Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Carson City!

The results are in, and Andre Carson is your 7th District Congressman! But what's unknown now is why specifically. Conservative bloggers such as Gary Welsh at Advance Indiana and its readership are implicitly promoting the idea that the election was somehow stolen based on the results of particular precincts where Carson should have won but didn't. Sorry, but this is crazy and (sadly) expected.

One of Mr. Welsh's readers hit the real reason on the head when he said that "the Carson machine" was out in full force in Pike Township. This will be anathema to many old-style Democrats, but I believe yesterday's result will show that Centre Township is no longer the African-American power for the Democratic Party. It's up in Pike now. I will reserve further comment until I actually see all of the precinct tallies, but I would guess Elrod got crushed in Pike, and this offset any "gains" he got from losing small in some Center Township precincts or by carrying Broad Ripple. Also, the DCCC paid for canvassing and, I'm told, for an absentee voter program with which Elrod couldn't compete. The single best tactic for any campaign is to lock up votes as early as possible before anybody can have second thoughts and you can spend less on GOTV. Carson did this well.

The Republican disconnect here is amusing because they have apparently forgotten that John Kerry carried this district by 58% in 2004, so 54% is hardly landslide territory. And herein lies another question that Democrats may not wish to consider. Was Julia Carson REALLY that popular? (Understand that the depth of affection for the Congresswoman is undenied. Those who voted for her could not be shook. My question is whether her performance drew the esteem (and votes) of all inclined to favor Democrats). These are questions colleagues and I have debated heatedly, and I will enjoy chopping up the new precincts and digesting all the data.

But in a 58% presidential district, wouldn't one think Julia Carson would poll 58% in 2004? But she didn't. She polled 54%, which matches the 54% she polled in 2006. In 2002, she polled 53%. In other words, in the new 7th, she only "improved" marginally. She never won any converts. And given that her grandson was deemed "inexperienced" by the Star, which endorsed his opponent, 54% may be as low as it gets for ANY Democrat in this district who isn't scandal-prone. We have no baseline to determine whether Julia won because she was the Democratic candidate in a Democratic district, or because she was Julia Carson. (Of course, in fairness, this could be said of a lot of candidates, I'm sure). My point is this. If Andre Carson were to lose in the primary to someone else, and that person draws 56% or 58% in November, wouldn't that be cause to hypothesize that Julia Carson was actually underperforming? And if a D elected in November is re-elected by the same margin two years from now, wouldn't we have confirmation for our hypothesis? In short, can anybody, at this point, even say whether yesterday was a strong showing or a weak one for Andre Carson, in particular given the funding advantage he enjoyed?

Of course, I'd rather be an underperforming member of Congress than be the one writing the concession speech. So, congratulations to you, Andre Carson. Let the others read the tea leaves while you keep pounding the pavement. You've got a crowd in your rear-view mirror.


1 comment:

varangianguard said...

I'm not surprised that Pike precincts went for André is a big way. I think André is a good match for the evolving demographic trends there.