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Media template accepts dubious Senate race conjecture

With all due respect, some of my colleagues have not thoroughly thought through the notion that incumbent Sen. David Vitter’s reelection campaign faces any real trouble, and in doing so unwittingly play into the media template that Vitter will have great difficulty, or even lose, that bid.

As recently analyzed, drawing new Republican and independent opposition by the time filing ended last week hardly changes the dynamics that make Vitter’s reelection almost a sure thing. Unfortunately, my colleagues did not seem to catch that piece, as one thinks former Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Chet Traylor can be a major competitor to Vitter for the GOP nomination, buffered by recent personnel turmoil on Vitter’s staff, while another believes state Rep. Ernest Wooton’s entry into the general election disproportionately can harm Vitter.

Both claims are dubious at best. To win a Senate major party nomination, much less an entire campaign, you need a lot of money, planning, and ability to contrast favorably against your opponent to the majority of voters. Traylor indicates part of what got him to enter the contest, after some encouragement he testifies by others, was the incident where a Vitter staffer was revealed to have been accused of holding against her will a woman and inflicting injury on her in 2008 but which only came to light in the past month (along with the coming to light of other past legal run-ins about which Vitter had not known).

This shows that Traylor only recently decided to go for it – which means he won’t have much money and little time (now less than six weeks) to embark on this major effort. Compounding his difficulties is that it’s a contest to see whether statewide even one percent of the voting public know about the problem with Vitter’s staffer or know who Traylor is, who left office about two years ago. It takes months of steady campaigning to build name recognition to be competitive, and Traylor will have about a month with, at this time, few resources to do it. By contrast, 94 percent of the public has an opinion about Vitter, of which 62 percent see him favorably. Given that Vitter and Traylor probably won’t differ much on issues it’s very difficult to see how Tarylor will be competitive for, much less win, the nomination.

(Traylor might be a bit better known in northeast Louisiana, where his district was. But oddly, when interviewed about the contest, Traylor apparently asserted he ran statewide for the seat and mentioned this as a strength of his candidacy. In fact, he was elected out of the Fourth Supreme Court District. Either the reporter completely got it wrong or Traylor is confused which certainly would not commend him as a U.S. Senator, even if a number of them particularly on the liberal side of the aisle do actually seem constantly confused.)

Wooton is said to be able to draw Republican votes and would be an alternative for conservative Republicans. Besides the fact that Wooton likewise has close to zero name recognition statewide, little in the way of campaign funds, and does not even seem to ponder campaigning seriously (remarking that he planned mainly an Internet-based campaign and as a result “I’ve got to learn how to Twitter”), Wooton has not had a conservative voting record in the House (a Louisiana Legislature Log score of 40 this year and averaging about 45 from 2005, where 100 is the most conservative/reform voting) and until a couple of years ago was a Democrat his entire elected career. Plus, he lives in expected Democrat nominee Rep. Charlie Melancon’s district. Thus, it’s just as likely if not more so that he’d take votes from Melancon than from Vitter in the general election.

Despite all of this information, expect to see a spate of stories along these lines (and much less temperate if ill-informed ones) in the media until Vitter does, likely convincingly, win in November. If there’s one political figure less liked by most of the state’s media than Gov. Bobby Jindal, it’s Vitter who knows this and, to some degree like Jindal, makes noncooperation part of his strategy in dealing with them: he knows the media will run with any and every negative narrative about him, so he won’t give them potential ammunition, legitimacy, and relevance by his limiting communication with them. Which infuriates the media all the more because the one thing they loath to think of themselves as and be made is irrelevant.

Most in the media would enjoy a Vitter defeat, so any source information that confirms a template where this could happen is welcomed into dissemination by them. Whether the conclusions drawn from that data stand the test of validity or even use accurate information is another matter.


Anonymous said...

It's pretty amazing to see the good professor label actions of others as "dissemnination" when he includes this in his on "objective" analysis:

"Traylor indicates part of what got him to enter the contest, after some encouragement he testifies by others, was the incident where a Vitter staffer was revealed to have been accused of holding against her will a woman and inflicting injury on her in 2008 but which only came to light in the past month (along with the coming to light of other past legal run-ins about which Vitter had not known)."

Now a casual reader would gather from the way the professor phrases that comment that Vitter was unaware until recently of the incident involving the woman and the other "run-ins" with the law.

Yet the truth is Vitter knew all about the incident where his aide held the woman hostage with a knife, when it happened, and knew when the same aide plea-bargained down to a misdemeanor for the crime. After that Vitter continued to have this aide in charge of issues dealing with women.

I have to wonder what would make a person become so disingenous to attempt to deceive his readers. I would really feel better if I knew the good professor was on Vitter's payroll, rather than think that his biased "dissemnination" is being done out of malice alone.

Again, I certainly hope that the professor doesn't use such tricks to evade the truth in his classroom.

James S said...

The liberal Advocate is engaging in wishful thinking. Vitter by a mile, his opponents of both parties are a bunch of clowns.

Anonymous said...

You are actually a political science professor? Seriously? In Louisiana? Surprising as you know not of what you speak.

Charlie Cook, one of the top political analysts in America (and originally from Shreveport) has just changed this race from "likely Republican" to "leans Republican". And why? Because of Chet Traylor and the recent news of Vitter's staffer.

Anyone who actually believes that voters will not hold Vitter's prostitution past and his staffer snafu against him is so blinded by partisan hackery that he cannot see the truth.

Will Traylor beat Vitter? Probably not. But what Traylor's candidacy will force Vitter to do is spend a lot of money defending himself which he would not have to do otherwise. By the time the Republican primary is over, Melancon and Vitter will be tied in cash on hand.

Not only will this help Melancon greatly, but the state's voters will get exposed once again to Vitter's sick perverted past.

Cook is right. It is now "lean Republican". But by the time the primary is over, it will be a "toss up".

And I will be back to tell you "I told you so".

Anonymous said...

It is amazing how the above anonymous thinks anyone other than his own little DailyKos morons believe his drivel. Go back to San Francisco and elect another Commie or two.

Landman of the Apocalypse said...

Anonymous 3, any Republican in the contest will at least draw blood in the primary.

The female vote in the general could mobilize against him. The "this guy creeps me out" vote may turn out with more vigor than those who support him. We shall see.

Having been a voice against Huey Long and his ilk for years, The Advocate cannot fairly be called "liberal."

Having spent most of my life in BR, I can tell you that The Advocate is not known for hard-hitting journalism for or against any cause. The fact that even they got their dander up may be a bellwether for non-partisan voters.

Republican-leaning sounds right to me, but the primary will be fun to watch.