Henry Farrell on the Horserace
Horserace addendum — Crooked Timber: Horserace addendum by HENRY on OCTOBER 12, 2008: As a quick addendum to my most recent post, Patrick Ruffini at The Next Right effectively calls for the RNC to give McCain the shiv. It’s worth quoting in extenso for added schadenfreude.
If you’re a conservative looking at the odds, what should really scare you is not the 80 to 90 percent chance that Barack Obama is the next President. It’s the very real chance that Democrats could get to 60 or tantalizingly close to it in the Senate.... If the Presidential race manages to get tighter than it is, it won’t matter in the end. A loss is a loss, just as a win is a win.... But marginal gains will matter in the Senate. There a group of seats we should not lose that are teetering on the brink—North Carolina, Oregon, Minnesota, and now, quite possibly Georgia.
The NRSC and the NRCC, like the McCain campaign at the national level, are being buried by the Democrats’ massive financial advantage. In 2006, the RNC was able to come to the rescue of these committees. In one case, I believe one of their independent expenditures tipped the outcome with their humorous, effective, and perfectly legitimate ad against Harold Ford in Tennessee....
Extraordinary circumstances compel us to begin considering different strategies, including a break with the RNC’s tradition as the Presidential committee in Presidential years. The RNC’s IE unit should drop at least $15 million on 4 or 5 key Senate races that are salvageable in the last three weeks. And the decision for Victory to stay in or pull out of states should be heavily influenced by the presence of key Senate and House contests. And McCain should start explicitly making the argument for divided government, with him as the only hope of preserving it. This is unlikely to be a voting issue at the Presidential level, but we need to get the idea percolating that we are about to elect Obama with unchecked, unlimited power....
And while we all to some extent will continue to fixate on the Presidential race, we need to understand the very real consequences if the Senate is irredeemably lost, and if our bench in the House is wiped out. You may not know it, but conservative icons like John Shadegg (AZ-3) and Tom McClintock (CA-4) could lose.
I hadn’t hitherto realized that ‘humorous, effective and entirely legitimate’ was a synonym for ‘sleazy racebaiting innuendo’ but apart from that drive-by, Ruffini’s analysis seems to confirm my argument of a couple of days ago. The Republican money people are trying to figure out who to chuck out of the lifeboat before it breaches, and I wouldn’t advise McCain to be hanging around too close to the gunwales. The RNC probably wouldn’t cut him adrift completely because of party morale, downticket voting etc, but it would transfer as much of its resources as it could to vulnerable Senators. A correspondent notes in email that we saw something similar happen to Dole in 1996 – and then, the Republicans didn’t face the near-universal electoral calamity that they’re facing into now.