Following up on my fascination with the Arkansas primary — perhaps the reddest blue state in America — I was pleased that Sen. Lincoln survived to fight another day.
Her estimated 45 percent of the vote was not enough to win outright. But considering that the spoiler candidate in the race — D.C. Morrison — “ran to the ideological right of both [Lincoln] and Halter,” she has a decent chance of prevailing in the runoff against Halter, the progressives’ favorite.
Of course, as always, the final verdict will depend on voter turn-out in the run-off election. Lincoln edged Halter in the primary by fewer than 7,000 votes out of more than 300,000 cast. If the same volume of voters show up during the run-off, and if a mere 50.1 percent of Morrison’s 40,000-plus voters go to Lincoln, she probably wins. But those are some significant “if’s.”
UPDATE: I may have been too quick to assume that low approval ratings for the President have much to do with individual Democrat’s chances for victory. The President’s approval rating in Pennsylvania’s 12th District matches his rating in Arkansas: 35 percent. PA-12 is, of course, where Democrat Mark Critz just beat Republican Tim Burns by eight points to fill the seat of the late Democratic Rep. John Murtha. How does that happen? In part, by keeping the race focused on local or state issues rather than national concerns.
The playbook from the Pennsylvania special election isn’t complicated: Make the election a choice between two local candidates and not a national referendum on the Democratic Party or the state of the nation; savage the Republican from the outset and don’t let up; keep the focus on jobs and core economic issues; most important, separate yourself from your national party’s policies and politicians as necessary.