”UPDATE: Speaking of rankings, Republican Mike McGavick's campaign draws my attention to the National Journal's Hotline rankings of Senate races that reports a "slightly improved climate" for McGavick against Sen. Maria Cantwell.
There's no big change, but there are some good tidbits for McGavick in the rankings. Hotline calls him "the GOP's best Senate challenger in the country." There's a cautionary note that the race could slip from its position as the seventh hottest Senate race. But I bet this line is on the wall of McGavick headquarters this morning:
"But right now, we can't imagine ever viewing any other Democratic incumbent as more vulnerable than Cantwell."”
The Stranger’s “Slog” adds this: ”Now, the equally well-respected Cook Political Report (subscription required) delivers some more bracing analysis for incumbent Cantwell.
Here’s how their write-up begins:
Washington: On many levels, freshman Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell may be the party’s most vulnerable incumbent. Cantwell has not established herself in the minds of voters, her poll numbers tend to be weaker than those of her colleague Sen. Patty Murray, she does not have a long record of accomplishment, and she can’t finance her campaign as she did in 2000 when she defeated incumbent Republican Sen. Slade Gorton. As important, Cantwell will face a very strong opponent in former Safeco CEO Mike McGavick.”
All of these reports reach basically the same conclusion for Cantwell’s plummet. (And for the record, this is a Cantwell slide. Over the six months since Rasmussen first started polling this race, Cantwell’s number have dropped by some 6 to 8 percentage points while mini-Slade has only picked up 3 percentage points over that same period) According to the report, ”Thanks largely to her support for the war in Iraq, electoral support for Senator Maria Cantwell (D) has slipped once again—for the fifth survey in a row. “ It goes on to say, ”Cantwell attracts slightly more support from Democrats (82%) than McGavick does from Republicans (80%), but 8% of Democrats now say they would vote for another candidate altogether given a Cantwell-McGavick match-up. (Emphasis mine) Only 1% of GOP voters feel that way.”
Now when these Rasmussen numbers first came out, most of the Pro-Cantwell bloggers started admonishing the 8% of Progressive Democrats with statements like this from Shaun Dale at the “Upper Left” Blog: ”If you count yourself among that 8%, can you really count yourself in the Democratic Party? Because Maria Cantwell is the Democratic candidate for the US Senate. The next Senator will be Maria or the Republican.
There are no other choices. Sorry about the sharply binary nature of American politics in the 21st century, but there it is.
Which side are you on?”
Now here’s the thing; around a year ago Mark Wilson started campaigning around the state talking about how Maria Cantwell was jeopardizing this Democratic senate seat because she had been (and continues to) alienate the Progressive base of the party. He pointed to her vote and continued support for the invasion and occupation of Iraq, her votes for NAFTA and CAFTA, the Patriot Act (now twice), voting to confirm (Mushroom Cloud) Condi Rice and John (ignore those death squads) Negroponte. What he got was a mix of support, criticism over his previous runs for office, and the troubling, “I believe in what you say, but Maria is certain to win so why bother?” On June 3rd, Mark delivered this same message at the Washington State Democrats Convention in Yakima. He was received pretty much the same way he has been all year. On June 5th, the Cantwell wing of the 38th LD pounded their chests and slapped down their fellow Democrats who had committed the crime of supporting an alternative candidate; claiming their action was in the cause of party unity. On June 21st, the Rasmussen numbers came out.
To those who have said we must support Maria because she is the only one who can win in November, I again ask; are you willing to risk this vital seat based on some false sense of party loyalty and unity in the face of the growing reality that without the Progressive base, this seat is lost? Would you ask the Progressive base to put aside principle and Democratic values rather than require the same of the elected representative? Are you willing to cast off the base rather than elect a candidate in the September primary who could, based on his previous runs attract new voters to the Democratic party who would otherwise pull votes away from a Democratic candidate?
Finally, I will leave you with this: If you have been underestimating the political strength of Mike McGavick, you have been doing a real disservice to the Democrats’ chances in November. Do not forget that as Slade Gorton’s Chief of Staff, McGavick knows the republican machine in this state as well as anyone and he knows who and how to use it. Do not lose sight of the fact that the Gorton and Rossi folks are hungry for what they see as revenge. Republican voters will not stay home and they will NOT cross over for Cantwell. It will take the whole Democratic Party and, possibly, some more pragmatic 3rd party voters to keep this seat in Democratic hands.
Chad (The Left) Shue