Flava Flav knows It Takes Two... So should State House Candidates

I was going to get away from my computer for a while and watch TV, but it was just too bizarre. Flava Flav was kissing "Sweetie" and "New York" was getting upset... And what about "Hoops" and "Goldie"? How will Flavor of Love end up? Which one will he pick as his betrothed? Stay tuned to VH1 and find out.

Ugh. Now I remember why I don't watch much TV. I'm going back to politics....

I had something pointed out to me today on a House political race where a Republican is considering running as a single Republican candidate in a House district against two Democrats. My friend thinks this is wise because of the vote totals for the prior race.

The vote totals for the 2004 race came out about:

Dem1 27%
Dem2 31%
GOP1 22%
GOP2 18%

The rationale' that the new candidate is using in running alone is that GOP2 sucked enough votes from GOP1 to ensure that neither one of them would win. He's thinking that without GOP2, GOP1 would have had 30-40% and won the race.

But I would disagree. I don't think it works that way. The voters he needs to attract are not the ones who voted for his running mate. He needs to attract the swing voters who voted for the DEMS.

In this district, it looks to me that each candidate is going to start fairly close in vote totals. I'm guessing that baseline is about at the 15 to 20% range. After that point, you have to work hard to pull the remaining 20-40% undecided.

With four opponents - two each party - I think there would be a more equitable distribution of the votes, actually making the race a little tighter. In 2004, ths race was not a blowout. In this case, were the 18% candidate gone, the beneficiary of larger margins will automatically be the incumbents, the Democrats. If the automatic margins are smaller because more people are in the race, you don't have to move as many people towards you to pick off one of those seats. Both of them would be great, but one is better than none.

In the case of a single party member against 2 in a dual ticket race, the fact is that people will not bullet vote. The simply see that the ballot says "You may vote for two" and they do. In the case of a strong Republican voter, they will vote for the single Republican. And then they will turn right around and vote against him by casting a ballot for one of the Democrats. The next strong Republican will vote again for the Republican, and then possibly vote against him by voting for the other Democrat.

It's a vicious cycle where one of the first rules of politics - cultivate your base - is thrown out the window. In this instance, if they vote for two, your base of strong Republicans is going to vote against you each and every time they cast a ballot. "One for you, one for D, Two for you, Two for D." They can't help it.

At the same time, the strong Democrats are not going to lose those votes. Because they can vote for both Democrats, and not even bother with the R.

But in deference to the opinions of the candidate, the argument about ticket splitters has to be addressed. Could ticket splitters hold the key to victory in this case? Much depends on the number of swing voters in the district. I'd look at the historical data to see how much ticket splitting the area does as one indicator. It could provide hope. but I'm a doubting thomas on that.

Because you are still faced with the fact that your core - your base voters - are all forced to split the ticket whether they want to or not. They are more likely to split the ticket than to bullet vote.

My recommendation? Dilute the pool of voters. Stretch it out between four candidates making margins closer. Then put the lion's share of the efforts towards one of the R's. And then some party involved on the GOP's side needs to start hitting hard on wedge issues.

This race is very winnable for a GOP candidate to pick off at least one seat. As long as he remembers it takes two to dilute the margin of victory. A thinner margin means there is more of a possibility to win.


Anonymous said…
Which district might you be talking about? I think I may know which one. Any hints?
Anonymous said…
I think I know too. Two nice guy Dems who keep getting re-elected because they are nice guys, not because they are able to accomplish anything. Maybe the Rep strategy should be to educate voters that they only need vote for one candidate, not two. That's all it would take.
Anonymous said…
Could it possibly be #8?
PP said…
Who is up at 2AM windering this stuff.?
Anonymous said…
OK, it's district 8. Who is the person who could win on the Republican side?
Anonymous said…
Know of any names floating around?
Douglas said…
It isn't just Republican candidates who think like this. I have listened to same arguments and watched one Democrat get beat worse than Two would have and still worse than if there had been 6 primary candidates.

Every race is an excuse for press coverage. There is no press coverage if there is no contest.

Voters get to the voting booth and wonder, "Who is this guy?"

Your mileage may vary of course, but lots of "common sense" just isn't.

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