Wednesday, August 22, 2012

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Keeping An Eye On The Political Ball

The current flap over Missouri Congressman Todd Akin's dumb and wrong
gaffe has grabbed headlines and plenty of news stories from the Old Media
which continues to be embarrassingly biased and hostile to Republican
candidates in 2012. But the Republican Party in Missouri and nationally
has behaved in an exemplary fashion by denouncing Akin and asking him
to resign as the GOP senate nominee in Missouri. Akin so far has refused to
do so, and is now behaving as the aggrieved party. He may find himself a
very politically and financially lonely fellow soon enough, however, and
change his mind.

In northern Minnesota, a Democratic state legislator who was caught by
police in a politically unacceptable sexual situation in a public area (but
was not charged) has also been urged by most Democratic (called the DFL
in this state) party officials and colleagues to resign, but has refused. In
this case, the party and its officials also did the right thing, and their
candidate refused to cooperate.

In both cases, attempts to blame the whole party for the offenses of an
individual candidate will not work. The voters will decide what to do in
each case, as it should be done.

Throughout my commentary about the congressional races for 2012,  I
have reminded readers that a campaign season always has surprises,
whether they be unexpected retirements (such as GOP Senator Olympia
Snowe in Maine), scandals/investigations (such as the Democratic senate
nominee in Nevada) or gaffes (such as Mr Akin's in Missouri). In the case
of the campaign for control of the U.S. senate in the next term, there will
almost certainly be more, and on both sides.

I have suggested for several months that the Republicans will regain control
of the U.S. senate in 2013, and by more than a margin of one. Of course,
that is not a certainty, and it could be a tie at 50-50 or a margin of one at
51-49.  But the home stretch is now on the horizon, and the Democrats
are stuck with the extraordinary disadvantage of having more than twice
as many seats up for re-election this cycle, and many more of these seats
than GOP seats are vulnerable. I am sticking to my prediction.

U.S. house and senate contests are usually more local in character, but in
2010 they were primarily nationalized. This seems to be recurring in 2012,
with high unemployment and a poor economy providing the motor.
President Obama's and his party's signature legislation, Obamacare,
remains unpopular and continues to drive independent voters away from
their 2008 choices.

Democrats in Missouri will make Mr. Akin's gaffe an issue, and they should
do so. It may well turn a likely GOP pick-up into the re-election of an
otherwise very unpopular incumbent. (Mr. Akin is the same kind of
candidate as GOP senate nominees in 2010 in Delaware and Nevada,
candidates who by their own actions threw away likely Republican
pick-ups in those states. But those avoidable losses in 2010 did not change
control of the senate, and one flubbed race in 2012 will not do it this time.)

Interestingly, when GOP Senator Snowe retired earlier this year, it was
universally considered a sure pick-up by Democrats even though the
presumed winner would be Independent Angus King (who would caucus
with the Democrats).  Latest reports indicate that Mr. King's initial large
lead has dwindled as campaign ads against him remind Maine voters of
his questionable fiscal record when he was governor. The Republicans
have a well-known nominee this year, as do the Democrats. In this
three-way race, Mr. King is still favored, but the early certainty now has
some doubt. As I have said, in individual races anything can happen,
even at the last political minute.

Copyright (c) 2012 by Barry Casselman.  All rights reserved.

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