In Ed’s piece, he brings up three reasons he, and others, are concerned about Michelle Nunn’s viability in her race for US Senate. Stefan responds to each in turn:
1) Michelle Nunn does not have hardcore liberal positions.
I will concede this point. But there aren’t purity tests in the Democratic party the way there are in the Republican party. There is no Left Wing version of the Tea Party to enforce compliance with non-mainstream positions. David Perdue has been turning himself into a pretzel to try to comply with the modern mandates of the Republican primary electorate – there is no such pressure on Nunn. Part of that is that she didn’t have fully funded opponents, but part of that is that she didn’t need to change her positions or paradigm to appeal to voters. Her views are palatable to Democrats and to Independents. Much as David Perdue’s were in 2012. Now, not so much.
The VRA points you bring up are valid. But there is zero support for a new VRA that targets individual states so why fall on your sword to advocate such a position? And as for Obamacare, there are policies in the bill that people support and those that they don’t. Many people don’t even know what it does. So if she said he was for it, she’d be saying she was for what people think Obamacare is, rather than what it actually is. Why would you delegate your policy position to the vicissitudes of the underinformed voter’s mind? That seems like a bad idea.
Nunn did not drag herself into any positions or statements during the primary that can cause her problems now. Jack Kingston tried to force children to sweep for their bread and water and David Perdue has backtracked on so many positions he can barely remember the name of his Uruguayan masseur. That is not the solid base you want to have when vying for those who are just now starting to pay attention. They’ll now go in search of the Broun, Kingston, and Handel voters. That cannot make your views more reasonable.
So, yeah, she doesn’t have policy and issue statements on everything that has been voted on in Congress for the last ten years. But what she does have is a clean, reasoned approach to the issues she’ll confront. She’s also been able to spend money on an ad campaign to introduce her to voters. Which means she’s robbed the Republican opponent of the opportunity to define her before she defined herself. It also gives her a foundation from which she can attack the record of Kingston (or the various records of Perdue) should she need to.
2) Primary turnout numbers spell doom for Dems! Not so much.
These are the primary numbers from 2010. There was an exciting Republican Governor’s race, and a not so exciting Democratic Governor’s race. By the time of the primary, it was pretty clear Barnes had it locked up. All the action was on the R side. Here are the November results in those two districts.
I recognize your point is the statewide numbers, but those are just districts like these in the aggregate. People who pulled the Dem ballot were outnumbered in the primary in both cases, yet the Dem candidate won the general handily. More than that, look at the total numbers of voters. 4k in the primary compared to 18k in the general for Thompson, 9.5k in the primary and 36k in the general for Stoner. I’m mostly unconcerned about the lack of Democratic voters in the primary.
3) Can we buy into the polling showing Nunn ahead?
We can and we should. Nunn is up in the latest poll over either Kingston or Perdue. It is tempting to view this as part of the demographic shift that favors Democrats long term, but I don’t think that’s it. If you look at the cross tabs the improvement over past years, the improvement is in the White vote as opposed to a change in the makeup of the electorate. It may be that the Republicans have slid too far into the anti-science, anti-reason ditch and Michelle looks like an alternative to that.
As as to Michelle Nunn’s viability, not only is she viable, she’s winning.