Gordon Smith wants negativity

Charlie Burr

If Gordon Smith wanted to knock Merkley out in a primary, why would he bash Steve Novick on television just days ago? Smith's consultants wouldn't only reach this conclusion this week, right? And if not, why waste time taking shots at Novick on broadcast television?

Here's another theory: Gordon wants as much negativity out there about Merkley and Novick as possible. Which explains the first ad. The new one reflects the disparity of what's on television right now. Merkley's negative ad is already filling the airwaves and this new spot merely balances it out.

But if I'm wrong and Gordon Smith really wants Steve, let's give 'em what he wants. Merkley grossly underestimated Novick this primary and we can only be as lucky to have Smith make the same mistake.

That's how incumbent U.S. Senators lose.

Comments

  • (Show?)
    If Gordon Smith wanted to knock Merkley out in a primary, why would he bash Steve Novick on television just days ago?

    Um... internal tracking polls showing that Merkley's surge continues unabated?

    If Novick and Merkley are doing internal tracking polls then surely Smith is too.

    Merkley grossly underestimated Novick this primary

    Their respective endorsement pages along with the most recent public polling results say otherwise rather emphatically.

  • Emily George (unverified)
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    The flaw in this argument is that the first ad was really mostly an attack on Merkley.

    The Merkley charge (ethics) is something that hurts him across all parties, including Dems.

    The Novick charge (he loves taxes) is something that will primarily hurt Novick with R's and Independents. It may actually have helped Novick with base very liberal Dems.

    It's very obvious Smith wants to run against Novick.

    Only true hard-core Novickites can be deluded into thinking otherwise.

  • (Show?)

    "Their respective endorsement pages along with the most recent public polling results say otherwise rather emphatically."

    You're full of shit. You're not seriously saying that Merkley was planning all along to come from behind and win narrowly? That he always knew Novick would challenge him to the end?

    Then why did Charlie Ringo dismiss his candidacy as unrealistic? Why did Kari Chisholm refer to Novick as Hofstra?

  • Emily George (unverified)
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    The flaw in this argument is that the first ad was really mostly an attack on Merkley.

    The Merkley charge (ethics) is something that hurts him across all parties, including Dems.

    The Novick charge (he loves taxes) is something that will primarily hurt Novick with R's and Independents. It may actually have helped Novick with base very liberal Dems.

    It's very obvious Smith wants to run against Novick.

    Only true hard-core Novickites can be deluded into thinking otherwise.

  • backbeat (unverified)
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    This is all very entertaining but I think the real problem will come in the general when the Democrat has to go up against Mr. Gravitas himself: John Frohnmayer.

  • (Show?)

    Easy, TJ, easy. Enough vitriol for you?

    I agree with Emily: the vast majority of Gordo's negativism has gone against Jeff here and I'd guess he doesn't want to see Jeff. So, take 'em down while you can...

  • Ben Matasar (unverified)
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    Instead of trying to figure out what he means, let's not allow Gordon Smith to tamper with our primary at all.

  • (Show?)

    In my experience, Republican motives are not always what they appear. When Karl Rove attacks Hillary Clinton, for example, I don't automatically assume hurting Hillary is the intended effect. I do fully concede it's possible that Gordon Smith will underestimate Novick. I'm cool with that.

    Kevin: Of course Smith is tracking both candidates, but that's kind of my point. Smith's done so much research on both by now that if he was going to take out one over the other, putting that first spot up wouldn't have made a lot of sense.

  • (Show?)

    "This is all very entertaining but I think the real problem will come in the general when the Democrat has to go up against Mr. Gravitas himself: John Frohnmayer."

    If we choose Novick, that likely won't be a problem. It certainly is less of a problem than if Merkley's the nominee.

  • (Show?)

    I will say this, Charlie. If Novick wins in a few days, I'll personally take great delight in trying to make Smith pay for underestimating Novick. But I stand by the fairly obvious conclusion that he would rather face Steve.

  • (Show?)

    Instead of trying to figure out what he means, let's not allow Gordon Smith to tamper with our primary at all.

    Excellent point. Go Novick!

  • backbeat (unverified)
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    Instead of trying to figure out what he means, let's not allow Gordon Smith to tamper with our primary at all.

    Word. We already had Chuck Schumer, no friend of the Constitution, in our state trying to influence the outcome. I must say I was pleasantly surprised to see that the DSCC ad was against Smith generically.

  • (Show?)

    When Karl Rove attacks Hillary Clinton, for example, I don't automatically assume hurting Hillary is the intended effect.

    Of course in the past two months, Rove, his masters, and his fellow travellers have been playing kissy face with Clinton while savaging Obama.

    I doubt that you're asserting that they want Obama to win.

  • (Show?)
    Kevin: Of course Smith is tracking both candidates, but that's kind of my point. Smith's done so much research on both by now that if he was going to take out one over the other, putting that first spot up wouldn't have made a lot of sense.

    Charlie, it makes perfect sense if Smith's internal numbers more or less reflected the SUSA numbers when he decided to run the first ad.

    Emily is right about the first ad. Any reasonably intelligent progressive could watch that ad and immediately understand that trying to diss Novick on raising taxes can't possibly have been intended to hurt him in a Primary to be decided by the most tax-friendly demographic in the state. Clearly he was more worried about Merkley even then. But he attacked both because the polling showed rough parity.

    Occam's Razor points directly at the polling no longer showing parity between Novick and Merkley.

  • (Show?)

    Hey, what happened to that awful hit piece on Novick? I'm still seeing it on the RSS feed. I know we don't pretend to be unbiased around here, but I'm glad someone realized that was a bit beyond the pale. I think I may have to stay away from here for a while. This place is getting really ugly...

  • (Show?)

    "Emily is right about the first ad. Any reasonably intelligent progressive could watch that ad and immediately understand that trying to diss Novick on raising taxes can't possibly have been intended to hurt him in a Primary"

    Right...it would only hurt him in...a general election. So why attack him for that, unless he was considering the possibility of facing Novick in the general?

    Chasing their tails over what Republicans are plotting is why Democrats lose races. Using Gordon Smith to prop up Jeff Merkley's campaign is really, really desperate.

  • (Show?)

    Pat: Rove and the Republicans rightfully assume Obama will be the nominee at this point. Hell, maybe Smith just assumes Merkley will be the nominee because of his money advantage. I don't know. But I do know that when the speculation arose about Rove helping Clinton by attacking her early in the primary, Matthew Dowd of the Bush/Cheney2004 campaign admitted that they did the same thing four years prior against Edwards. Maybe they were wrong, maybe they were right, but Dowd is on record saying they wanted Kerry so they attacked Edwards. His words, so this is not tin hat stuff.

    On a different note, we're not gonna see eye-to-eye on this primary or maybe agree on a word of it, but I love what you write anyway. So, what happened to the post? You comment here all the time; you should post more frequently. I'm totally with Alworth on this. No reason that everything that goes up need be a tome.

  • Emily George (unverified)
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    I'm not going to respond any further here, other than to say, after reading this and watching the ad, I went to www.jeffmerkley.com and donated $100. I hope others will join me so that Jeff can fight back.

    And no, I don't work for Merkley or any organization backing him.

  • (Show?)

    So, what happened to the post? You comment here all the time; you should post more frequently. I'm totally with Alworth on this. No reason that everything that goes up need be a tome.

    It's pretty much what I said earlier on Jeff's comment thread. I posted, went back about a half hour later and saw your post and Jeff's sandwiching mine and decided that mine was redundant.

  • (Show?)

    "I'm not going to respond any further here, other than to say, after reading this and watching the ad, I went to www.jeffmerkley.com and donated $100. I hope others will join me so that Jeff can fight back."

    Funny, it was just mentioned in the other thread that Rove attacked a candidate so his supporters would give money and rally around--thus making it MORE likely that the person they were NOT attacking would be the nominee.

    Hard not for it to be "plausible" when we know it's already happened before.

  • (Show?)

    Maybe we should take Smith at his word, and he's underestimating Steve the way Chuck Schumer and Jeff Merkley did.

    Or else maybe Smith is playing a weird game of reverse psychology with us.

    Hardly matters. Because neither is a reason to let him screw around in our sandbox.

    We are Democrats and we get to choose the person we want as our standardbearer. Gordo has to take what we choose to dish out. I rather hope he HAS underestimated Steve -- it will be fun to observe as he figures that out.

  • (Show?)

    Charlie,

    I'm curious as to your reasons for putting this post up. Jeff already had a post up covering the same territory. You could have made the same points in the comment thread there.

    Was the point of this post to essentially rebut Jeff? If so I must say that it's highly unusual.

    The only rebuttal posts I've ever seen were either when an individual editor had been directly attacked in another post or when a "notable comment" was put up in a post of it's own. This post of yours seems to set a new precedent because you were never attacked nor does it spring from a comment.

    I ask because after all the grief that TJ et al have given me over posting policy her I'm a bit surprised to see an Editor taking a tact that I'd be roasted alive for taking, not to mention that my post would get yanked.

    What gives?

  • (Show?)

    "I ask because after all the grief that TJ et al have given me over posting policy her I'm a bit surprised to see an Editor taking a tact that I'd be roasted alive for taking, not to mention that my post would get yanked."

    Huh? Are you saying it's against BlueO policy for one editor to answer another one in a separate column? If not, what's your point?

  • (Show?)

    Charlie recognized that my post was so insightful, nay powerful that he thought it would easily turn the election to Merkley. He had no choice.

  • (Show?)

    "Charlie recognized that my post was so insightful, nay powerful that he thought it would easily turn the election to Merkley. He had no choice."

    A possible scenario, just not a plausible one...

    :)

  • (Show?)

    I ask because after all the grief that TJ et al have given me over posting policy her [sic] I'm a bit surprised to see an Editor taking a tact that I'd be roasted alive for taking, not to mention that my post would get yanked.

    I congratulate you on being the first pro-Merkley contributor to decry the terrible unfairness of Blue Oregon. And why should Kari and Jeff get all the meta love?

    Anyway, I posted this when there were two posts up from both Jeff Alworth and Pat Ryan on the same subject. So in the interest of both balance (in a two-to-one sort of way) and adding a different perspective, I thought it deserved its own piece.

    We're all keenly aware of where you are on this race, Kevin. Novick could save the world from an asteroid and you'd still spin it for Merkley. We get it. Merkley. You dig 'em.

  • Pat Malach (unverified)
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    Alworth with the fourth-quarter TD for the Patriots.

    But there's still time on the clock for Hofstra.

  • (Show?)

    I'm really glad we can still joke here and there about this stuff.

  • (Show?)

    A possible scenario, just not a plausible one...

    :)

    Thank you and good night! Have a good weekend, oh blue-hearted ones, I'm off for a beer.

  • (Show?)

    I've got nuttin but love for Alworth. He knows I take it seriously, not personally. :)

  • (Show?)

    I doubt Gordon cares all that much which of these candidates he draws. In either case, he has a mountain to climb in terms of the state's Democratic voter registration edge, and in either case he's going to have a truckload of money to spend in the Portland media market, which he carried in his last election.

    The ad was symbolic of the fact that he has the money to make sure that one of the first things that voters would hear about either of his opponents would be negative.

    If he really wanted to, he could flood the airwaves with negative ads against one or both of these candidates and tip the primary election, since neither has the money to counter him.

  • s.gothman (unverified)
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    I am disheartened to hear Democrats easily swayed by whatever Senator Smith has to say on the matter. The ballots counted on May 20th are ballots cast by Democrats; Senator Smith is a Republican who is trying to interfere and cause chaos and fracture the Party. Speculation on whom Senator Smith wishes to face is irrelevant. As Democrats, we should pay no heed to what he is doing at this point, only who you feel would defeat Senator Smith November 4, 2008, and best serve Oregon starting January 3, 2009.

  • Emily George (unverified)
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    I'm not going to respond any further here, other than to say, after reading this and watching the ad, I went to www.jeffmerkley.com and donated $100. I hope others will join me so that Jeff can fight back.

    And no, I don't work for Merkley or any organization backing him.

  • Kev (unverified)
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    It would be a tough blow to the DSCC to see Novick come out of this primary. The DSCC recruited Merkley after Novick was already in the race, and that fact alone would make Novick a tough sell to national donors. But given how relatively weak of a campaigner Merkley has proven to be, Novick may be the stronger choice.

    If I were Smith, I'd get a good laugh at Schumer over a Novick win, but I don't think strategically either is clearly weaker than the other for the fall. Merkley has more institutional support, but Novick is a much more aggressive campaigner. It's a wash.

  • (Show?)
    Posted by: Charlie Burr | May 9, 2008 4:53:06 PM

    Okay...

    :::makes mental note - Charlie is armed and loaded with an itchy trigger finger:::

    In hindsight I suppose I should have loaded my question up with partisan snark rather than opting for politeness. Especially if I'm going to be tagged with being the first pro-Merkley contributor to... how did you put that (?)... ah, "decry the terrible unfairness of Blue Oregon."

    I suppose this too will be added to the catalogue of ways that the Merkley campaign has been too timid?

    :::makes another mental note - LOOK AT THE DATE, IDIOT. THIS IS HUNTING SEASON AND YOU'RE WEARING A SIX-POINT RACK FOR A HAT:::

    D'oh!!

  • backbeat (unverified)
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    I've decided to wait until the last minute to cast my ballot, watching as these creepy ads play out. So far, Novick is looking better.

  • (Show?)

    Hey "Kev" and "Kevin"... would you guys mind using your last name when you comment? Or at least, some sort of secondary identifier? Even just "Kevin X" or "Kevin from Tigard" would be fine.

    Too many Kevins in Oregon politics.

  • (Show?)

    Charlie, I am completely persuaded by your elegantly and concisely expressed point about Smith sowing negativism. I think we should all pay attention to that regardless of what we think about whether Smith is trying to influence the choice of Democratic candidate, or how.

    This one is what in certain academic jargon would be called "overdetermined," i.e. has multiple true explanations.

    I think Sal Peralta's comment pointing out how Smith has money to burn is an important context for the general negativism argument.

    Clearly Smith's ploy isn't aimed at BlueOregon audience anyway.

    If Smith were trying to hurt Jeff and help Steve, is it likely to work with a broader public audience?

    Could he be trying to hurt Jeff not because he wants Steve as his opponent but just because he thinks he'll get Jeff and is starting early?

    If Smith were trying to help Jeff with a briar patch ploy, is that likely to work?

    What kind of difference would it make?

    If there's no anti-Novick ad in a week I'll think we've seen the full cycle of what he's up to, until then I'm just not sure.

    Could he be trying to fire up the R base and turn off independents from the idea of Democrats per se (again per Sal's registration deficit point)?

  • (Show?)

    Once again I am reminded of all the reasons I swore to trishka that she'd have to fight me for Chris Lowe.

  • (Show?)
    If Smith were trying to hurt Jeff and help Steve, is it likely to work with a broader public audience?

    What difference would it make - to Smith - if it is likely to work with a broader audience or not, assuming your hypothetical premise? If the point is to hurt Jeff then that's the point of the exercise. Playing to a larger audience would be icing on the cake, not the cake itself.

    Could he be trying to hurt Jeff not because he wants Steve as his opponent but just because he thinks he'll get Jeff and is starting early?

    That certainly is a plausible hypothesis. Whether or not he wants Steve, the point of the ad is to hurt Jeff. And the only reason to do that at this stage is if he thinks that's likely who he'll end up facing.

    Could he be trying to fire up the R base and turn off independents from the idea of Democrats per se (again per Sal's registration deficit point)?

    It makes no sense at all for Smith to get worked up about firing up the R base at this stage. Dampening the Indies at this stage only makes marginally more sense. And that only because we don't know what percentage of Indies will re-register back as NAV or potentially register as R's. But the conventional wisdom seems to be that more will remain D than has been typical in the last number of election cycles. As a long-time Indie I suspect the CW is correct, but to what degree is a total crap shoot. Where it would make a great deal of sense for Smith to try that general tact would be prior to the General rather than prior to the Primary.

    Sal's larger point is a good one, but he doesn't connect the obvious dots. Money is a huge factor in all of this, as demonstrated by the size of the warchest Smith has amassed.

    Yes, Smith has truckloads of money. And no, neither Dem candidate is likely to be able to match it dollar for dollar. But if one of them shows the potential to match 3/4 of it and the other only shows the potential to match 1/4 of it... Well, which would you want to face, all else being equal, if you were sitting on the largest campaign warchest in a major race?

  • Daniel Spiro (unverified)
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    "We're all keenly aware of where you are on this race, Kevin. Novick could save the world from an asteroid and you'd still spin it for Merkley. We get. Merkley. You dig 'em."

    That's the truth. Kevin gets the award for most one-sided poster in Blue Oregon. That's quite an accomplishment. He makes Lanny Davis look even-handed by comparison.

  • (Show?)

    kevin, why would he attack the guy with less prospects for national fundraising in Merkley? You know it's been no contest who's the more appealing national candidate. Or have I missed a national profile piece or tv show that Merkley's been featured in?

  • bdunn (unverified)
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    kevin, why would he attack the guy with less prospects for national fundraising in Merkley? You know it's been no contest who's the more appealing national candidate. Or have I missed a national profile piece or tv show that Merkley's been featured in?

    Mark has jumped the shark, seriously maybe the guy (Merkley) who has the backing of the DSCC and has raised vasly more money from outside the state would have a better chance to continue doing that compared to the guy who has failed. If Novick was ever going to be able to raise money from outside of the state it would have been after his beer ad where he was introduced to the netroots but he failed to do so.

    Especially with new polling showing that Merkley is only 3pts behind Smith in a general matchup. Merkley will draw bank just as he already has.

  • (Show?)

    Much appreciated, Chris. This is also a great point:

    Could he be trying to hurt Jeff not because he wants Steve as his opponent but just because he thinks he'll get Jeff and is starting early?

    With Merkley's $250,000 loan and out-of-state fundraising advantage, it wouldn't surprise me if Smith thinks Merkley will be our nominee. Many observers have underestimated Novick's grassroots strength, so Smith certainly could be applying the same conventional thinking to the race.

    The bottom line for me is that we should support the candidate we want and not let Republicans get in our heads. I support Steve because of three key criteria:

    Who will make the best U.S. Senator? Who will best take the fight to Gordon Smith? Whose campaign is more in tune with the mood of the electorate?

    I fully recognize many reasonable folks have taken a look and decided to back Merkley. But the last thing we should do is let Gordon Smith play any role in choosing our nominee. That includes backing Merkley on the basis of one TV spot late in the game.

  • (Show?)
    Who will make the best U.S. Senator? Who will best take the fight to Gordon Smith? Whose campaign is more in tune with the mood of the electorate?

    The new poll by Rassmussen along with it's trend lines indicates that the answer is Jeff Merkley.

    While the SurveyUSA polls have been Primary Election polls taken among Democrats (and showing Merkley surging), this Rassmussen poll is a General Election match-up which better indicates whom all Oregonians feel best meets your three criteria. What we see in both the P.E. polls and the G.E. match-up polls is a surging Jeff Merkley.

    Right now with a margin of error of 4% we have Merkley and Smith in a statistical tie at 42% and 45% respectively. Novick lags behind Smith at 41% and 47% respectively.

    All of that said... I am, perhaps naively, hoping that you won't once again make me regret opting for polite civility over snark.

  • (Show?)

    I've got nuttin but love for Alworth. He knows I take it seriously, not personally. :)

    Yeah, and it will be nice to be back on the same team. T-minus ten days and counting...

  • DE (unverified)
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    I know two Smith campaign staffers. There is absolutely no question that they fear Novick, and would prefer to face Jeff.

  • (Show?)

    "Right now with a margin of error of 4% we have Merkley and Smith in a statistical tie at 42% and 45% respectively. Novick lags behind Smith at 41% and 47% respectively."

    Let's report properly. Both Merkley and Novick are in a statistical tie. Within the 95% it is possible Novick actually leads, 45-43.

    Merkley and Novick have the same support +-1, you'll notice.

    Your point falls apart, because everything you say about Merkley being close is also true about Novick.

  • (Show?)

    Rassmussen also included tracking stats from their February and March polls which are very revealing.

    Merkley went from 18 points down to 13 points down to 3 points down - a statistical tie. That's a 15 point swing since Feb. and a 10 point swing since March.

    Novick went from 13 points down to 11 points down to 6 points down. that's a 7 point swing since Feb. and a 5 point swing since March, half the momentum which Merkley has demonstrated.

  • Hawthorne (unverified)
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    So if the Cubs are down by 8 after six innings and come back with 5 in the next two they have momentum, right Kevin?

    They are also still behind.

  • (Show?)

    Has anyone here who has themselves been involved in a political campaign sufficiently deeply to have been in on or to have accurate knowledge of strategy ever seen an actual effort to "choose" an opponent? I mean your own experiences, not news reports about Karl Rove or whomever.

    I haven't been that involved, but my gut and my sense of strategy about non-electoral organizing I've done makes this seem unlikely as a primary consideration.

    The presumption that Smith is trying to shape the Democratic primary lacks evidence, IMO.

    To me the whole thing looks much more like Smith trying to lay an initial basis for framing the campaign regardless of the Democratic nominee. It boils down to the Reaganite claim that Democrats inherently represent "old politics" "politics as usual," so that Smith, even though he is the incumbent, still remains fresher. The basic Reagan-Gingrich framing.

    In that context, if we don't presume that Smith is trying to distinguish Jeff and Steve and favor one, but has other motives entirely, attacking Novick on taxes is about defining Democrats, setting an atmosphere of mobilizing anti-tax sentiment.

    The positive side of the claim of Smith as atypical, fresh politics will be the bipartisanship claim -- even possibly to the extent of implying he's the real counterpart to Barack Obama's "reach out" message.

    Also, if we step back, we all would agree I think that if this were December 2006 and we were speculating about possible opponents for Smith in '08, neither Steve nor Jeff would have been high up the list. Either is going to have significant name-recognition & "who I am" problems statewide even after the primary. Again this is a context in which it would make sense for Smith to try to take advantage of their vulnerability to being "defined" by him rather than themselves.

    In 2002 Smith hammered Bradbury, 56% to 40%. The other 4% went to splinter right-wing groups (Constitution and Libertarian parties). Some of that was context -- Bush riding high and whipping up his war fever, Republicans controlling Congress adding value to Smith's growing seniority. My rather vague memory is also that I thought Bradbury lackluster.

    To me Sal's point that Smith won the "Portland media market" seems like a key thing to focus on, as something either Steve or Jeff will need to reverse. I am not sure how far that extends, in terms of what he meant -- city & suburbs? More distant places like McMinnville or Forest Grove or Sandy or east & west along the Columbia? Also I'm not sure where Smith's strengths were, either geographically or in terms of appeal to economic or social groups.

    But it seems to me that those things would be more worthwhile and interesting to focus on than trying to psych out some Smith psych-out, or arguing about surges, real or imagined, etc.

  • (Show?)

    "Merkley went from 18 points down to 13 points down to 3 points down - a statistical tie. That's a 15 point swing since Feb. and a 10 point swing since March.

    Novick went from 13 points down to 11 points down to 6 points down. that's a 7 point swing since Feb. and a 5 point swing since March, half the momentum which Merkley has demonstrated."

    It might also be because Jeff was farther behind?

    Really, Kevin.

  • (Show?)

    You've lost me there, Hawth.

    Merkley is only down 3 points - up 15 points on Smith since February.

    Novick is down 6 points - up 7 points on Smith since February.

    Where does your 5 point deficit in the 9th inning come from?

  • LT (unverified)
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    With regard to Sal, "he's going to have a truckload of money to spend in the Portland media market, which he carried in his last election.

    The ad was symbolic of the fact that he has the money to make sure that one of the first things that voters would hear about either of his opponents would be negative."

    First of all, Gordon LOST the Senate campaign where he told us over and over "we're all real tired of career politicians". That was Jan. 1996. Is Gordon a "career politician" yet? If not, why not--does he need a few more years in public office? How would he react if someone asked him that question?

    Secondly, haven't some of the past statewide general elections revolved around not necessarily Multnomah County so much as Clackamas, Washington, Marion/Polk and maybe Yamhill counties?

    Different demographics than just Portland.

    When I hear people talk about "Democrats", I ask, "Is there a particular candidate you like?".

    Generally the answer is something like Obama over Clinton. When asked about any other primary, "Gee,I'll have to start studying those...".

    My guess is that many people are ignoring the TV commercials in the US Senate primary, just like they tune out commercial products---just too many of those ads.

  • Grant Schott (unverified)
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    As I racall, Smith did exactly this in the fianl days of the special '95 primary campaign. Knowing that he would easily beat Norma Paulus and Jack Roberts, in the fianl week his campaign ran a negative ad attacking both Wyden and DeFazio, who were locked in their own bitter struggle for the Dem. nomination. I think it's quite dishonorable. Why go out of your way to attack one person who won't even be opposing you? I guess it says something about Gordon Smith. He likes to evoke his Udall roots, but Morris Udall never would have acted in such a manner.

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    LT

    Please don't misunderstand me. I was in no way trying to say that only Multnomah County is important. Just because I live in Portland doesn't mean I'm necessarily an idiot. :-) And actually I live within half a mile of the Clackamas County line. My state rep., Carolyn Tomei, represents mainly Milwaukie.

    Clackamas and Washington Counties, or at least large portions of them, are certainly in "the Portland media market" as far as broadcast media go, which I supposed was what Sal was talking about. Perhaps to some degree cable and satellite tv change that.

    But I don't know how far that market extends. I've never really watched tv away from Portland in Oregon, so I don't know where you get different stations, vs. maybe translators. Are there other broadcast centers? Does Salem have its own stations? Eugene? (I know from car trips that there's a whole mid-valley public radio set-up independent of OPB which I assume has an interesting history.) Sorry to be so ignorant, but better to admit it than pretend I'm not or that what I don't know about doesn't matter, no?

    I do know that when I watch the broadcast weather, the Portland broadcasters talk about the whole state. So what does Sal's unit mean?

    Also, exactly what I take to be your point is what I had in mind -- that when we're talking about that big an area, we're talking about a lot of variability. There are a lot of places that in some senses are in "the metro area" that resemble the Counties their close to away from Portland more than they resemble Portland. That's true even within Multnomah County.

    I took Sal to be saying partly that Smith did better than we need him to do even in Portland. But it also seemed to imply that there are huge swathes of "swing" territory, some of which are inside and others outside of whatever arbitrary line we want to draw in relation to the "big city" (Metro boundary, "media market," metropolitan statistical area). So in addition to perhaps needing to shore up very high D registration areas, we also need to figure out how to swing the swing areas our way.

    I'm not telling anything you don't know, obviously. I'm just trying to convey that I know it too, though not as much about what it means in practice as I should. Which why I'm asking.

    The choice of candidate is one piece of that, but only one. Few if any people in this venue are going to be persuaded by the Steve vs. Jeff arguments at this point and the rehashes are tedious and not teaching me anything, at all, really, but certainly not about after the primary.

    What I'm wondering about is the other side -- what did Smith do that worked for him last time, is he likely to take the same tack, how can we counter it? And very much especially those questions applied to places where approaches good for Portland might not be so good or even be bad. I'm sorry I'm ignorant, but I'm aware of that, and I'm listening to anyone who can spare a moment to enlighten me.

    What you say about running against "career politicians" not working in Jan. 1996 for Smith is interesting. Did he do something different for November that year (I was out of state)? In 2002 (I wasn't paying much attention for various reasons, since I knew I was voting against him and didn't have time to be more involved)? This time he's not using that exact phrase, it's more like "typical politicians" or "the same old politics."

    Basically given how strongly Smith won the last time, whoever is the nominee is going to have to cut his margins all over the place to win, right? I support the 36 County view of Democratic strategy.

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    Secondly, haven't some of the past statewide general elections revolved around not necessarily Multnomah County so much as Clackamas, Washington, Marion/Polk and maybe Yamhill counties?

    LT, last I checked, Clackamas and Washington County are both part of the PDX metro television market. Gordon won each county by more than 30,000 votes in 2002.

    As for downstate markets and Yamhill County (which is also part of the PDX media market) ...

    My only point about the Portland Metro area is that a Democrat cannot win statewide office and lose the tri counties region. Period.

    Gordon has won in Portland, and he has won it with a lot of Democratic votes and done it by buying a truckload of television advertising and pitching himself as a moderate.

    Canvassing and door-to-door, and word of mouth is great, but it's damned tough to win a campaign for the United States Senate with the grassroots when the other guy has $12 million to spend on television and your guy has $2-$3 million. Not impossible. Damned tough.

    Say what you want about people tuning out tv ads... I don't even own a television ... but when you look at what happens when ads go up on tv, public opinion starts to move.

    The candidate who buys the most ratings points usually wins in Federal races. That wasn't the case in 2006, maybe it won't be in 2008 either, but the candidate with the biggest war chest wins more than 90 percent of the time in Federal races, and the correlation between winning and campaign cash is higher than any other variable you can look at (party id, incumbency, etc).

    Gordon should be concerned about this race, but the Democratic nominee either has to build a movement (Novick's path to victory) or achieve near enough fundraising parity (Merkley's path to victory) so that party id is the deciding factor. (yeah, that's a macroscopic view, so sue me).

    In either case, Gordon is in a pretty decent position. He's vulnerable, but it'll take a brilliant campaign to take him out.

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    "In either case, Gordon is in a pretty decent position. He's vulnerable, but it'll take a brilliant campaign to take him out."

    Honestly, who can say that Novick has run something less than a brilliant campaign to get where he is?

    And who would honestly say Merkley has run a brilliant campaign?

  • LT (unverified)
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    Sal, you may be right, but I don't think this electorate is exactly the same as the 2002 electorate:

    different mood in the country, not an off-year election lots of voters excited about the presidential election *voters registered in 2008 who were not registered in 2002.

    Plus the fact that Gordon's original election was in the presidential year of 1996, and he would not have won without so many people voting 3rd party.

    So no, I don't think this is destiny: "the Democratic nominee either has to build a movement (Novick's path to victory) or achieve near enough fundraising parity (Merkley's path to victory) so that party id is the deciding factor. "

    I believe there will be lots of people in the fall of this year talking among friends saying "are you going to vote for Gordon or the other guy?" (or "that woman" in the odd event C. Neville got the nomination).

    Part of this is reaction to 2004 when I was startled to hear people I know talk about voting Bush/Hooley. Not what partisans of either party expected! Party ID was NOT a factor in that case, rather it was liking the people they voted for.

    Even the smartest political consultant cannot read the minds of voters (remember in 2000 Karl Rove said Bush would get 300 electoral votes?).

    In 1996, Gordon was "faster on his feet" (better at reacting to surprises and various events that happened) than his opponent. I don't think he will be this time.

    Whoever is the nominee will be in better touch with Oregonians than Gordon who is too used to reacting to the DC scene and has no clue what many Oregonians think about. If the Dem. nominee is more willing to do "ask me anything" town hall meetings while Gordon does highly produced events, this is the kind of year when people could very easily vote for the candidate who is actually in touch with them.

    I don't believe Gordon would score well on the "Cares about people like me, understands my problems" poll question.

    Recently on an old videotape I discovered a discussion between 2 very bright former presidential campaign managers talking about the Bush / Gore race in what was probably October. They talked about the effect of gaffes, campaign events, debates, etc. to change the tone of the race.

    And then there was this: "Men rise to the occassion......" "OR NOT! " "....yes, and that is what campaigns are all about".

    That has been proven this year in the presidential campaign. Hillary started out as the inevitable nominee, who were those guys running against her? Tonite on the Chris Matthews Show, the Big Question was Hillary's worst mistake now that it appears she can't win.

    Recently on TV someone said that Republicans could run the attack on lefties campaign blindfolded, but it didn't win in 2006 and probably wouldn't win this year.

    And TJ, I have said for a long time that this Senate primary had a lot more potential than what we finally got. NOT a very inspiring campaign (too much bickering, for one thing). But someone will win later this month, and then we will see how that winner uses the months of June and July (should take a vacation in late May!).

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    So no, I don't think this is destiny: "the Democratic nominee either has to build a movement (Novick's path to victory) or achieve near enough fundraising parity (Merkley's path to victory) so that party id is the deciding factor. "

    LT, I don't understand your point. Are you saying that Democratic chances are somehow nehanced by failing to build a movmeent, and by not achieving fundraising parity?

    I agree that we have a very different electorate -- which is why Gordon is vulnerable -- but I disagree with any suggestion that he is somehow tone deaf to this and that he doesn't understand the Oregon electorate.

    A cynic like myself would suggest that his shift to the left on the war, his support for SCHIP, and his attempt to position himself as a "change candidate" who rejects partisan division are all representative of a very sophisticated understanding as to the mood of the Oregon electorate.

    It would be a serious mistake to underestimate Gordon Smith's political acumen.

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    Whoever is the nominee will be in better touch with Oregonians than Gordon who is too used to reacting to the DC scene and has no clue what many Oregonians think about. If the Dem. nominee is more willing to do "ask me anything" town hall meetings while Gordon does highly produced events, this is the kind of year when people could very easily vote for the candidate who is actually in touch with them.

    I can very easily imagine Steve doing this. And what fun it would be. Great suggestion, LT.

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