Not the Bridge To Nowhere necessarily, but the Lobster Institute, the Hippie Museum, etc. Said Congress got out of control, and it was wrong, but that "I tried to be a good Congressman by getting projects for my district." Then went on to say, the issues ahead are much bigger than earmarks (with Steelman begrudgingly nodding beside him on the stage.)
3. Used Kit Bond and Roy Blunt more -- to rally the faithful. They were his horse in the primary, where have they been since? Why aren't they advocating for him more? Bond is stumping this weekend for Hulshof in Kansas City, but why not in Branson and Nixa? Why did these two G.O.P leaders seem more worried about Hulshof winning the primary than the general?
4. Hit Nixon hard in August. Begun with the contrast ads immediately. Fifteen seconds on "Clean Government" Kenny, Fifteen seconds on Nixon's actions that raise some ethical eyebrows. Make the narrative about trust. Repeat same theme.
5. Not ignore Springfield/Southwest Mo. for more than 7 days at a time. (He did for 27 days!) We know where the voters are in the St. Louis and Kansas City suburbs, but he didn't win this area in the primary. Show up once a week, and get on TV making a clear contrast with Jay.
6. Rolled out his job plan at least two weeks earlier than he did.
7. Said once, as plainly as he could, "Matt Blunt did some good things, he did some things I don't agree with, but I'm not Matt Blunt. I'd be a different Governor, with a very different approach."
8. Find a tracker as aggressive and resilient as Vinay Vaz. Probably not, but who knows, Nixon might've popped if he felt some pressure. Plus, then he's never too comfortable.
9. Used Renee more. She's a rockstar who knows TV.
10. Hulshof's biggest advantage over Steelman was his oratory skills. The guy's a good speaker. Put him in big halls, VFWs, senior centers. Bring in 20 to 40 people. Create a rally atmosphere, with good applause lines. Then walk across the street to the diner, and shake hands until it hurts.
(The above items are a compilation of analysis that didn't solely come from my head. Keep in mind, I'm not so lofty to assume that even if Hulshof did all of these things, he could have won. These are rather a summation and combination of views and opinions I have heard and picked up after speaking to numerous Republicans on the topic over the past week.)