Here in Texas, State legislator Al Edwards lost the Democratic primary this week. In the run-up to the primary election, his postcard mailers touted his Democrat credentials but often included messages about not repeating the same mistake. I do not know the history around him and his primary opponent, Boris Miles, nor do most voters in the district. That gets to the point of this Fail -- being off-message in an election.
There is a great deal of anti-incumbent sentiment in the voter community. Even though the race is for state legislature, a message of "Lets not make the same mistake again" appeals to that group. For an incumbent to use it is at best strange and at worst destructive. Perhaps this postcard is part of the reason why he lost.
Politicians are like businesses. They have their own brand identity, recognized style, and mental associations. Most recognize this and strive to either play on or transform their brand to varying levels of success.
Learning: Fully think though your message, your audience's knowledge of your brand, and the relevance of the message.