Sunday, October 5, 2008

Grading Matthew Tully's Political Analysis - Factors Affecting the Election

In today's Indianapolis Star, columnist Matthew Tully identifies 10 important factors to the outcome of the upcoming election. Let me grade his factors.

1. New Voters - Tully is right on the mark on this one. Republicans were foolish to laugh at the Democrats having a highly contested primary for President. That primary resulted in the registration of tens if not hundreds of thousands of new voters, many of which will vote Democrat on Election Day. Republicans take it as gospel that a contested primary is always a bad thing. I think the Democrats are going to prove otherwise this election.

2. Crossover voting. - Tully correctly points out that a number of Democrats will cross over and vote for Daniels. That's true. But I think there are a number of Democrats, in particular, in the southern part of the state who are going to vote McCain for President and Jill Long Thompson for Governor. So crossover could work both ways in this election. It should be noted though that the last time a Democrat President ran ahead of a Democrat candidate for Governor in Indiana was 1976. Usually the Democrats candidate for Governor is several points ahead of the Democrats candidate for President. I don't think that will happen this time, but it's worth noting.

3. The Economy. - Absolutely. It's a huge issue. McCain comes across as very uncomfortable talking about economic concerns. McCain and Obama both seem at a loss to come up with a coherent economic plan. However, since the Republicans are perceived as "in power" since they have the White House, they will also get the blame.

4. Long Thompson ads - The two recent polls show that Daniels has a 4 and 1 point lead over his Jill Long Thompson in the Governor's race. JLT should be able to leverage those polls to get back on the air. I have been one saying for quite some time that that race is far from over. Now I'm starting to get the impression that the Daniels' people are not taking the threat seriously. There seems to be a lack of concern about poll results showing the race is tight. Certainly the message that Indiana is better off than other states is a tough sell in an economic downturn. If JLT has an effective media strategy for the last few weeks of the campaign, she might be able to pull it out.

5. Daylight Savings Time - I tell my students that just because a certain percentage of people line up one way or another on a poll doesn't mean that they vote that same way on the issue. The fact is the anti-DST people have not forgotten and many will vote on that issue while with the pro-DST moved on to other issues. The issue is going to cost Daniels more voters than it will gain.

6. Race - It's an issue, but Tully misses the fact that the issue cuts both ways. There are people who will vote against Obama because he's black. But there are also people who will vote for him primarily because he's black. In addition, I expect African-American turnout to be huge on Election Day, a factor that helps Obama.

7. Lake County - Absolutely a big factor. Look for an enormous turnout and a major electoral fraud scandal not only with Lake County but also Marion.

8. Marion County - This is a big whiff for Tully. Does he seriously believe Daniels will win Marion County? That's not going to happen in the face of a huge pro-Obama turnout in Marion County. As far as renewed Republican strength in Marion County, let's be honest. What happened in November 2007 has most to do with the Marion County Democrats' ineptitude, scandal and an incumbent Mayor who decided to commit political suicide weeks before the election. While we all admired Mayor Ballard's commitment to cleaning up government and his stand on ethics issues, once elected he let his administration be taken over by throwback Republicans who are busy stealing everything that isn't nailed down in the city. My Marion County Republican Party will pay dearly for those ethical lapses and unabated conflicts of interest. It will probably cost us any chance of winning the Mayor's office for the next 20 years. If Tully knew how angry Indianapolis Republicans are at their own Mayor and his discarding the ethics platform on which he was elected, he would not be suggesting that a unified, energized Marion County Republican Party is going to boost Daniels.

9. Southern Indiana - I agree southern Indiana is the key for the election, not only for President and Governor, but also for the more baseline races like Attorney General and Superintendent of Public Instruction. I expect it is the only area of the state where JLT will run ahead of Obama.

10. Ground game - Obviously this is an area where I think Obama has an advantage. Daniels also has an advantage though not as large of one as I think Tully believes it is. JLT should be able to attract a lot of union types to try to match the Republicans' efforts.

Tully missed maybe the No. 1 factor - Intensity. Intensity can turn a close election in the polls into a blow out. I keep comparing this election to 1980. The polls showed Reagan with a small lead going into Election Day. Reagan ended up winning a huge victory and carried quite a number of other Republicans into office, including some who were double digits behind in the polls. I'm afraid my fellow Republicans are going to wake up on November 5th, shell-shocked by the result not only of the race for President, but races all over the country.

I give Tully a B for his analysis. I don't quite get #8 and he totally missed the most important factor - intensity. The other nine factors he cited though are right on the money.

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