CA-50 and immigration ping

I‘m trying really hard to avoid blogging about politics, but I can’t pass up the opportunity to gloat a bit.

In light of the primary election results, I thought I’d ping two of my previous political threads: CA-50 is dead to me and Immigrants are the new gay.

Here is a quote taken from a discussion on the Swing State Project (emphasis mine):

There are even those who postulate that the Republicans could snatch victory from the jaws of defeat this November by putting a greater distance between themselves and Bush on immigration, like [the Republican candidate] did… I think we should all be a little more cautious of our expectations for this November. The GOP has thrown a huge monkey wrench in the form of Immigration into the Democrats’ 2006 strategy, and it’s unclear yet how the Democrats plan to manage the issue.

It’s nice to be so blatantly manipulated by the Republicans, huh?

Here is an important point a lot of people missed because they don’t know the history:

Basically Billbray was the moderate Republican candidate who managed to win a hotly contested primary contest that extended even to this special election. A lot of right wingers were not going to vote for him. Read this analysis and note this quote:

Bilbray’s being jilted at the fund raising alter by that darling of the middle (or, is it the darling of the muddled?) John “Man For All Seasons, Audiences, People and Voters” McCain may well prove to have been the final pounder of Bilbray’s political surfing hopes. McCain’s boycott is a blazing sign to moderates and independents that Bilbray just ain’t their dude.

McCain, the “straight-talking maverick,” doesn’t pee unless the Republican Party says it is okay. The reality is this idiot got it backwards. McCain’s “boycott” was used to solidify Billbray’s anti-immigrant creds in the eyes of right wingers (who weren’t going to polls to vote for some moderate) and that is the reason he won by 4 points.

That’s the take-home point here kids: remember your first year game theory course! It doesn’t matter what a majority of people think on a single issue, it matters what gets people angry enough to vote. If you can set the agenda, you control what gets people angry enough and allows them to ignore the real issues that bother them. If you lived in CA-50 (extending from the richest hillside retreats of Pacific Beach, through La Jolla (the conservative parts), to the even-more-absurdly-rich Rancho Santa Fe), you’d “get” why McCain’s boycott help keep the “brown people bogeyman” front-and-center and allowed him to pull out a win by 4 points! This is classic agenda-setting.

(Stop with your rationalizations here, Democrats. By my guess, Republicans can use dirty disenfranchisement tricks to maybe swing the election by one or two points. So 4 is a comfortable win!)

As long as people fall victim to the wedge-issue agenda-setting of the Republican party they’ll keep doing it and I’ll keep admiring it .

3 thoughts on “CA-50 and immigration ping

  1. More analysis from DemFromCT.

    His analysis is pretty good, but seems a bit partisan (a loss is a loss). I’ll forgive him because he’d from Connecticut and not CA-50 like I am.

    The analysis (unrelated) I would like to highlight comes from a commenter:

    Last year, when Arnold veered hard right at the suggestion of some White House operatives and qualified a bunch of anti-union, anti-Dem-supporters measures, Angelides once again was the voice of the opposition. The measures went down to defeat; and the teachers, firefighters, police and other public employees and service workers did not forget–they came out strongly for Amgelides.

    Westly, the eBay multimillionaire, positioned himself as a “different kind of politician” or “different kind of Democrat”–ie, not beholden to the unions. He tried to project an air of competent centrism. Much more telegenic, he also argued that he was the more electable, that voters would reject Angelides’ recognition that we need higher taxes, at least on the wealthy (whose rates were cut in the late ’90s).

    Westly might have succeeded, except that he hired the execrable Garry “Negatives R US” South to run his campaign. (He is the one who ran Gray Davis’ campaigns for Governor. In 2002 they campaigned against Richard Riordan, running in the GOP Primary, so Davis could face the hapless Bill Simon instead, who he beat by only 5%.)

    They went negative early to counteract Angelides’ base of support, and Angelides, no shrinkng violet, hit back. The hits filled the airwaves. The upshot? Low turnout. My guess is that Westly’s moderates were turned off and never came to the polls. Angelides’ more liberal and organized supporters turned out, and he won all over the state.

    Who will have the best chance against Schwarzenegger? Will it be the Revenge of the Nerd against the Terminator? Who knows. Maybe Californians are ready for a dose of reality. I certainly hope so, but this is a state built on fantasies.

    One thing is certain for candidates trying to decide who to be: If you try to run as a “new” kind of candidate, walk the walk, don’t practice the same old negative politics.

    I think it’s true (given anecdotes from people at work) and very instructive about just how behind the times the Democractic campaign operatives are.

  2. There should be a trackback here from Mike’s site.

    I believe if the Democrats want to “control the agenda” as Mike puts it, they’ve got to find some wedge issues of their own (like Living Wage and Global Warming).

    More importantly, they shouldn’t allow the Republican’s to out-local them. Huh? Billbray was the moderate republican here. Why the heck didn’t the Democrats air more adds showing him as a wishy-washy pro-immigrant Republican/more pictures of him with moderate Republicans/Washington insider/Bush lapdog? That would keep the anti-immigrant base voters at home.

    Instead they stupidly let Republicans run on an anti-immigrant platform in anti-immigrant areas, anti-terrorism platform in Chicken Little areas, anti-abortion platform in the Bible belt, etc. All the while letting this clearly partisan backscratching and token voting to occur for political gain at the price of the true moralities of this country.

    The Democratic election strategy: “We’re with the majority of America on every issue” isn’t going to fly when not every American exercises their franchise rights or is informed on what their candidate represents. Polling doesn’t mean squat unless it lines up with likely voter models and you have a strategy that plays toward affecting both.

    Besides, this sort of “triangulation” falls right into the Republican frame of “Democrats are Republican-lite.” Clinton may have left office as a popular president, but last I checked, it wasn’t because he had some brilliant election strategy—unless his brilliant strategy was to hope that someone like Ross Perot runs for president as an independent.

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