Monday, October 31, 2005

In Response to Neil: Hackett v Brown 2006

Responding to Neil here. First of all, you gotta have EW comments, so your friends can respond on your blog without the same atmosphere as ezra's. I'm really proud of you for having a long conversation with Sirota about this and sticking up for party unity, but didn't feel like adding anything at this late date.

Anyway, I really like the first comment in response to your hackett v brown post. it kinda nails everything I think.

I think this primary is less about the candidates issue positions as it is about being able to beat DeWine. The differences between the 2 candidates on the issues is marginal at best, if you take Hacketts OH-2 and recent statements at face value.
has a run down on core principles.

Healthcare ? No rookie Senator is going to be trailblazing the healthcare solution - it's how they would vote on someone elses that matters, and i think both Brown and Hackett would vote the right way.

the troubling thing I see right now is how Brown isnt handling the pressure too well.
Put asides his ham fisted entry into the race, and look at his recent oops
As an example.

If you have spent any time following Ohio politics you would know the game plan that someone like Brown is going to face next year. It's the same game plan the GOP have deployed to great effect for the last decade, and the same one they are currently running against Reform Ohio Now. Brown makes a perfect target for this Weak, indecision, liberal, gays, guns, god.

One only needs to read the Ohio papers to see he isnt going to get a clean run. The Sirota made up planted quote is an example of what Brown faces - Hackett doesnt have to charge "liberal" because the Ohio red press will do it for him, as they did.

Hackett is already getting incredible amounts of free earned media because of his persona and biography - he is clearly a candidate that the press likes to cover - he has that X factor that Brown simply doesn't.

Brown clearly has the edge in a primary right now, because of the money and his NE roots where the bulk of the Dem votes come from - the problem is neither of those qualities is enough for him to beat DeWine without further Ohio GOP meltdown - something which DeWine is somewhat removed from.

Finally the other thing Hackett brings beyond the fresh air is credibility on Iraq - and his strong stance on this issue is going to give further backbone to other democrats who are struggling to find a backbone and a voice on this issue.

It seems to me that if you are going to run a 2006 election on the basis of being a change agent then actually running a fresh strong candidate and not an established long time congressman gives that idea and theme more credibility.

If you want a hint at who the Ohio GOP want to face, consider what they are saying

Mostly, i'm just immensely paranoid about the ability of any democrat to win in Ohio. We've been suffering from this "45% solid dem 55% solid republicans and so the republicans get to control everything" for a lot longer than the rest of the nation ( since early 90's, not including John Glenn, and neither of these guys are John Glenn, though Hackett's the closest.) Seeing another union Democrat who is not particularly exciting for the MSM (first time i've ever used that anachronym btw) run makes me already feel like another beautiful shot has been lost.

But as August 2nd demonstrates, I am underestimating the ability of Democrats in Ohio. Or maybe I just underestimated the ability of Hackett?

The biggest question is, would a post-primary Brown use his network to help Hackett win? Because it's pretty clear that Hackett's media persona with Brown's network is the best combination. Which is why that a primary would be so sad, because it makes that result pretty unlikely. Short of that, you get tough questions, like will Hackett be able to make his own network or find another? Will Brown find any traction with the media, or like most non-ultra-charismatic democrats, will his media image only deteriotate over time*? What's more important, the network or the persona? These are tough empirical questions, and there are reasonable sets of answers to them that suggest supporting either candidate.

I disagree with the "primaries are good for the party thing" in this case. Usually I agree with it a lot, especially in presidential elections. 2004 showcased Democrats and got them a lot of news attention, such that both members of the Dem ticket were household names well before summer. And I like open democratic (small d) debate. But the more local a race, they're less useful. In a presidential election, it's all about the best media persona, and it's clear that the whole party will band together to defeat the opposing party in the end. Here, a primary would hurt either winner: Brown would get attacks of being too far to the left (even if Hackett is angelic on this matter, this is simply the narrative that forms in a moderate v non-moderate primary, and it's all some pundits know to say). And Hackett would lose access to the network that helped him so much in 2005. So vigorous blogospheric (and partisan magazine!) discussions are desired... in order to head-off a primary. And Hackett and Brown are sitll buddy buddy enough that I think they are going to work something out eventually.

I mostly mentioned electability concerns. Well, yeah. A freshman senator isn't going to be responsible for creating healthcare. And Ohio is noOklahoma or Mississippi where once you're in office incumbency means a guaranteed long career. These guys will both be running serious re-election efforts every six years, and often having to run against a Republican presidential ticket that will likely carry the state. Post-election, it seems we know little about the behavior of either, except to say Hackett's pro-free-trade stance and authoritative voice on military concerns probably balances with Brown's more reliable record.

*I'm kinda confused by Neil here, since your enthusiasm for Edwards has shown how important charisma+populist message is. I had thought you had gotten the point that our atmosphere is antagonistic to economic-populist messages, and it takes a really charismatic leader to get them through.


At 6:42 PM, Blogger Neil Sinhababu said...

Okay, Tony, I'll open up the EW comments in the future. I just wanted to make sure that people didn't make claims in one discussion that got good responses in the other and not know about it.

I should've said the following: Somebody needs to ask Hackett in a neutral setting about health care to see what he says. Does he start talking in vague terms about universal coverage and the huge problems with the current system? If so, good for him. It's bad news if he starts talking about how we have the best health care in the world and the free market rocks.

I don't know how to do the electability math here properly -- all the considerations you discuss are important, and on top of that I can't figure out how hard it will be for Democrats to win Ohio in scandal-torn 06.

On the Edwards point, I actually hold that economic populism is strategically good, and that Edwards-style moralized economic populism is totally awesome.

Thanks for the comment re: Sirota. I'm feeling that I held my own, and told him in no uncertain terms what the biggest problem with his writing is. I'm dreaming that it'll change him, but I know that's probably an empty fantasy.

At 9:35 AM, Blogger Rousseau said...

Asking Hackett about that would indeed be good. The lack of issues page on his website is a little sad.

I wish I could say "whatever, he'll vote the way his party votes if they ever actually got a healthcare package to the floor". But as the 93 healthcare debacle showed, we do not have that luxury.

As for the battlefield layout, Ohio used to have a strong manufacturing and union base in the north that elected some pretty populist Democrats throughout the ages. Celeste, Gilligan, Metzenbaum. And then rustbeltification shrunk that a little, and suburbanization grew more in Ohio than anywhere else east of the Mississippi, and that balance changed. Not enough to change the power-base of the Democratic party, just enough to make them unable to win the state.

And since 1990, not a single Democrat who's name wasn't John Glenn or Bill Clinton has won a statewide vote. (And Glenn pretty clearly didn't run in 1998 because he didn't want to run against Gov. Voinivich.) They always come pretty close... but always out of reach.

Now it's possible with a scandal-ridden administration, federal and state, that would be enough to give the Democrat with a floor of 45% against an uncharismatic Republican a win, but I really don't know.

What I do know is that a poll has shown Hackett beating DeWine 44-36, but I've heard nothing similar for Brown.

At 3:32 PM, Blogger Neil Sinhababu said...

I believe the Hackett-DeWine poll is Zogby, and I don't know how much to trust Zogby.

At 8:10 AM, Blogger Rousseau said...

...especially in Ohio.

Weirdly, the newspaper he joins with is WSJ. It's hard for me to say "I don't trust the WSJ poll because they overestimate Democrats."

However, no matter what Hackett's numbers were, the point is relative to Brown (allowing for normalization despite bad pollsters), and I have yet to find that.


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