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11.8.08

Less obscure Landrieu record, less likely she wins

Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu is embarking on an uncommon campaign tactic for an incumbent U.S. senator – smear the challenger, in this case Republican state Treasurer John Kennedy – while trying to insulate herself from her greatest vulnerability. If Kennedy responds as expected, it will create an interesting situation in trying to persuade the casual voter.

Landrieu’s campaign has run an ad accusing Kennedy of flip-flopping on two accounts – in that he has been seeking higher office repeatedly and in his issue preferences. At the same time, it has been trying to float the idea that Landrieu is a “moderate” close to the preferences of Louisianans.

Nothing could be further from the truth regarding ideology: Landrieu, by virtue of scores like her 22 lifetime American Conservative Union (0 being a perfect liberal) tally and having voted with the liberal Democrat leadership of her party 84 percent of the time, is a “moderate,” as her commercials crassly proclaim, only compared to the rest of her party whose other senators vote severely to the left. Make no mistake: her liberal voting record puts her solidly at odds with the majority in Louisiana.

She desperately wishes to obscure this hence the spin trying to make her look “moderate” and attacks on Kennedy. One almost never sees an incumbent ripping into a challenger because they grant legitimacy to the challenger’s quest and make themselves appear vulnerable by association. Typically, it is the sign of a campaign that knows it’s in trouble, as her campaign’s reaction to recent polling data suggests.

Kennedy for his part has run a positive campaign so far but an old saw of campaigning is that serious attacks must be rebutted to prevent your opponent defining you, and a return of the favor can buttress that. Expect Kennedy to run something about how he recognizes mistakes and corrects them, while Landrieu won’t (using Landrieu’s extreme reluctance to admit any favorable attitude about presumptive Democrat presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama, such as the quick removal of her name attached to a fundraiser for Obama which also shows she “flip-flops” as well by pledging support for somebody, then disappearing).

Kennedy also is likely to go straight after Landrieu’s voting record, not highlighting scorecards but instead key votes that demonstrates either her affinity to vote the agenda of the far left and/or not to buck the leftist national Democrats (her recent committee vote against oil shale drilling in the west to please a colleague Kennedy can exploit massively, just as one example). This will counter the “moderate” fiction her campaign her working overtime to propagate.

Landrieu can win this race only if she runs from her party and her record and successfully obscures them. If Kennedy reminds voters of them effectively, he wins. With the large majority of Louisiana voters only casually attentive to the contest, whoever succeeds in their task with these voters will be victorious.

2 comments:

Leslie said...

Good analysis. I've always said the devil is in the record. If Kennedy doesn't back off her paper trail, but hits hard and often, she's done.

Chris said...

She typically seems to vote against the majority of bills that have a more conservative overtone to them up until its election time at which point she will vote for the bill if it doesn't have a chance. Then that vote for it (and others) usually will be brought up at some point in her election by her or her staff.