Prosecute the torture.

August 12, 2005

Why Santorum Can Win

In an answer to my "No Choice" post the following comment was written:


"If we want to truly make a difference in the lives of women, young, old and in-between, we should pick Democratic candidates who can go head-to-head with Santorum and Hart and who can win in November 2006."
Agreed -- the problem is that that candidate is not Bob Casey.

Apparently I'm not alone in that thought. From the Philadelphia Inquirer:


Playing and winning, however, are not synonymous. Jennifer Duffy, who analyzes Senate races for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, said she believed that "this race will be tougher than Democrats think. Does Casey excite the Democratic base? He's against abortion, and the base is pro-choice. He has the wrong profile for the party's big liberal donors."

By contrast, she argued, "Santorum is a great campaigner who excites his base" - and it's the diehards who tend to be the most motivated voters in midterm elections. "Their take on Santorum is, 'Agree or disagree with him, you still know where he stands,' which is the same asset Bush had in 2004."

[snip]

But, above all, a Santorum victory would be the silver bullet that destroys the Democrats. Privately, some of them believe that Casey's double-digit poll lead is a mirage and that Santorum has been smart to spend the summer touting his defense of the family. It's a theme that rouses his base and potentially connects with parents who, while wary of his most outspoken views, nevertheless share his concerns about the entertainment culture's influence on children.

"The point is, Santorum is saying something, consistently - while Casey isn't saying much," a top Washington Democratic strategist said privately. "And that gets back to the problem we still have as a party. The Republicans have a broad cultural message, and they know how to communicate it. We still don't know how to communicate what we believe in. We've lost our self-confidence."

Indeed, Democratic strategists James Carville and Stan Greenberg warned in a July memo that their party was "at risk of making only modest gains in 2006" because they "are firing on only half their cylinders." As a result, voters are still "uncertain about [our] convictions."
To sum up:

1. Casey is a lousy campaigner. Casey had a near 20 point lead against Ed Rendell early on and then lost by about 10 -- he managed to go down nearly 30 points over the course of the race! This is the "mirage" factor mentioned in the article. Santorum IS a strong campaigner and a strong debater and he can trounce Casey in any kind of one-on-one interview/debate.


A Millersville University poll; conducted 10/25-28/01; surveyed 504 registered voters margin of error +/- 4.3%. (Hotline)
Democratic primary matchup--Likely Voters:
Casey: 44%
Rendell: 27%
Undecided: 30%

Final Results:
Rendell: 56%
Casey: 44%
2. Rendell had help from pro choice REPUBLICAN women. They contributed to his campaign. Some even registered as Democrats to help him in the primary.

3. Four months after Casey has put up his website he still doesn't have an issues page because he knows that the majority of Pennsylvanians are pro choice and are pro embryo stem cell research. No one even knows how casey feels about the war in Iraq. He can't run as a stealth candidate forever.

4. Republicans will always be able to outspend Democrats and Casey will not get the kind of money that a strong pro choice Democrat would get in this race -- especially money from contributors outside the state who would give cash to prgressive/pro choice PACs.

5. I have heard much rumblings that the Democratic Powers That Be are trying to get Casey to "soften" his position on abortion. They finally realized that maybe they screwed up by shoving an anti choice candidate down our throats.

6. By running Santorum Lite, you are giving Santorum voters no reason to switch over their vote. Despite any of the batshit crazy stuff Santorum is saying now he will, as always, start running towards the middle the closer it gets to the election. He's already backed down on teaching Intelligent Design in schools. Santorum will run as a family friendly populist and Casey will run as a void.

If the Democratic party had some cojones -- if they wanted to demonstrate that they stand for SOMETHING -- then Chuck Schumer, Ed Rendell, Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton, and the rest of the boys would have gotten behind someone who could present the voters with a real alternative to Rick Santorum. Someone like Chuck Pennacchio.

They could have embraced the differences between Democrats and Republicans instead of fleeing from them. They could have learned something from the 2004 election and realized that the way to win is to have a strong candidate with strong positions who offers the voters a real CHOICE (pun intended).

8 comments:

Ava said...

First of all, I'm not convinced that Republican women re-registering as Democrats really had a significant effect on the outcome in the last primary for Governor. Please direct me and other readers to where we can find that information. Also, if true, I don't see Republican women coming out in quite the same way for Pennachio.

Secondly, Casey is running against Santorum, not Rendell. Let's use some more recent and relevant statistics, like the July 2005 Quinnipiac poll where:

Casey leads Santorum, 51-39%
Women would vote for Casey over Santorum, 51-35%

Kerry won Pennsylvania 51-49% in 2004. Not necessarily an overwhelming victory. And let's not forget about conservative democrats who voted for Bush. Many previously democratic counties in Pennsylvania went to Republican for the first time in decades last year.

We know Democratic top key issues (in order) are jobs and the economy, healthcare/prescription drugs, and the war in Iraq. If we focus on these, I know we will win Pennsylvania Senate seat and our key congressional seats in 2006.

Jonathan Potts said...

Rendell may be more likeable than Santorum, but I think Maria's point is valid in that Casey is not a good campaigner who blew an early lead. Even though most normal people are not paying attention to 2006 yet, he still needs to be doing a lot more at this stage than what he has been if he wants to beat a two-term incumbent who happens to be the third most powerful member of the Senate.

Although Maria and I disagree from time to time over abortion politics, I agree that the party leaders' reasoning in handpicking Casey seems suspect. I also disagree with the whole idea of getting behind a candidate in the primary just because he is deemed more electable. We saw how far that got the Democrats with Kerry.

Maria said...

"First of all, I'm not convinced that Republican women re-registering as Democrats really had a significant effect on the outcome in the last primary for Governor. Please direct me and other readers to where we can find that information."

In Pennsylvania, Republicans are Re-Registering as Democrats by the THOUSANDS
20-Apr-02

Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Ed Rendell has unveiled a revolutionary strategy for winning elections - converting registered Republicans to Democrats. "It started out as a grassroots thing," said campaign spokesman Dan Fee. "People kept saying, 'I want to vote for [Rendell].' Once we saw the enthusiasm was there, we decided to help it along." The campaign sent over 100,000 letters to Republicans encouraging them to switch parties. Over 5,500 have already switched in two counties alone. Many of these are pro-choice suburban women who want to support Rendell, the only pro-choice candidate in the race. This is making Harry Fawkes, the Bucks County GOP chairman NUTS! "Fawkes said his organization is keeping close track of the voters who switched and plans to ask them after the primary to change back. He said the former Republicans will at least be getting a letter from him and possibly a visit from their local GOP committee members." Is this some kind of a threat???

(you have to scroll about 1/2 way down the page here

And the support for pro choice candidates in PA goes both ways. When I was out asking people to vote for Joe Hoeffel (Dem who ran against Specter for anyone reading this who doesn't know that), I can't tell you the number of DEMOCRATS who said that they were going to stick with Specter because he had been good to them on the issue of choice and they felt the need to back him up.

Patrick said...

Rendell's appeal to Republicans had less to do with abortion and almost everything to do with his tenure as Mayor of Philadelphia. Rendell inherited a city in total shambles (although the legislature and then Gov. Casey did pass a bail-out package that included a 4% wage tax that included commuters). Rendell did bring the city back from bankruptcy, cut pay and benefits to city employees (Republicans love that), and made cuts in the wage tax. Rendell is hugely popular in the Philadelphia area, even among Republicans, even among those who don't agree with his stances on cultural issues, because of his record as Mayor.

The polling statistics you don't cite are that in the beginning of the governor's race, Rendell's name ID was significantly lower than Casey's, especially outside of the Philly media market. Rendell has always been a great fundraiser, and he did raise his profile to get himself enough of the vote in the rest of the state to beat Casey.

It should be noted as well that Rendell only beat Casey in the Philly media market (and Centre County, home of liberal Penn State folks, and a conservative pro-life pro-gun Democratic County Commissioner, Scott Conklin, who supported Rendell). And that is just the PRIMARY.

No other Democrat, other than Rendell, has the kind of goodwill built up over the years (goodwill that transcends cultural politics) than Rendell had going into the Governor's race.

Pennacchio may agree with Rendell on abortion, but his name will not be synonymous with effective governing and solid leadership. He won't be able to raise the kind of money that Rendell did either.

aahpat said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
aahpat said...

It is good to see others at least trying to look at the Casey issue critically. I have taken a lot of the nasty stuff today on Dailykos for simply being critical of an AP article because the article did not reference the other potential Democratic candidates. Essentially the AP has made up its mind that Casey is it and that is all there is to it. So have many Democrats. Sad.

Here is my blog piece on the AP article.

Santorum will win next year, unfortunately. And here is why.

I am not a Democrat anymore. I am an Independent because the Democrats have moved too far to the right to reflect my pluralistic values. But I will change my registration to whatever party I think I can have a positive impact in for leftist, progressive, liberal issues in America. I call it tactical voting. I'll support a Democrat if that Democrat reflects my values. But only if....

If the Democrats still respect democratic institutions enough to give Pennsylvanians a REAL primary that will show all of the candidates for what they are I might be more inclined to support the winner in that process. Casey, being supported by law and order mad man Ed Rendell, would be the biggest load of crap for me to swallow.

aahpat said...

Rendell has been in the GOP's pocket since the 1960's when he was a star prosecutor for then D.A. Arlen Specter. the two have played both parties for their mutual gain ever since.

I would not mind if it were a nonpartisan effort between them but it has consistently been an effort that has marginalized and assaulted progressive values. They hide behind their abortion support but there is nothing else about these two that has done anyone on the left any good in Pennsylvania.

aahpat said...

So far I like what little I have seen of this guy, Alan Sandals who just announced his run.