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February 04, 2010

Time: How Republicans Could, If Everything Including the Kirk Race Breaks Their Way, Get to Ten

Just basically putting meat on the bones of Mallamutt's list.

Long story short: Assuming Kirk wins, we have a pretty good shot at getting eight, and at least putting ourselves into a good position to win the Senate in 2012.

Those last two, however, are going to be a bitch. We'd need not one but two improbable Brown-esque victories in very blue states.

Broken record time: To win the Senate at all we need blue state wins -- and a fair number of them, too -- and I continue not understanding how liberal states that voted for Obama by outsized margins of 65-35 are suddenly going to elect Tom Coburn style conservatives as Senators.

And let's talk about Scott Brown. Scott Brown didn't just win on ideology. I didn't even know his ideology when I decided he'd win. I just knew he was the sort of candidate who wins -- good looking, energetic, friendly, articulate, and with a great family. Those daughters? Central casting.

And that Cosmo spread helped him. Seriously -- not only was there the hunk factor, but that spread helped overcome one of the biggest prejudices against conservatives or Republicans, that we're all a bunch of no-fun prudes.

Scott Brown, in short, was the perfect candidate.

And he faced, quite possibly, the worst candidate in the past ten years.

And what did he win by?


Now, I got silly looking just at the comparison between Coakley and Brown and predicted 11. I did forget how liberal and Democratic and Obama-loving Massachusetts was, for a bit.

But our perfect candidate versus their worst candidate in a Republican year? A bare five-point victory in a blue state.

So yeah, when we talk about Scott Brown, we also have to acknowledge non-ideological factors at work here, and realize they are unlikely to be replicated very often, if at all.

Scott Brown made a bit of hawkishness and fiscal conservatism seem cool.

We need candidates like that, and should promote the hell out of them wherever we find them.

But in fact such candidates, who can persuade through force of personality and likability alone, are in fact few and far between.

Bear in mind we're excited (well, I am) that Dan Coats has entered the race against Evan Bayh.

Now, is Coats like some kind superstar? No, he's not. He's just a name, a guy who's won before, respected well enough, someone with name recognition and some small amount of goodwill from his previous service. (Not all much -- he served quite a while ago. Most people don't even remember him.)

But Coats is what is considered a strong candidate, a real get.

I'm not trying to put him down, but look: That is what we call a strong candidate. And he's not really all that strong.

We can't be unrealistic and just imagine we're going to have telegenic, energetic, appealing candidates who are dynamite with retail politics and have a pair of gorgeous daughters running in every race.

With the perfect candidate against a weak candidate, you can win in blue states, in a Republican year, by... five points.

What happens when you have a merely good candidate against a good candidate from the other party?

My point is that it's hard enough for a Republican to win in a blue state. It is all too much to insist they also take a bunch of positions which are unpopular in their states and win even burdened with that additional disadvantage.

Sure, if they won, we'd be more pleased.

But there's the problem: If. They actually won't win.

If another Scott Brown comes along, I'd encourage him to gamble a bit and take a bunch of unpopular conservative positions and trust that his innate strength as a candidate would be enough to squeak him past the finish line.

But if we have the normal sort of candidate -- merely average to somewhat good -- well, look: he's not going to win in a blue state if he's towing the national Republican line on every issue. If such a candidate could win on that platform, it wouldn't be a blue state in the first place.

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posted by Ace at 03:59 PM

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