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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

TN-Sen: Ford Slips Against Three GOPers

Posted by DavidNYC

A new poll from Rasmussen (likely voters, January in parens):

Ford: 36 (40)
Bryant: 45 (42)

Ford: 35 (37)
Hilleary: 43 (43)

Ford: 35 (40)
Corker: 39 (42)
(MoE: ±4.5%)

The usually terse Rasmussen provides a few internals, but doesn't offer much of an explanation for Ford's slippage. As for myself, I keep vacillating on whether I think TN-Sen will turn into a legit pickup opportunity this year. Obviously, a poll like this makes you lean "no," but just a month ago, the same survey tilted toward "yes." What do you think?

Posted at 09:15 AM in 2006 Elections - Senate, Tennessee | Technorati

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I always thought this was a "too good to be true" type of race. I never quite believed that Ford would really be competitive in TN once things started heating up. If anything, I think this will provide a useful example of what kind of politics work and what kind of politics don't work in a moderate Southern state like Tennessee. Ford is a rightward-leaning, economically right-wing Democrat in a state that I suspect needs a huge dose of class populism (with some combination of social conservatism--or at least, social authenticity) for a Democrat to win back voters in this state.

Of course, who knows if any lessons will be learned. People may write off the policy and say that Ford lost because he's African-American, and that was something this state couldn't handle.

I don't know. I'm not writing his politicaly obit yet, but at the very least, I hope we'll have someone a lot more progressive in his house seat.

Posted by: HellofaSandwich [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 7, 2006 01:04 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

(That should read "political obit".)

Posted by: HellofaSandwich [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 7, 2006 01:09 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Not optimistic at all and never was....

Here's the short list of Harold Ford's assets in this race: youth and charisma....

compared to the short list of Ford's liabilities in this race: his race, the reputation of his family, his Memphis base, his occasional displays of temper and petulance, the geographic advantages of his opponents in statewide contests, the rising GOP tide sweeping Tennessee like the rest of the Appalachian "Scots-Irish" belt, and perhaps most of all, he's socially liberal and economically conservative in a state where a winning Democrat follows the exact opposite formula on the road to victory. Abortion rights and defense of free trade policies are not the way Democrats win in Tennessee.

My latter list is far longer than my former. I always said Ford needed to pitch the political equivalent of a perfect game to win this thing, with his GOP opponent howling at the moon the way Jim Bunning did in 2004 for icing on the cake. With heavyweights like Bryant and Hilleary challenging Ford, it seems unlikely such screw-ups can be counted on. It may turn out that Bob Corker would be Ford's most beat challenger given that his moderate positions on certain issues might keep some of the wingnuts at home, but with him, you have to factor in the consolidation of support in East Tennessee, particularly Chattanooga.

Bottom line: I think Nevada is probably a stronger prospect for that elusive "sixth Senate seat" we need to gain than Tennessee. I haven't completely written this race off, but damn is it gonna be tough.

Posted by: Mark [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 7, 2006 01:21 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Virginia is going to be the 6th it is trending Blue and Democrats have a great candidate.

Posted by: D in FL. [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 7, 2006 01:24 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Ford is socially liberal?

You are talking about the Harold Ford who voted to ban partial-birth abortion (at least twice) and same-sex marriage, voted for an amendment to allow prayer in public schools, and voted to allow state/local governments to display the 10 commandments, right?

Just asking. ;)

Maybe expectations for Ford are skewed, since he represents a district that went 3 to 1 for Kerry, and he's pretty much Mr. Middle of the Road.

Well, Ford is slightly left of center, if you wish to get technical. But, I wouldn't exactly put him down as a social liberal. He's been voting in a way to cover his ass for his eventual run for statewide office.

Posted by: RBH [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 7, 2006 01:32 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Some things:

1) This is the magical 6th seat, so it's a must-win if we want to get to 51.

2) I laughed when a San Francisco fundraiser for Ford was cancelled after the hosts discovered his vote on the gay marriage amendment.

3) The glimmer of hope is the 20%-30% undecideds in this race. Everybody in TN knows who Ford is. Why are so many still uncomitted (whereas there are far fewer undecideds in the Montana, Missouri, and Ohio races, for ex)? I wager that people don't know much about the Republicans (or AS much) and are waiting to get to know them before deciding. If they don't impress, Tennesseans may vote Ford.

Posted by: AnthonySF [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 7, 2006 02:03 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I never believe the polls that Rasmussen spews...

Posted by: lespool [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 7, 2006 05:15 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

It is sad to say, but I find it very hard to believe that Tennessee would elect an African American to the Senate.

Posted by: DavidG [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 7, 2006 09:35 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Ford wouldn't be socially liberal for California or New York, but supporting abortion rights in itself qualifies one as well to the left of the Tennessee electorate. The apparent national spotlight that will be shined on the abortion issue will likely make 2006 another 2004 in the South. Tennessee, long considered a "moderate" state by the standards of the South, has pro-lifers outnumbering pro-choicers by an eight-point margin according to SUSA. Combine that with the usual brimstone and fire coming out of the mouths of Tennessee preachers the Sunday before the election and I find it hard to believe the undecideds will break for Ford. I'd love to be wrong here though.

Posted by: Mark [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 7, 2006 09:35 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Well, which are everyone six states? OH, NV, MO, RI, PA, and MT?

Posted by: jerzay [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 7, 2006 09:49 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

As a VERY active TN Dem, I can state uncategorically that Ford is in no a social liberal. He votes with Republicans more than any other Dem in TN. As for winning the Senate seat, there is no way it can happen. An African American from what is seen as a corrupt family can only hope to carry Memphis, Nashville and, possibly, Chattanooga. (and if Chattanooga's former Mayor, Bob Corker, is the Rep nominee than Chatt is gone.) Any Dem will win Memphis and Nashville.

TN's only chance is State Senator, Rosiland Kurita. She is a true liberal who can motivate the base, she's can carry her home area including Middle TN, Clarksville (5th largest city), Ft. Campbell and the military vote and carry Memphis and Nashville ( and will do MUCH better in East TN)

While Ford has not been seen anywhere on the campaign trail (except TV), Kurita has been visiting grassroots organizations, union members, County Party meetings and anyone else who will stop to listen. (I've seen Kurita speak at least 8 times in the past year and Ford not once) There is a growing discontent with Ford's apparent air of being the unquestionable successor and one who sees no reason to work for the nomination. Also the large percentage of out of state money for Ford is becoming an issue.

Unfortunately the Dem establishment is totally ignoring Kurita (if not actively trying to force her from the race.) It is a typical case of Dems ignoring their own self interest in favor of the "safe" candidate. Kurita's name recognition remains low and many who are looking for an alternative have yet to find her. If she can overcome this and the money gap, she might be able to compete in the primary.

Regardless, she is Tennessee's best chance at finally getting a Democratic US Senator.

Just one Tennessean's thoughts.

Posted by: TNDem [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 7, 2006 10:49 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

As a Tennessean, I can say confidently that the only way Ford could win a statewide race wqs if he was running as the GOP nominee.

Posted by: Dan [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 7, 2006 12:01 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

As another TN democrat, I don't totally agree with TNDem. It is a long way to election day and if Ford campaigns as well as he's capable and gets some breaks along the way, he can win in Tennessee.

First of all, there's a bloodbath already occurring on the Republican side. The CW is that Bryant and Hilleary will split the right wing and Corker will survive. Corker has more than double the money of the other two, last I heard. But if Corker wins, the far right will stay home. His record is too long to be successful pandering to them after the primary. If Bryant or Hilleary wins, then moderate repubs may stay home or vote for Ford. A good friend of mine who is an active moderate Repub told me he is voting for Ford regardless of whether Corker wins. He says many Repubs are sick of the corruption, incompetence and religious pandering of the current bunch.

I really don't think Ford being African American will lose him this race. But Republican bashing over Ford's family might. He does a decent job distancing himself from it, but in a year where corruption is a resounding issue, some of it will stick.

I like Kurita, but she is completely unknown outside of her area and has little chance of being competetive in the primary. Ford is too conservative for me on some issues, but overall I have a good impression of him. I've met him once and he's not only genuine but has the ability to connect with individuals. So my opinion is don't count this race out of reach yet.

Posted by: 57cc [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 7, 2006 12:11 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Ford's hitting back for a TV ad blasting the Dubai Port Deal; for a guy who has said he "loves the President personally", this ad is pretty hard-hitting against the President--insinuating that he's selling national security out to terrorist-enabling countries:

(Click on "Don't Outsource Our Ports")

I think it's a pretty strong ad--and this type of campaigning MAY keep him in the race. If anything, the one thing I like about Ford is that he's got a huge ego and would never want to admit personal defeat. He's been lusting for higher office for a while--maybe that thirst for power will force him to do the type of campaigning he NEEDS to do in order to keep this one competitive.

Posted by: HellofaSandwich [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 7, 2006 01:35 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Great add Sandwich. I think everyone is forgeting the elephant in the room, which is the possible indictment of Bill Frist for inside trading. Though Frist is retiring, his indictment could cast a long GOP shadow in this state and help out Ford. This race is FAR from over.

Posted by: jkfp2004 [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 7, 2006 06:02 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Hey, 'jerzay'. Fellow New Jerseyan?

Out of the six states the Dems might be able to count on for Senate seat pickups, one of them, unfortunately will not be NV. The re-THUGs will keep that one (as much as I hate to concede it). We honestly have a better chance in Tennessee, despite the latest rigged Rasmussen polls (which 85% of them are, but that's not saying even with better poll #s than this it's going to be much of a cakewalk), to be honest (or Maine, which is somehow completely out of the running, even though it's the truest of the blue states, because even the more 'rural' Northern part of it that counts for one of Maine's four electoral votes gets bluer every election cycle...

Posted by: progressivemuslimnj [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 8, 2006 02:39 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment