Monday, June 28, 2010

Taking down an insider

Last month, I offered this quasi-prediction about Colorado's major statewide primaries:
At this point, based on everything I know about how primary elections actually work, I would say the odds still strongly favor Bennet, McInnis, and Norton winning the August primaries. I'd love to be proven wrong, of course... but given where the money and endorsements are, that's the likely outcome.
If the latest polls are to be believed, I may need to eat these words for the Republican Senate primary.  Jane Norton appears to be trailing Ken Buck badly, despite having raised twice as much and having spent four times as much as he has and despite having had a real advantage in terms of party elite endorsements.

Why are funding and insider support not doing for Jane Norton what they appear to be doing for Michael Bennet and Scott McInnis?  Well, for one thing, Norton's most prominent early backer was John McCain, who, you know, doesn't live here, and was never really the darling of the conservatives who dominate the GOP caucuses and primaries.  (Romney won the caucus in '08.)  People have questioned McInnis' conservative credentials, but no one really doubts his Colorado bona fides.  Yes, Bennet's appointment was a surprise, but he had the backing of the governor and much of the state's Democratic leadership.  Plus, he had President Obama coming out swinging for him.  No, Obama's not from here either, but I think it's fair to say that an Obama endorsement means more to Colorado Democrats than a McCain endorsement means to Colorado Republicans right now.

Some of it may also be candidate-specific.  Norton might just not be all that good at this.  Now, this stuff is much harder to measure, and she hasn't had any sort of Martha Coakley meltdowns.  I find her "war on terror" ad disgusting, but of course she's not trying to appeal to me.  What seems to be harder for her is that her opponent, Ken Buck, is actually pretty good at this.  Unlike other would-be giant killers in the primaries out there, Buck has some political experience and seems to have pretty decent political instincts.

Anyway, the primary is still more than a month away, and the polling data is pretty scant so far, so full caveats here.  But in this great "anti-insider" year, right now it looks like only one insider will be taken down in Colorado.  If that happens, the real question will be, why this race and not the others?


Jonathan Bernstein said...

Any idea of what this would mean for November?

Seth Masket said...

The polling on this is far from conclusive. My impression is that Buck is somewhat more conservative than Norton, which would be good news for Michael Bennet. On the other hand, he might be a better campaigner than Norton, so that might cancel out the extremism penalty.

Buck has only been taken seriously as a candidate by either party for a very brief time. I imagine we'll see much more investigation of his past, unpopular stances, etc., in the next few weeks. Then we'll know more.

Unknown said...

Buck's latest stance on separation of church and state might call into question his popularity and credibility to be our next senator.