Thursday, July 27, 2006

Mfume big winner out of Steele political suicide

The recent self-destructive comments of Michael Steele - blasting the Republican Party whose nomination he seeks, insulting President Bush as a campaigner for him, then calling him a "homeboy" - will not help Steele at all. While political scientist Matthew Crenson told the Sun that he thinks this is a brilliant move to help Steele in Montgomery and PG Counties, there is a reason most economists are not rich and a reason most political scientists do not win elective office. They won't help Steele, but will help Mfume a lot.

Why Mfume? Because a lot of liberal activists have Nader-itis, a fear of letting the better become the enemy of the good. Many liberal activists - let's get past political correcness, liberal white activists in Montgomery County - want to vote for Mfume, but wouldn't let themselves do so out of the fear (correct or incorrect) that Steele would beat Mfume when Cardin would have a better shot.

Now that Steele looks stupid, clumsy and craven, many Monotgomery County activists and voters generally who did not think Mfume had a shot will now conclude that if Mfume gets it, he can still beat Steele. So Mfume will get more votes. In addition, other candidates (Lichtman, Rales, perhaps Rasmussen) will step up their efforts along the same lines; Democrats can vote their conscience, since the Republican looks dead in the water. It is likely that many Rasmussen voters - moderate, white, largely in Baltimore County - will hold firm, knowing that the Dem is going to win the general no matter what. Ditto for Lichtman and Rales; their appeal is more to potential Cardin voters, I suspect, than to Mfume voters, so Cardin gets cramped further. No one "needs" to drop out for the "good of the Party" when the Party is looking as strong and energetic as an ox on a triple espresso.

Cardin could still win this one, perhaps probably will if big-money spending in the next 6 weeks means a lot. But Mfume's campaign just got a dose of caffeine, and a new practical primary voting pool who will vote how they really feel - for the most liberal candidate they can find - which in America's typical winner-take-all, no runoff system happens too rarely.


Blogger OnBackground said...

That's an interesting take on the situation -- thanks for giving us that perspective.

The only note I have is that while Lichtman probably does draw some white, Jewish and/or Montgomery County voters away from Cardin (as does Rales), Lichtman is even more liberal than Mfume and so will draw a number of votes from Mfume in the right situation. September 12 is getting more and more fun.

7/27/2006 03:29:00 PM  
Blogger Jamison said...

A very interesting take on it. I was spending so much time laughing at the Republicans and didn't even stop to think about how it would effect the Democratic primary. I'm going to swish this around in the brain for a little bit and see if I'm convinced. But a first glimpse nothing jumps out as incorrect with your analysis.

7/27/2006 03:33:00 PM  
Blogger Sara da Muse said...

Bets anyone? I think it all depends how hard Cardin hits at the end (especially on mail and in the Baltimore media market), whether Rales gets any traction with his advertising, and how many points Rasmussen can keep Cardin from getting from moderate types in his county.

I go with Mfume by 3-5%.

7/31/2006 10:45:00 AM  

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