Monday, October 25, 2010

Crazy yet quiet - my negligent blogging

The election news is increasingly frantic, yet there is much less to actually report. This is the period in the election cycle where the cake has basically been baked, and we’re just trying to figure out what sort of icing it will have. Crap icing, or PCP-laced icing?

For the record, I’m predicting a vanilla-iced cake. Republicans control the House, and Democrats narrowly control the Senate. Don’t ask me for specific numbers right now, I haven’t looked at it that closely. I won’t be making a specific House prediction, though I will probably at some point look at the Senate races and the US House races in Pennsylvania.

But generally speaking, I haven’t blogged much recently because there hasn’t been much to write about. The news is increasingly poll-driven and less substance-driven. A poll is not a news story, at least most of the time.

I was going to say that I was viewing this election stoically and fatalistically (as I often do at this point in the cycle), but it’s more accurate to say that I’m bored with it. I’m peeved at some of the mistakes I see being made, and yet they continue to be made regardless of the warnings sounded by myself and others.

I continue to see people fundamentally misunderstand the swing voter and the swing district. In one PA House district I’ve been obsessed with for about five years (the 12th), the NRCC is running yet another ad linking the Democrat to Nancy Pelosi. The voters in this particular district have a history of not responding to this type of ad despite Pelosi’s strong negatives there.

Guess what, guys: it hasn’t worked before, and it probably won’t move any numbers this time either. It’s called empiricism.

Here’s the TV ad formula that everybody should have been running all cycle: [Congressman X] voted for [policy Y], and that hurt [jobs and/or voters’ wallets].  Throw in some fancy graphics and ominous music, and voila: instant TV spot.  The more campaigns and campaign committees stray from this formula, the worse they will do. The sooner campaigns stop getting into petit wars over who is more (non-specifically) “extreme”, the better they will do.  (I'm looking at you, Toomey camp.)

Of course, we’ll still win a ton of races, so all the idiot consultants will still come out looking like geniuses. Victory has a thousand fathers; defeat is an orphan.  Those marginal losses in tough districts will be chalked up to the fact that they were tough districts.  Nobody will examine real causes for these losses.

But it’s out of my hands, and I’ve said most of this before, so all I can do is embrace fatalism.

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