October 09, 2006
Senate Race Needs One More Ingredient

Let's be candid. Mike McGavick isn't winning his race for the US Senate. He still might, but he's trailing, and recent events in the national discourse make an already sketchy year for Republican electoral prospects look bleaker (fairly or not), at least for now. The RealClearPolitics poll of polls has McGavick trailing around 9%, a reasonable figure given data from Rasmussen, Mason-Dixon, and Survey USA. This observer thinks McGavick can close the gap, but not all of it on his own. The missing ingredient is someone, or some group, to elevate Maria Cantwell's negatives more than McGavick is likely to do.

The Seattle PI of all sources recently provided a thorough and balanced update of Washington state's two most competitive federal elections this year. The story noted McGavick's recent ads on TV and radio draw a clear contrast between he and Cantwell. That's good and likely a bit overdue The trick is Cantwell's strategy at this point, predictable though it may be.

The PI touched on it, though Dave Ammons explored it at greater length over the weekend as well, reporting:

Strategists say Cantwell's campaign is following the textbook for frontrunners: ignore the opposition as much as possible, minimize debates, avoid gaffes or mistakes, and sit on the poll lead until election day.

This is the same trick tried by now Governor (mutter...growl) Gregoire, on her way to losing her healthy lead in the 2004 Election. It can work, but it has its dangers.

In this case, the chart at the recent PI story show Cantwell and McGavick set to spend similar amounts on TV advertising after October 1st. The astute reader will note, however, the DSCC plans to spend nearly $900,000 on TV to the NRSC's $0. One can say without fear of contradiction the DSCC won't be running ads extolling Mike McGavick's virtues.

Part of the problem is the NRSC has too many races to cover this cycle. Current RealClearPolitics Senate race rankings show Republicans defending four out of five seats in the "Toss Up" category, plus three out of four in the "Leans Democrat" column. Meanwhile, New Jersey has emerged as a better chance for a Republican pick-up than our state.

Yet, while the NRSC may not have money to spend in Washington, there is hope for outside help. The RNC plans to outspend the DNC 5 to 1 ($60 million to $12 million), in part to make up for the lack of advantage held by either the NRSC or the NRCC (see this article for more complete discussion). If McGavick can close a healthy portion of the current gap himself, national money may yet be available as other contested Senate races continue to evolve.

As to that gap, the two upcoming debates are an excellent chance to address it. While less debates mean less chance of a Cantwell mistep, it also means any potential advantage gained by either candidate in any one debate will be magnified given the more focused news coverage that will result.

At the same time, McGavick's recent ads, noted above, are likely to have much more impact on undecided voters than Cantwell's counterparts, on TV and radio (both ads examined respectively here and here).

One additional wildcard may be Bruce Guthrie's potential seriousness in the race, though it increasingly appears his $1.2 million campaign loan may have been more of a stunt to join the KING 5 debate than to really get serious about the campaign.

It doesn't take a genius to recall that prior to this year's campaign, Maria Cantwell had failed to create a substantive impression in most voters' minds through her work in the Senate. Any serious attempt to create a stark contrast between her and McGavick, preferably with some substance, is likely to succeed in the middle of her run-out-the-clock strategy. Just ask Christine Gregoire.


Also worth noting in the PI story cited above is this interesting insight on the Reichert v. Burner race:

But Burner should avoid manufacturing a campaign specific to Reichert, with its inevitable effect of calling her credentials into question by contrast, and instead ride the anti-Bush sentiment the voters are already feeling, Gastil said.

That's likely correct. Despite the copious flow of money from both candidates and their respective party committees into the campaign, the race will likely hinge on the occurance or not of the supposed anti-Republican wave. Without it, Burner will be hard pressed to win.

UPDATE: David Postman provides coverage of this post, and others at Sound Politics, at his own blog today. Readers can see I quibbled over a couple points in the comments at his blog, though I believe we came close to some agreement in the end.

Posted by Eric Earling at October 09, 2006 07:18 AM | Email This
1. Yeah! Time to bring out some real good Rovian slime. Can't win on issues, so let's slime em.

Posted by: danw on October 9, 2006 07:15 AM
2. danw..
You imbecile. You are the King of so-called Slime.
Negative campaigning works as you well know (aka David Irons).
One of your many problems is the Dems have no plans. Just criticism of what R's have tried to do.
You want people to blindly TRUST Democratic candidates!!
That could be your demise danw.
If y'all can't win control this year...you are permanently screwed.
Bad luck and continued misfortune danw...you putz!

Posted by: dude on October 9, 2006 07:31 AM
3. danw - Karl Rove is already in action. Didn't you know he made North Korea test a nuclear weapon to distract from the Mark Foley saga? Really, didn't you know?

Posted by: Eric Earling on October 9, 2006 07:41 AM
4. I don't remember Ron Sims or the DNC running any slime ads on The Mother Beater, women abuser Irons.

As for the rest of your all you can do is hate Bush rant. Blah, Blah Blah.

All I know is that the plans aren't stay the course. Or is their more?
Why do you hate the Troops? and America.

Read...I know it's foreign to you, but try it you'll like it.


North Korea tested a nuke? Wow didn't see that coming. Gives Bushco a way to bring the troops home now....and redeploy them.

Posted by: danw on October 9, 2006 07:52 AM
5. If McGavick can't even get me excited about him being Senator, he is toast. toast as in "milquetoast".

Posted by: swatter on October 9, 2006 08:46 AM
6. Cantwell keeps jabbing with those "look good" issues she was setting herself up for the last two years. Worthless and easy to tear apart, but who is there to do a "truth" detector? All these jabs will knock McGavick out before the election.

And McGavick needs to stop those quick uppercuts to his own jaw, or he might knock himself out instead of just knockdowns.

Why am I giving these boxing metaphors? Politics is contact sport, is why.

Posted by: swatter on October 9, 2006 09:07 AM
7. Better sports metaphor:

Ms. Cantwell is sitting on a six point lead and running a prevent defence, while McGavick is trying to gain yardage in 15 to 20 yard chunks. He needs a last minute touchdown, but his offensive line may not be able to snap the ball in time...

Why does that metaphor come to mind?

Posted by: Sstar on October 9, 2006 09:19 AM
8. Hmmmm.
Tax and spend liberal that does not care about the voters in her state (see sales-tax deduction).


A member of the child molesting party.......

Can we have another candidate please?

Posted by: Monroe Parent on October 9, 2006 09:24 AM
9. the missing ingredient is republican competence (or the absence thereof).

more voters, i believe, would be willing to entertain a mcgavick canidacy if there was some assurance that the senate could exercise some independence from the executive branch. but since a republican-controlled senate is little more than a presidential rubber stamp, how can one serious entertain contributing to that reality.

Posted by: dinesh on October 9, 2006 09:29 AM
10. The trouble with McGavick and Republicans in general is that they don't want to stand up and strongly extoll what is good about the right and what is bad about the left. McGavick has come out specifically trying to avoid the typical dirty campaign rhetoric. A noble goal, but if you are going to do that, you also have to go beyond the "things need to change, and I can do better" bromides.

What appeals to Americans is swagger. McGavick should point out the flaws of Maria McGavick's ideas, and challenge her to address the flaws. And McGavick should speak in such a way as to get many "hooahs" and "amens" from the flock. Instead, he has taken a very placid and unremarkable stance.

If you want to be a winner, you have to show confidence and command belief that you are a winner. That is the American way, and it will appeal to the true majority of Americans. Dino Rossi was much more of this type of candidate, and it served him well, but he is also a more wholesome guy in general. It would be easy to defeat Cantwell, if McGavick was such a candidate, but he is not.

Posted by: Jeff B. on October 9, 2006 09:32 AM
11. Jeff,

You're right, but I think McGavick has painted himself into a corner with his "civility" and "changing the tone" campaign theme. If he comes o ut swinging it starts to look like his previous campaign was just focus group tested poise. Changing looks desperate, and nothing turns off voters more than desperation (exhibit 1: Dukakis in tank.)

Posted by: Sstar on October 9, 2006 09:45 AM
12. If you knew nothing about Mike McGavick except what is in his TV commercials and on his Web site, you would conclude that either he is a moron, or he thinks you are a moron.


Posted by: JDB on October 9, 2006 09:54 AM
13. If you knew nothing about Mike McGavick except what is in his TV commercials and on his Web site, you would conclude that either he is a moron, or he thinks you are a moron.


Posted by: JDB on October 9, 2006 09:54 AM
14. I'm no fan of Cantwell, but why does McGavick make me think of Eddie Haskell every time he opens his mouth?

Posted by: Nancy on October 9, 2006 10:02 AM
15. What's his name, jdb/biteme/blowjob?

Posted by: alphabet soup on October 9, 2006 10:54 AM
16. Hmmmm.
Tax and spend liberal that does not care about the voters in her state (see sales-tax deduction).


A member of the child molesting party.......

Can we have another candidate please? -Posted by Monroe Parent at October 9, 2006 09:24 AM

I hope you are not teaching your children to judge an entire group of people on the rumors of the behavior of ONE... I believe we call that RACISM, BIGOTRY and PREJUDICE.... *(and we call it HATEFUL as well)

We KNOW Maria is a tax and spend liberal.
We KNOW Maria voted against her own state to toe her party line.

For you to tar Mike McGavick with the reputation of SOMEONE ELSE is disgusting.

Do you even understand the difference?

Posted by: Cheryl on October 9, 2006 11:26 AM
17. CnR,

Nice job cutting and pasting from the DCCC talking points memo.

Posted by: Jeff B. on October 9, 2006 11:48 AM
18. Eric, McGavick's toast. You just haven't realized it yet.

Here's a recent primary election for statewide office:

Candidate A, D: 54%
Candidate B, R: 33%

That happens to be the Murray-Nethercutt race of 2004. Here's the 2006 Senate primary:

Cantwell: 52%
McGavick: 36%

For the record, Murray pounded Nethercutt 55-43 in the general.

This one's over, barring Cantwell going in the tank by scandal between now and election day, which I don't think happens. Were I the statewide R's, I'd be more worried about the Puget sound legislative races and the 8th CD. I think the odds are pretty good some of the races in the 31/41/45/48 flip from R to D, along with the 8th CD, and I'd be pumping in cash like mad to keep that from happening.

Posted by: eponymous coward on October 9, 2006 11:51 AM
19. Hey! Cut~n~Run is back (Briefly)! Way to go cnr - you're proof that a person can get so demented in his views that he winds all the way around the backside, meeting up with knob-polishers like jdb/biteme/blowjob.

Posted by: alphabet soup on October 9, 2006 12:02 PM
20. ... member of the child molesting party.......

That would be the 'Rat party. Foley sent IMs talking about doing things, whereas the 'Rats elected and protected someone who actually did them.

That would be Gerry Studds, who liquored up a 17 year old male page and then molested him. The 'Rats covered up Studds' perversions for 10 years and when they finally enacted a limp-noodle reprimand against him he turned his back on the Speaker and held a pep rally/press conference denouncing the measure, then went on to get cheers and standing ovations in his home district and re-elected five more times. The 'Rats essentially celebrated the scumbag's perversity.

Now this same 'Rat party has the gall to get all self-righteous about Mark Foley? The hypocrisy is staggering.

But it wouldn't be the first time. The 'Rats are fond of labeling anyone who opposes them a "racist", yet we have today sitting in the US Senate a man who was a Grand Kleagle of the KKK, one Mr. Robert Byrd, 'Rat of West Virginia. Here is a KKK member who still sits in the Senate today, yet when a Republican (Trent Lott) made complimentary remarks about a former segregationist (Strom Thurmond) on the occasion of his retirement from politics the 'Rats and their friends in the media wanted him tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail. But the KKK member is lauded and lionized as the "Conscience of the Senate". What kind of conscience is that? A guilty one, maybe.

Posted by: Interested Observer on October 9, 2006 12:46 PM
21. Poor Mike! told everyone for months how terrible negative campaigning is as he tries to run against the establishment in DC.

Now he has to go negative against Cantwell to have a chance -- which will only show him to be a Gorton negative campaigner once again. Hey -- GOP Rep Mark Foley could get out of rehab in time to help Mike! raise $$$

Posted by: sendpoly on October 9, 2006 01:07 PM
22. Did anyone really that McGavick wouldn't go
negative at some point.Face it he didn't bring in
Eddie Mahe because he was good at writing thank
you cards for hallmark.For those of you who
don't know who Eddie Mahe is. Mr Mahe has a reputation
for being one of the dirtest players in the
campaign business.Now I know what Mahe has said
about how he was going help McGavick.But you don't
bring someone like Eddie Mahe in because your going
stay with a positive campaign

Plus I think that the Club for Growth will
run some negative ads as well.Who knows the club
for growth has a pretty impressive record when
they get involved in campaigns.

Posted by: Phil Spackman on October 9, 2006 01:36 PM
23. Dinesh @9, does your statement mean that you will vote for Dino in 08 so that the Senate and Executive are different parties?

Monroe Parent @8 - You trash McGavick based on the actions of someone clear across the country. Why not look at the support NAMBLA has received from Democrats and tell us if that is a better case for "guilt by association".

Posted by: SouthernRoots on October 9, 2006 01:50 PM
24. Question: Assuming the record will be unsealed, and I think it will be, which situation will be the most damaging to the Democrats?

A. Having the Cantwell/Dotzauer story break while she is a sitting Dem. Senator?

B. Having the story break when she is a former Dem. Senator?

This next leads me to wonder if the story is more or less likely to break if Sen. Cantwell is re-elected? There would certainly be more political interest, but power also brings influence and protection. If she is not re-elected, will anyone still care about having the record unsealed and would the public still be interested in the story?

Posted by: Elaine on October 9, 2006 01:52 PM
25. Eric,
Your comments about Guthrie's donation to his campaign are laughable, considering what McGavick and Cantwell put into their own campaigns. is that all you are, a flack for McGavick?

Posted by: mark on October 9, 2006 04:02 PM
26. Mark - tell you what, when Guthrie starts spending the money he intially pledged (at which time I did take him seriously), rather than just "loaning" it to his campaign temporarily to get into the KING 5 debate then we'll talk.

Posted by: Eric Earling on October 9, 2006 04:05 PM
27. hey look Phils back! when you get a moment go over to Postman's blog and read how associates All of the SP participants as tools of the mainstream Washingotn State GOP. No conservatives here at SP according to Spackman.

Well Phil, in between guest shots on Goldstiens show and your "contibutions" over at Postman I am certain most of the regulars here at SP have been able to judge just how much of a conservative you are. Personaly, I would rather lose without you, than win with you if winning means we have to be bored with your constant diatribe of negative comments and whining.

Posted by: Smokie on October 9, 2006 04:38 PM
28. CnR @ #16, aka Conservative not Republican, Steve, etc. is gone because he's been permanently banned.

On a somewhat related note, was anyone else amused that JDB thinks a column by Michael Kinsley is going to sway the readers of Sound Politics? That's like expecting a liberal to get concerned if Robert Novak is tearing into them. Shear genius.

Posted by: Eric Earling on October 9, 2006 05:49 PM
29. Monroe parent, I am a Republican and I take supreme unbrage at your generalization.

In honor of that, since we are taggin the opposing parties with the traits that most characterize them, shall I call you a rectum-shagging, unwashed, dope-smoking out-of-jail illegal alien?

Posted by: ERNurse on October 9, 2006 06:17 PM
30. Eric:

Glad you are ammused. So rare at a blog famous for its collective lack of a sense of humor.

First of all, I assume that more people read this board than just the mouth breathers like Soup for Brains (and why is he fixated with wanting to give me a blow job? What a tired ol' queer. I'm surprised you all haven't banned him for his language and being off topic..., I guess that only happens to liberals). Given the rate that people are moving in the Democrat's direction, I'm sure there are even a few of your long time readers who will check out the other side.

Second, I note you cannot rebut what Kinsley is saying. And it is telling with how bad the McGavick campaign has been run, and how desperate you all are to throw dirt if you can.

Third, I'm not a fool, Novak hasn't got where he is because of worship from the right. It is stupid to ignore those the other side listens to.

But I am glad you read the article. It is good for you to get a little reality into your life.

Posted by: JDB on October 9, 2006 08:58 PM
31. JDB - Why would I spend the time rebutting a column I think is totally laughable and devoid of substance, like a lot of Kinsley's work? And your response really doesn't answer my original question, why the heck do you think anywhere here cares what Kinsley says?

Posted by: Eric Earling on October 9, 2006 09:31 PM
32. What's his name, jdb/biteme/blowjob?

Posted by: alphabet soup on October 9, 2006 09:33 PM
33. Eric,

I generally like your entries, but I find little as tiresome as persons setting themselves up as campaign prognosticators on internet blogs. Policy is one thing, but there is a reason that people who get paid to offer political advice don't do it in public and in print. Your comments regarding the need to elevate negatives might be appropriate in a late night strategy session with the candidate but they are certain to be misinterpreted by the vast majority of people who are largely unfamiliar with the role of tactics in political outcomes. Anyway, if you are offering your advice here for free it stands to reason that you are not being paid for it. Perhaps you should work on exploring that angle.

If moving the ball forward for R campaigns isn't the objective, it leaves this reader suspicious that you are simply parading your intelligence. There is nothing wrong with being smart, but I'd rather you spend your energies helping candidates (most of whom could use it) rather than giving the perpetually unsophisticated ammunition to reinforce beliefs that Rs are only tacticians.

Posted by: Constructive Criticism on October 9, 2006 10:12 PM
34. Eric:

You need to work on your reading comp. However, just for you, I'll quote myself:

First of all, I assume that more people read this board than just the mouth breathers like Soup for Brains (and why is he fixated with wanting to give me a blow job? What a tired ol' queer. I'm surprised you all haven't banned him for his language and being off topic..., I guess that only happens to liberals). Given the rate that people are moving in the Democrat's direction, I'm sure there are even a few of your long time readers who will check out the other side.

If U(sp) has really sunk so low that it is nothing but the choir, how sad for all of you. When I first started posting here, there was actually some good debate and some open minds. Admittedly, after the election trial, there was the purge of many of us from the opposite side, so this place has become a bit stale. However, I would think that the readership here isn't limited to just the amend choir.

If that is true, forgive my assumption that this board still had some relevancy.

Posted by: JDB on October 9, 2006 10:46 PM
35. Now, having answered your question twice, care to answer mind and explain what Kinsley got wrong?

Posted by: JDB on October 9, 2006 10:47 PM
36. Fact is jdb/biteme/blowjob, no one GAS what you think. The fact that you keep returning here in your pathetic attempts at derision belies any notion you might claim of Soundpolitics dimunition.

Since you refuse to call the host of this site by his proper name you will be forever known as jdb/biteme/blowjob the blowjob king.

BTW: You couldn't open your mind with a pick-axe (although I'd be willing to try ;'}

Posted by: alphabet soup on October 9, 2006 11:01 PM
37. Bruce Guthrie getting into the debates with that investment is money well spent enough for me.

He has already gone through tens of thousands of dollars and has earned and spent more than any Libertarian candidate in Washington history.

You may say about his loan that it was a stunt to get him into the debates, but Dang what a perfect landing.

Do any of you think you could stick with the issues and how the candidate responds to them instead of how much fracking money they spend/earn/make/etc?

Cantwell cast a key vote getting conservative Alito into office. She voted for the war, homeland security, the patriot act and the list goes on too long. She's a better republican than McGavick might be, though I'll let him speak for himself.

I am sick of the two party sham, and that alone would get me voting outside the two party lien.

Lucky for me, Bruce is an intellegent and grounded candidate. He has my support AND my vote.

Posted by: ScottLibertyL on October 9, 2006 11:05 PM
38. Oh come on jdb you phony little knob-polisher you - don't you have a response? Why can't you just show the least bit of respect and call the site owner by his name?

We're all anxious to hear every little pointy-headed thing you have to say! Just say it....I know you can! C'mon....just say it!

Posted by: alphabet soup on October 10, 2006 07:11 PM
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