Wednesday, September 22, 2010


After the primary day on which Christine O'Donnell and Carl Paladino won, I considered writing a post saying that Paladino, despite what should have been political career-killing racist and pornographic e-mail forwards, probably had a better chance of winning than O'Donnell, because she was being rendered ridiculous (her witchcraft remarks hadn't come out, but we knew all about her views on masturbation), while Paladino had merely been exposed as a bigot and infantile blowhard, which might actually appeal to certain voters, especially white males, in a year like this.

I never wrote the post because I decided he was still too much of a long shot -- it was likely that he'd lose some votes to the guy he beat in the GOP primary, Rick Lazio, who's still on the ballot as a Conservative Party candidate, and it seemed likely that as voters, especially non-white and non-macho voters, learned more about Paladino, his star would fall.

I still half-suspect it'll work that way, but, based on the new Quinnipiac poll, I'd say all bets are off:

Republican Carl Paladino, aided by a 4 -1 margin among Tea Partiers, trails New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic candidate for Governor, 49 - 43 percent among likely voters, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today....

Now, let me point out that Paladino gets 43% even though only 36% of poll respondents have a favorable opinion of him. (The other numbers: 31% unfavorable, 31% don't know.) So some people are just saying, "I can't tell you what I think of this guy, but the hell with it, I'm voting for him anyway." That's a desperate electorate.

The poll samples "likely voters." No definition is offered, but another recent Quinnipiac poll defines "likely voters" as "people who have voted in past elections."

What worries me is that this will be an election in which people who don't vote frequently are likely to come out and vote GOP/tea party, to flip the bird to the whole system.

Cuomo has to find specific voter groups -- non-whites, church groups, whoever -- and remind them, gently but insistently, that Paladino thinks stuff like this is amusing and harmless:

As I said yesterday, he needs to contrast doing actual work on behalf of the citizenry with being a big-mouthed saloon lout who's all talk. And that's just for starters.

But, yeah, now I can really see that Paladino could win. And you know what? Screw it. If we can elect Paladino, Sharron Angle, war criminal Allen West, Rand Paul, Dan Bicycles Are a UN Plot" Maes,* and, who the hell knows, maybe even O'Donnell, then have them in power, and not become revulsed as a nation, then maybe we deserve whatever they do.

Look, you and I know how crazy these people are. Most voters don't, and, since all these people are running against Democrats, chances are the voters never will know until after the crazies are sworn in. I have a somewhat low opinion of the ability of the U.S. public to absorb facts, but it's not that low. I think Democrats just can't ever figure out how to frame these nutjobs. But their plans when they're in office will be another story. Remember, these folks are going to have to govern through an economic Lost Decade, too. The public really might not have any more patience with them than with Obama and Pelosi and Reid. Especially if they're actively calling for the evisceratation of what's left of the social safety net.

*UPDATE: Well, as marindenver reminds me in comments, Maes is actually trailing badly. My error.

No comments: