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View Diary: Daily Kos Elections Live Digest: 5/8 (461 comments)

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  •  Learning the lessons of SC-1 (12+ / 0-)

    Hi. You may remember me. I'm the guy who told you that Mark Sanford was toast. Turns out, not so much. I had good company - the DCCC invested $1 million in a race we lost by almost 9 points.

    Here are three lessons I learned from the special election in SC-1

    1).  Polls are only a snapshot in time I was one of those who got fooled by the PPP poll showing ECB nine points up. I defended the unrealistic sample by stating that a lot of Republicans might not show up at the polls. The problem with that poll is it was taking shortly after the Sanford trespassing revelations. Had the election been conducted within a couple days of that poll, I still think there's a chance Sanford would have lost. But he had two weeks to turn it around, and turn it around he did. The morale: be wary of polls that show a result that does not jibe with the demographics of the district, taken before most voters have engaged in the election.

    2). Sex scandals are worth something, but not enough. They aren't as definitive as an indictment or a stupid comment about rape.  See this Nate Silver column for how much sex scandals are actually worth.

    Answer: not enough to carry someone to victory in a district like this.

    In general, here's how I see the worth of various candidate problems in terms of causing harm

    Criminal Indictment > Stupid and/or crazy comment (especially about rape) > sex scandal > accusations of corruption without indictment

    3). Regardless of other factors, candidate quality matters Kos had a post right after Scott Brown's surprise win in 2010 talking about how hard a candidate works can be definitive as to whether that candidate wins. There's no doubt that Sanford worked harder than ECB in the past two weeks. In general, I thought ECB was an okay candidate. She could raise money and wasn't bad in the debate. But she had all the handicaps of being more progressive than the district would allow, which led her to pursue a quasi-incumbent strategy (i.e. avoiding debates and cutting short public appearances) and deliberately muddle how she would vote on issues (I'm not even clear how she would have voted on Manchin-Toomey). In the end, she couldn't make much of case for herself beyond: I'm not Mark Sanford, and that wasn't enough. Sanford, in contrast, proved he is an excellent retail politician, enough so to overcome a scandal that would have sunk a lesser candidate.

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