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Monday, April 26, 2004

Bush Losing His Coattails

Posted by Fester

I spent most of today listening to sports radio because I am a football freak. Arlen Specter was advertising extremely heavily today with two different ads on the radio. The first was a very positive one in which President Bush speaks for his need to have Arlen Specter in the Senate to win Pennsylvania in November and a generic plea by Specter for his supporters to come out and vote tomorrow. The other ad in rotation was a far more negative one in which Specter does not quite go for his former "Toomey not far right, far out" tag line but it was pretty close.

Now we know that the polls are suggesting either a toss-up or a slight Toomey edge. The weather looks thoroughly mediocre tomorrow, so if only the more dedicated voters go to the polls tomorrow, I think Toomey pulls out a squeaker.

Now I think that Specter will be a very expensive defeat for Bush as it will be the second data point and thus a start of a trend which will diminish his power against Congress. Bush has placed a pretty impressive amount of support behind a vulnerable incumbent in a critical swing state and it looks like he will lose this bet. His candidate Kerr lost in Kentucky and Terrel lost in the Lousiana run-off. So the last two single race elections in which there is a Bush backed candidate have been losses even though the demographics of the electorate should theoretically favor the Bush backed candidate. As DavidNYC points out, this is not a complete summary as the Bush backed candidate won the governorships of Kentucky and Mississippi, but the trend is favorable for the Dems.

Now if Specter loses, it "proves" that Bush can not protect vulnerable Republicans against either hard core conservative primary challengers or from competent moderate to conservative Democratic challengers. The Bush family and its political machine have built their operation on fear of retribution. The effectiveness of management by fear fails miserably when the opposition calls the bluff. This means that no vulnerable Republican will automatically assume that blind obedience to Bush is an electoral winner this summer and during the fall. Congressional Republicans are already behind in the generic Congressional ballot races. This gives vulnerable incumbents a very strong incentive to watch out for their own best interest.

Tomorrow will be interesting because it could give the press the start of a meta-narrative of "Bush losing his base."

Crossposted at Fester's Place

Posted at 08:06 PM in Pennsylvania | Technorati


My prediction is still Specter over Toomey, but like they say in baseball, this is why they play the games - or hold the elections. Should be interesting stuff.

Posted by: DavidNYC at April 26, 2004 08:25 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I guess I don't understand why a victory by Toomey should be considered a harbinger of bad things to come for Bush. This is the first I've heard about this race, but Toomey clearly appears to be by far the more right wing of the 2. It's as likely that voters will make their decisions based on their take on the candidates themselves than on any association of Spectre with Bush. I would have the opposite take from yours: If voters go to a clearly more right wing, pro-life candidate over a moderate, I think the mountain that we have to climb to defeat Bush will get much higher, not lower.

Posted by: Bill Ambrose at April 27, 2004 12:24 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

If this was either a general election or a special election such as KY-6 which Chandler won, I would agree with your interpretation. However today is a primary election with low turnout composed of dedicated Republican voters. These are voters that a Democrat will not capture in most to any circumstance next November.

Bush and the Republican governing elites threw their support behind Specter because Toomey is a lunatic who scares the non-primary voting soccer moms who are comfortable voting for that nice guy Arlen and are persuadable to a "compassionately conservative" Bush but will recoil away from "feed the base" Bush which Toomey will bring out if they campaign together.

Finally, Bush's endorsement ability has been a cornerstone of the GOP GOTV efforts. The endorsement is aimed at the dedicated partisans and its goal is to increase their voting intensity. The dedicated partisans are leaning Toomey. If Bush's endorsement does not hold a winning sway over these people, it weakens Bush in my opinion.

Posted by: fester986 at April 27, 2004 01:05 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

It's refreshing, but sort of nutty, to suggest that a toss-up between an incumbent and a challenger means the challenger will win. This goes against the idea of "incumbency". But you all probably thought Dean was going to be the nominee, so I forgive you.

Posted by: Phil Rizzuto at April 28, 2004 04:08 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Scooter, welcome aboard! Still not quite clear, though, on how you got into the Hall of Fame with a career .273 batting average, a mere 1,588 hits and a whopping 38 homers. But life's a mystery!

Posted by: DavidNYC at April 28, 2004 06:54 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

It's true; me and John Kerry are very similar in that respect.

Posted by: Phil Rizzuto at April 29, 2004 03:00 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment