The coming Republican bloodbath?

Stu Rothenberg has joined the chorus of prognosticators predicting Republicans will win the Senate majority in November. In many ways, that’s irrelevant because of three incumbent governors.  Polls show tight races for Scott Walker in Wisconsin, Rick Scott in Florida, and Rick Snyder in Michigan; Sam Brownback in Kansas isn’t blowing the doors off his challenger, either.

The importance of these seats goes beyond the fact that the states tend to be close in Presidential years; in his own way, each of the four governors has enacted reforms that make a real-world case for conservative policies. The mantra that “Republicans have to be FOR something!” is tired but very true. Each of these incumbents has enacted policies that have improved their respective states. Losses in any one state could wash away years of real progress, and it might make Republicans in other states suddenly reticent to push a reform agenda.

There are other conservative reformers out there who either aren’t up for reelection this year or who don’t have a serious opponent. These tight races will be a good electoral test for policies which have, so far, been effective. That means even more to the Republican Party than who runs the Senate in 2015.

(In the interest of disclosure, the firm I work for has done work for Walker, Scott, and Snyder and for party committees in the respective states – but as should be patently obvious, no inside information was used in linking to those publicly available polls.)

Crist’s cross won’t make Meek jump, jump…

Earlier this week, the intrigue surrounding the Florida Senate race involved Bill Clinton’s behind-the-scenes maneuvering to get Kendrick Meek out of the race.  Now, it turns out, Charlie Crist was behind the whole thing – and tried to seal the deal by offering a cross as a gift.

Though 2010 is not a good year to have details of back-room political deals come out on the weekend before election day, Meek was so far out of the race it didn’t figure to hurt him.  But the inclusion of Crist in this bizarre dance – and his odd choice of Christian imagery – may just seal the deal on the race.  Rubio enjoys a near-20 point advantage in most polls, and has been trending up since August.

The question now becomes whether the stench of political horsetrading (especially with America’s honorary “first black President” trying to convince a black candidate to stand aside so a well-tanned-but-still-white candidate could defeat a Latino) will depress turnout among Democrats on Tuesday.


Crist probably didn’t approve THIS message

From the Florida Senate race comes this re-mix of a Charlie Crist ad:

This video is well done, drives home a message simply and effectively, and may very well have been done on an activist’s home computer.  Aside from demonstrating that the campaign messages are sometimes best articulated by volunteers and voters, it shows the idiocy of campaign finance laws.

This isn’t necessarily a rogue activist popping off, but that is certainly a possibility.  Is that an in-kind donation to the Rubio campaign?  To Meek?  To both?  And how much is are the few hours of video editing worth?

The argument against campaign finance laws has always been that they fail to recognize the individual right of free speech.  When the only way to broadcast a message to a wide audience was through expensive broadcast media buys, it was harder to put the speech of a wealthy campaign supporter in the same category as Joe Q. Average sharing an opinion with friends and neighbors.  Today’s environment is different.  The person behind the video above understands that it doesn’t take a big dollar donation to get your point across anymore.


To follow up on the trend of politicians seeking to avoid YouTube, some – like Florida State Rep Mike Weinstein – have gone the other direction with a video Mediaite’s Steven Jessop has (rightfully) called the “Cheesiest Campaign Video Ever”:

Cringe-worthy, isn’t it?  Jessop compares it to Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark video.  It took me back to syndicated Saturday-morning kids shows on independent stations like WPIX in the early 1990s, where kids dressed like stunt doubles for Screech would bop around on stage in neon orange t-shirts and denim overalls.  And, it turns out, the company that produced the video makes educational programming for kids, so that’s probably what they were going for.

So it’s a bad campaign tactic, right?  Not so fast.  I thought so at first, too, but then I sat down to make fun of it, and the song stuck in my head.  Jessop pointed it out in his post, and by gum he’s right: the song is pretty catchy.  Like a commercial jingle, it’s annoying at first, then you hear it a few times and you’re humming it in the shower.

Weinstein is an incumbent, so though it may make him seem a little out of touch with younger voters it probably won’t hurt – though they’ll probably lose Kenny Loggins’ vote.

Crist crossing party lines

It’s hard to portray yourself as an outsider when you sit in the governor’s mansion in one of the biggest states in the union.  But Gov. Charlie Crist did his best yesterday, positioning his decision to run as an independent as an answer to a broken system. And it just might work.

Though polls currently show Marco Rubio with a slight edge, they also show that 35-40% will likely win the race.  (Unlike Sen. Joe Lieberman’s 2006 run after losing the Connecticut Democrat primary, the opposition party is not laying down.)   Even though some Republican donors are sure to ask for their money back, Crist is a sitting governor through the beginning of next year and Florida is a state with plenty of commercial interests.  That math isn’t hard to do.

If Crist wins, the math gets even more fun.  Assuming he stays independent, he could become very difficult to topple as long as he maintains support in one third of the electorate.  That would make him an anomaly in American politics: a safe incumbent with 35% support.