cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner
The Republican race for the right to face Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) for the U. S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Herb Kohl (D) continues to devolve with name-calling. That was still the theme for all but one candidate last evening during a debate in Green Bay. The old theme of a ‘circular firing squad’ seems appropriate today with the exception of one candidate, Jeff Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald was quoted as saying, “I think we should be paying attention to Tammy Baldwin” when he was questioned during the debate. Of course, each of the other three felt compelled to follow their recent campaign directions of attacking each other.
The Republican Party has a reputation, seemingly well-earned, of ‘eating its young’. That is again being born out in this race. Spirited debate is certainly something we all want to see as we ‘vet’ the individuals who are seeking our votes. Negative advertising is effective, however, and that is what drives these ‘circular firing squads’. Too often though, it seems the Republicans are the ones who use the ‘circular firing squad’ approach.
Rasmussen Reports released the results of a survey last Saturday that shows how dangerous these antics can be. The polling of 500 ‘likely voters’ had a margin of sampling error of +/- 4.5%.
That survey showed the following:
Tammy Baldwin receives 45% to 48% of the vote no matter who the Republican candidate is. She leads by margins of 3% to 10% depending upon the candidate she will oppose.
As speculated in a recent blog, Eric Hovde was the most competitive of the Republican candidates trailing Baldwin by just 3% (45% to 42%). Mark Neumann trails Baldwin by 6% (48% to 42%). Tommy Thompson trails Baldwin by 7% (48% to 41%), and Fitzgerald comes in last trailing Baldwin by 10% (47% to 37%).
I have a difficult time believing that Baldwin can win given her reliance upon the very liberal voting pattern of the Greater Madison area for her victories to date. BUT, she is in front of each potential opponent today.
There is a reason for that and it may be the ‘circular firing squad’, in my estimation. If we hear/see enough negative ads, we cannot help but be effected to one degree or another. If we are more political animals hanging on every debate and seeing the nuances of each candidate, then maybe the negative ads are nothing more than an irritant as is the case with me. But, if we are ‘normal’ and don’t think everything has some political overtone or undercurrent, we cannot help but be influenced when all we hear is a stream of negativity about any and nearly all the Republicans whose names we recognize.
We are now two weeks away from the election that will determine who among the four Republicans will face Baldwin. For many, this will be a choice of the lesser of evils rather than a choice of the one whom we believe is the better candidate from the perspective of our personal viewpoint.
I dislike thinking that, for many, this will be a last minute decision based on whatever was the final negative ad they saw or heard the night before stepping into the voting booth. Many will say that these ads are forgotten and the party will coalesce behind whoever their candidate turns out to be.
I dislike the fodder for the real race that Republicans have provided to Rep. Baldwin’s campaign. Can’t you just see all the clips from these negative advertisements as they’re pasted together to create an evil opponent, a scoundrel who just can’t be sent to Washington? All the ‘dirt’ necessary is handed to the other candidate on the proverbial ‘silver platter’.
We see just how long the memory of such campaigning is as we recognize that Neumann is still fighting off the taint of his last race left by that negative campaign. Imagine what all this adds up to as those who are not political animals, or those who are not committed to support a particular party make their final selection.
The disgust that may taint the totals can be more than sufficient to elect a person who might’ve otherwise been defeated if not for these internecine attacks. Even if it only impacts the turn-out, there can be a significant effect.