‘02 candidate/Sec/State Elaine Marshall (D) and Sen. Richard Burr (R) “offered competing visions” in a 10/11 debate” (AP, 10/11). Marshall and Burr “sharply” disagreed “on the new health care law, on drilling off the state’s coast and on which party was responsible for the national debt.”
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Marshall “most often played the role of the aggressor, portraying” Burr “as a political insider” and “attempting to tie him to public discontent” with Washington. Marshall: “Washington is not responding to the needs of ordinary Americans. Senator Burr has been in Washington for 16 years and is part of that club.”
Burr: “If you believe our government has to be downsized and we need to figure out how to get more bang for our buck, then I’m asking for your support” (Christensen, Raleigh News & Observer, 10/12).
Burr “blamed unpredictable taxes and regulation for stunting the nation’s nascent economic recovery.”
Burr: “Let’s make tax rates and regulation predictable. Let’s give private capital a reason to come into the marketplace and expand business and to create jobs.”
Marshall “laid out a different vision, suggesting the nation should be offering tax credits for creating jobs.” Marshall: “We’ve got to help small businesses. We’ve got to help provide the credit they need so that they can create the jobs that we need” (Baker, AP, 10/12).
Both “refrained from offering many specifics in” the “hour long debate that touched on a broad range of subjects” (Winston-Salem Journal, 10/12).
Early Bird Gets The Votes
Early voting “has altered the dynamics of political campaign” as they’ve “gone from gearing up for voting day” to gearing up for “voting season.” In ‘08, Dems enjoyed an advantage in early voting, but “that probably reflects” better Dem organization rather than “an inherent partisan tilt to early voting itself.” In NC, early voting is set to begin in ‘10 on 10/14.
Ohio State prof. Daniel Tokaji: “It’s absolutely changed things and it’s going to change things in the future. It has to change the way campaigns are run. Campaigns are going to have to target voters earlier than they did in the past.”
NC Dem chair Andrew Whalen: “Once early voting starts, I think we’re going to see more Democrats come out and momentum build right through to Election Day” (Morrill, Charlotte Observer, 10/12).
Not Down, Not Out
Marshall “trails Burr by more than 10 percentage points in recent polls” but “told supporters that the race can still be win.” Marshall: “It is a winnable race. I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about polls. … This race is about jobs. It’s about people, and it’s about jobs. That’s where we’re going to win” (Fayettesville Observer Times, 10/12).
Burr “likes to stay away from the hot button social issues” so “when he traveled to Greenville over the weekend,” it was “up to” Rep. Walter Jones (R-03) who is “a favorite of social conservatives” to “remind voters that Burr opposes abortion and opposes same-sex marriage.”
Jones: “(Burr) believes as you believe, and I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. … He shares my belief that a child is a gift from God and that ought to be part of the debate — protecting God’s gift to women” (Christensen, “Under The Dome,” Raleigh News & Observer, 10/11).
What happens in an election when two candidates who are unelectable run against each other in the fall? We are about to test that proposition.
The Florida primary is now in the record books, and Mitt Romney walked away with a big win, money in the bank, and a good deal of momentum. He is now the true front-runner in the race for the Republican nomination, and by the sound of his speech after he won Florida (and in homage to the Facebook initial public offering), he looked like he was launching his general-election IPO. So, with the understanding that the Republican primary campaign could still take a few twists and turns, let’s look forward to the general election.
After a bruising negative campaign that became considerably bitter and personal, Romney is now down to his lowest favorability rating ever among the key voting group of independents. In the latest ABC News/Washington Post polling, 51 percent of independents rate Romney unfavorably and only 23 percent view him favorably—a whopping net-negative rating of 28 percentage points. A candidate in this territory can’t win in a normal general election.
President Obama also faces bleak prospects. His approval rating (which history shows is a pretty good indicator of the vote he would draw on Election Day) is 42 percent among independent voters. That is a number that wouldn’t win a president reelection in normal times. Add to that low consumer-confidence numbers, high unemployment, and the large percentage of people who say that the country is headed in the wrong direction, and you wouldn’t put much money on the incumbent.
But someone has to win, and in the spring of 1992, a similar situation developed. Bill Clinton emerged battered and bruised from the Democratic primary race with a large number of voters viewing him unfavorably, and the incumbent president was unelectable when you looked at his job-approval numbers. So Ross Perot appeared and actually led some national polls until he showed he wasn’t ready for prime time. Clinton unified his party at the Democratic convention in New York City, and then never trailed.
In a race between two theoretically unelectable candidates, anything is possible. Could a third-party candidate emerge? Yes. Could Romney unify the Republicans? Very possible. Could Obama get a lift from an improving economy? Sure.
We won’t know any of those answers for quite a while, but it is sure going to be fun to watch this contest unfold.
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