Friday, December 12, 2014

Not Ready for Primetime Players

It must feel that way for Wendy Davis after failing to muster the groundswell of support many thought she could do in October, 2013, when she announced she was running for governor.  Apparently, a defiant legislative stand doesn't make you a good bet in the Democratic Party, which really let her down statewide.  Texas had one of the worst voter turnouts in the nation -- 28.3 per cent.  You really have to wonder why more Democrats didn't pitch up to knock the Republicans out of Austin, who have been there since 1994.

Texas Monthly blames her demise on a poor campaign, which had numerous shake-ups and was unable to stay on message during the long slog that is our silly primary and general election process.  Mostly, it seems Wendy wasn't ready for all that attention, and the Abbott campaign seized on a number of inconsistencies in her "story" that undermined her credibility in the eyes of Texas voters.  Washington Post offers a more detailed account of her campaign failings.

Similarly, Alison Lundergan Grimes fell well below expectations, losing by 15 points to Mitch McConnell, even though she led the embattled Senate minority leader at several points during the long, arduous campaign.  She seemed to have a much stronger campaign and was able to get the heavy-hitting Clintons to support her, but in the closing month her campaign unraveled before our eyes.  The signature moment came when she was not prepared to admit she voted for Obama.

From there it was all downhill, as Alison seemed to realign herself to the right of Mitch, attacking him for everything from being weak on coal to soft on immigration.  She looked less like a Democratic candidate than a Tea Party insurgent hoping to unseat the incumbent.  In the process, she lost a tremendous amount of support among her Democratic base, which is still relatively strong in Kentucky, since the state has a Democratic governor, who had embraced the Affordable Care Act, setting up the state's own highly successful health insurance exchanges.

Davis was always a long shot, but Alison had a real chance to unseat Mitch, who was very unpopular within his own party.  It is hard to understand the tack Alison took in October because even if Republicans are disgruntled with their candidate, they will still vote for him or her over a Democrat.  Alison seemed to honestly think she could cut into the base of dissatisfied Republicans.  Wendy similarly tacked right late in her campaign, but didn't swing all the way over to the dark side like Alison did on immigration, resulting in a strong backlash from the left.

While Wendy Davis may have failed to live up to initial expectations, Alison came out of this election covered in soot from head to foot, which will be pretty hard to wash off.  There is talk of her running for governor next year, but for the time being is keeping a low profile.  It is hard for me to imagine Democrats trusting Alison after that public meltdown.  Whereas, Wendy can still hold her head up high, even if she ended up with a bit of cow shit on her trademark pink Mizunos.

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