Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Keller: Deval Patrick should quit before he wins again

Channel 4 political editor, crank, and Deval Patrick-hater Jon Keller came up with a real doozy earlier this week in relation to a new Rasmussen poll showing the Governor with a big lead in his re-election race. How does Keller think Patrick should respond to the news that he’s on his way to reelection? Quit!
If Gov. Deval Patrick were to win re-election despite half the electorate wanting him out and only 14% admitting to a very favorable view of him - as this poll suggests would happen if the election were held today - what would re-election be worth? How would he function as a weak, widely-disliked lame duck, dealing with a hostile legislature? Why would he want to be in such a position? And how can he argue that it's in the best interests of the state to suffer through four years of that?
Seriously? The governor is so far ahead that he should quit, saving us the pain of four more years of Deval (despite the fact that we appear to be voting him back into office)? That might be the most ridiculous thing I’m going to read in the 12 months leading up to the election. Definitely the leader in the clubhouse.

Why does Keller fear that Patrick will win? Looking more closely at the numbers, it’s hard to see how Patrick loses. The scenario where Tim Cahill’s candidacy would hand Patrick another term appears to be coming true. Here are the numbers:
With Christy Mihos as the Republican nominee:
Deval Patrick (D) -- 34%
Christy Mihos (R) -- 23%
Tim Cahill (I) -- 23%
Not sure -- 19%
With Charlie Baker as the Republican nominee:
Deval Patrick (D) -- 34%
Charlie Baker (R) -- 24%
Tim Cahill (I) -- 23%
Not sure -- 19%
Patrick currently holds at least a 10-point lead. In a best-case scenario for a challenger (assuming these numbers hold as a minimum—a dicey assumption 12 months out), the third place finisher would end up with at least 23%, meaning it would only take 39% of the vote to win. To get to 39%, Patrick could lose the “Not Sure” voters by as much as 3-1 to whomever finishes second and still be victorious (39-38-23).

In a scenario where the two challengers split the undecided vote evenly, Patrick could still win even if he picked up no votes from that group (34-33-33).

In other words, Patrick only loses a race with three strong candidates under a scenario where the economy gets so much worse over the next 12 months that Patrick loses the support he has.

And while it is certainly possible that things will get worse, there is a pretty good chance that the economy is starting to turn around. If that happens—even a little—then the only way Patrick loses is if Cahill drops out or if Patrick suffers some sort of scandal that isn’t even on the radar at this time.

Keller is smart enough to figure this out—he knows that unless things get even worse, the only way Patrick loses is if he quits.

Of course, Keller fails to mention the obvious. A Republican who wins with only 35% of the vote will also be a “weak, widely-disliked lame duck, dealing with a hostile legislature.” If Cahill were to win, the same would apply. So why not ask one of them to quit, Jon?
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