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April 29, 2010

Charlie Crist: Fool

That's Jay Cost's analysis. He thinks Crist is pretty much doomed.

It's a read the whole thing sort of thing, but I'll see if I can't grab a little here and there:

One, Independents don't win elections to the US Senate in three-way contests. Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman are in office because one party or the other implicitly backed them. That isn't going to happen here. By my count, the last candidate to win election to the Senate as an Independent (other than Sanders and Lieberman) was Harry Byrd of Virginia. He won in 1976 because the Republicans did not run a candidate. This is not coincidental.

Voters vote their partisanship, and most voters are partisan. The 2008 exit poll found that the Florida electorate was 37% Democrat, 34% Republican, and 29% Independent. I'd note that the exit polls don't ask Independents how they lean. Gallup asks that question, and that's why they currently find that only 12% of Americans are "pure" Independents.

Voters are also strategic. Remember the New Jersey governor's race? Independent Christopher Daggett was polling at 10%, but only got 5.8% on Election Day. there's a reason for that. American elections are winner take all, which makes it very difficult for third parties to thrive. Once voters catch wind that a vote for a third party candidate is a waste, they'll bail on that candidate.


Second, it would be hard to come up with a strategy that goes against the zeitgeist as much as Crist's decision to run as an Independent. Congressional job approval is getting so low that only members of Congress and their staff approve of the job the legislature is doing. And why? Ask people you know in life and they'll complain about politicians who are only out for themselves, who aren't looking out for the interests of the people. And now here comes good old Charlie Crist, who just a few weeks ago swore off an Independent run. This is a dishonest and nakedly self-interested move, and voters are fed up with this kind of behavior. The only compelling motivation that Charlie Crist has to run as an Independent is so that Charlie Crist can stay in elective office. That is not good enough in a year like 2010.


His political career will be over in just a few short months. What a fool.

Jim Geraghty writes a column with a similar theme -- Crist is an idiot -- but mostly on the basis of policy and poor political choices.

And here's Crist promising to do what he previously perceived to be in his own best interests a month ago. This should play well. Especially given that Crist has no good answer as to why he's now repudiating his beloved "Party of Abraham Lincoln." And, come on, there's not a voter in the state who believes this to be a decision of principle.

Check out Crist's website, too:

“Instead of being open and honest with voters and owning up to the thousands of dollars that remain unaccounted for from his political committees and releasing his tax returns, the Rubio campaign would prefer to spread baseless rumors.

“To put these rumors to rest once and for all, as we have said countless times before, Governor Crist is running for the United States Senate as a Republican. He will not run as an Independent or as a No Party Affiliation.

“The Governor is proud of his conservative credentials and stands firmly behind the principles of limited government and more personal freedom, the bedrock values of the Republican Party. He is proud to be a member of the Party of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan.

“This should completely and utterly put to rest any of the unfounded rumors coming from the Rubio campaign that Governor Crist would run as anything other than the Republican that he is.”

In the large and expanding universe of political lies, lying about one's intentions about seeking office or running as this or that is one of the lesser sorts of lies. To an extent, everyone will "understand" (as in, partly forgive) Crist's lies and broken promises about this, as they understand that, being a politician, he says what he says and does what he does to get elected.

But that's still a lie, and Crist really can't make up for it by articulating a compelling rationale for his new-found devotion to "The Party of Bernie Sanders." The state has a lot of Obama supporters, and I suppose he could make a play for those, but why wouldn't they support the Obama-endorsed candidate, Kendrick Meeks?

He can try for voters fed up with both parties, but the trouble with those people is they typically don't vote. Even if he were to inspire them to vote, those votes wouldn't be coming out of Rubio's hide. They'd basically be fresh voters no one was expecting to show up, and will get him into double-digits, and that's about it.

And he's the wrong sort of person to tap into such anger, anyway. He's not a passionate, crusading Howard Beale type. He's a cautious -- timid, really -- calculating establishment poll-watcher.

If Crist attempts making himself over into some "Mad as Hell" revolutionary, it promises to be an election filled with comedy, and pathos.

Charlie Crist

Bold New Leadership.*

* Disclaimer: Leadership is neither bold, nor new, and also is not leadership. But he does look a little like the guy who played J. Peterman on Seinfeld.


The Guy Who Played J. Peterman on Seinfeld

He knows George's ATM code is "Bosco" and is fluent in Gibberish.

Crist Offering Donors Prorated Refunds: Prorated, I guess, so he can keep half or more of the money, and claim he gets to keep his the prorated share of it to reflect the time he spent as a Republican.

Where Will Crist's Money Come From? It's not like he's a charismatic new face with a compelling story. Democratic money will tend to go to the Democrat, with a little tossed Crist's way in order to help him mount a spoiler campaign against Rubio.

GOP money will 95% go to Rubio. The GOP tends to be establishment, and Crist is breaking the polite rules of politics (run in the primary, if you lose, support the winner). Even the smallish number of folks who are inclined to vote for a squish aren't going to like the selfish, spoiler aspect of his bid.

As the usually excellent Drew noted, even David Frum is bothered by the spoilsport nature of Crist's self-serving jump.

Online donations from out of state liberals and "moderate" Republicans? I guess I can see Kos pimping Crist a lot, trying to get him nutroots money. But that's not going to be a welter of money, like Scott Brown saw.

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posted by Ace at 02:17 PM

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