Friday, September 16, 2022


A few days ago, The Bulwark's Jonathan Last told us that he's worried about Doug Mastriano's gubernatorial campaign in Pennsylvania. Last noted that Mastriano -- "the most extreme, openly Christian nationalist candidate in living memory" -- was, as of September 8, trailing Democrat Josh Shapiro by only 6.9 points, according to the FiveThirtyEight polling average, despite doing nothing to reach out to non-conservative voters in a purple state. Last quoted a CNN account of Mastriano's campaign approach (it's by Chris Cillizza, but it sticks to the facts):
Mastriano ... doesn’t appear to have any interest in hedging any of his positions or doing any sort of outreach to groups beyond his hardcore base of supporters. Quite the opposite, in fact.

A recent article from the Philadelphia Inquirer makes plain just how different the campaign that Mastriano is running really is. Here’s the key bit:

“As he tours the Commonwealth, Mastriano has essentially walled himself off from the general public, traveling within a bubble of security guards and jittery aides who aim to not only keep him safe, but ensure he only comes into contact with true believers” ...

Mastriano also rarely engages with any media that is not overtly friendly to him. He conducts Facebook Live events and does interviews in places like the One America News Network but simply refuses to talk to any more mainstream outlets....

Mastriano is also being drastically outspent on television ads by his Democratic opponent, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro. According to Axios, Mastriano has yet to spend any—yes you read that right—money on TV ads for the general election campaign....
Last frets:
... how confident are you that polls are adequately capturing Mastriano’s support? After all, his entire campaign is based on the idea that he is going to reach a bunch of people who exist outside the current political dynamic and bring them out with his shofar army.

Speaking only for myself, I am not confident at all.
We all felt burned by the presidential polls in 2016. The polls in 2020 weren't much better. So Last worries that Mastriano is about to pull off a Trump 2016 upset.

I'm not so worried. According to a new Monmouth poll, Josh Shapiro just jumped out to an 18-point lead.
More than half of potential voters say they will either definitely (33%) or probably (21%) vote for Shapiro in November. Just over one-third currently feel they will definitely (21%) or probably (15%) vote for Mastriano. Significantly more Pennsylvania voters say they definitely will not vote for Mastriano (45%) than the number who completely rule out Shapiro (28%). Among voters who identify as Democrats, 66% say they are definitely prepared to support Shapiro now and just 2% have definitely ruled him out. Among Republicans, 47% say they are definitely prepared to support Mastriano now while 13% have definitely ruled him out....

Shapiro has a decidedly positive personal rating of 55% favorable to 33% unfavorable, while Mastriano holds a net negative rating of 36% favorable to 48% unfavorable.
This is the fourth poll this month in which Shapiro has a double-digit lead: Shapiro leads by 11 according to CBS, by 19 according to Echelon Insights, and by 21 according to Center Street PAC. Will the race be a blowout? Probably not, but I feel pretty good about this one.

I mention this because Ron DeSantis appears to have started the 2024 presidential campaign with his stunt immigration flight. Right-wingers are over the moon -- in the next polls of the race for the 2024 Republican nomination, I'm sure DeSantis will significantly close the gap between himself and Donald Trump, or possibly take the lead. But does this stunt have any appeal to the moderate voters DeSantis will presumably need to win the general election in 2024? Does DeSantis ever do anything to appeal to them?

Obviously, DeSantis is not trailing in his current race -- he leads by a comfortable margin. But as governor of Florida, he's an incumbent. He won't be an incumbent when he runs for president.

Unlike Mastriano, DeSantis will do mainstream advertising when he runs -- he's amassing a nine-figure war chest for a reason. But he does avoid talking to the non-right-wing media. He does treat everyone to his left as the enemy. And unlike Trump, he's not compelling on TV, and he's never a happy warrior. So he might be the nominee and then go down to defeat following a base-only strategy.

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