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The other day I wrote two post on the same day, one that went like this:
If you were a potential candidate running for office in one of two districts, and District A had a middle-class incumbent and District B had a rich incumbent, you might be more inclined to run in District A. And I think you’d be right. But probably for the wrong reasons…[rich pols are] in politics strictly for the game. And because all their upside is on staying in office, they might fight a lot harder and a lot nastier to stay in office.
Unsurprisingly, many GOP governors have chosen the latter path, especially those who might be running for re-election, even those who were conservative darlings before hand. So instead of just one big Dolchstoss from Roberts, we now have a running clown car of conservative Dolchstosses across America and a big juicy political target for Democrats.
Yet I did not sum one and one to compute the mythical “two” until Dave Weigel wrote this:
When Florida Gov. Rick Scott buckled and said he’d support Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, I urged caution, because the GOP-run state legislature would get a say on this. It could always reject the expansion “and make Scott seem—for the first time in recorded history—like a centrist” as he faces a 2014 re-election campaign…Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker also preside over reasonably-safe Republican legislatures, which might have blocked expansion anyway.
Tom Corbett and Scott Walker come from not-uncomfortable middle-to-upper-middle-class-itude; but Rick Scott has a personal net worth in the nine figures and that’s after he blew eight figures seizing Florida. So think about it this way – if Corbett and Walker get re-elected they’re Presidential candidates; if not they’re sitting pretty on wingnut welfare or corporate boards and getting rich. Rick Scott is already rich, and probably doesn’t care about running for President. He wants to stay in the statehouse and is willing to buck his own party strategically to do it.
Obviously this isn’t a deterministic or even primary factor, but I think we forget too often that politicians are people and are looking forward to their own possibility trees.
I had a back-and-forth with Dave Stroup yesterday about how to best use one’s vote in the upcoming At-Large DC election. Of course it seems like he’s currently in a position where he’ll tend to make arguments that lead people to vote for Bryan Weaver. But beyond that I think he touched on an interest facet to the whole issue of whether to strategically vote.
Voting is a public exercise of civic responsibility and power, not a form of self-actualization or idealistic expression. Ergo, you should vote in such a way that creates the best possible outcome. So if I were a voting Floridian in the year 2000 I would have voted for Al Gore rather than Ralph Nader even if I preferred Nader’s issue platform (and clearly arguments that losing their left flank would force Democrats to move to the left in response have not been borne out by events). But the assumption underpinning that decision is that my impact is knowable – I would have a pretty high degree of certainty that only Gore or Bush would have been president come Jan 20 2001; that the election was close enough that it would depend on the preferences of a handful of swings states; and that one of those swing states was Florida. And that’s because polling, in the aggregate, is pretty good at predicting electoral outcomes, esepcially as Election Day nears.
But in the upcoming election here in DC there is a vast amount of uncertainty. Polls have been few and far between, and their reliability is very uncertain as this election is probably going to have low turnout and the electorate is pretty hard to model. With a small group of high-information voters, endorsements (like WaPo’s endorsement of Patrick Mara) could have outsized impact. And this electorate is small to begin with – in last year’s very heated and closely contested Mayoral Democratic Primary, fewer than 135,000 votes were cast. In the only past special election I could find (May 2007), fewer than 15,000 voters showed up in each of the two wards that were up for grabs, meaning there could be well under 100,000 ballots cast on April 26th. So in this case it seem like strategic voting could be a lot harder to do, increasing the utility of simply voting for your preferred candidate unless a clear choice comes into sharper relief as election day nears.
As for the issues in the campaign itself, I think by far the most important determiner of which candidate to prefer for any voter ought to be how they would fill DC’s $300 million budget gap. And as someone who thinks the situation calls for even more progressive revenue increases than the mayor proposed, it seems from debates that Weaver is the best candidate on that score, though he doesn’t lay that out explicitly on his website.