Pragmatism is great, but what of the Giant Killers?

(note: I originally wrote this for dailykos, where I think the syndrome is most pronounced, but i'd love to see some feedback here too)

I'm a pragmatist, most definitely, I like to think of myself as a pragmatic progressive populist. I like to win, I think we need to. We also need to beware of making winning the only thing. For instance back in early 2004, I remember when we had the first blogosphere announcements of the kos dozen.The criteria that people voted on were varied and numerous, some people voted tactically, some based on analysis of poll results and previous trends, some based on strength of character. You name it.

Personally, I loved the entire process, and it's one of the things I lament the most about the change in "netroots endorsements", but I digress, perhaps part of it can be chalked up to things like redstates constant taunting and their increasingly "inventive" math to try to paint anything we do as unsuccessful, but it seems like pragmatism has been the watchword of the day, to the point that we (the blogosphere) have been ready to throw good candidates under the bus, or leave them at the bus stop at least.

However, what of the giant killers?
(much, much more behind the cut)

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NV-Sen - Jack Carter is going to Win

Hi, everyone.  As you know, my Dad is Jack Carter, who's running for US Senate in Nevada.  We've got two days before the end of the fundraising period, and we really want to show some good numbers by then, so please give now if you can.

You may have seen my fundraising pitch last week over at Daily Kos or the diary from my grandpa, Jimmy Carter, a couple of days ago.  I really hope you aren't sick of Carters just yet.  This time around, I thought I'd give you some good motivation for why you should believe in Jack Carter and dig as deep as you can.

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Jack Carter on Air America and other Campaign Updates

In this post:

  • My Dad, US Senate candidate in Nevada Jack Carter, was on the San Francisco Air America affiliate Wednesday morning.  Excerpts below.
  • We have a great new Rural Nevada Field Director: Marcia de Braga.
  • Paul Hackett's IAVA (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America) PAC attacks John Ensign, my Dad's opponent, for comments he made about war critics "emboldening the enemy."

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Ensign Still Not in the Clear in Nevada

At this point, few of the top pundits see the Nevada Senate race as competitive or even potentially competitive. Currently, the Cook Political Report (.pdf) rates the race "safe Republican" and Chuck Todd calls Nevada the 17th most competitive Senate race this year -- behind even Florida, where Democrat Bill Nelson is just crushing the train wreck that is Katherine Harris.

It's fairly clear that the Nevada Senate race is not yet competitive; Ensign holds a massive fundraising lead over his Democratic challenger Jack Carter, and most polling from the race shows Ensign with a lead in the double digits. Nevertheless, these numbers don't paint the entire picture of this race.

Let's start with Ensign's numbers. According to the latest polling from SurveyUSA, Ensign's approval rating is not great -- but not terrible, either -- with 50 percent of Nevadans approving and 37 percent disapproving. Looking at the trend for these numbers, however, one notices that Ensign's disapproval rating is up 5 points since February, an increase that has been driven more by Independents (disapproval up 7 points) and Republicans (disapproval up 6 points) than by Democrats (disapproval up only 2 points). In fact, if Nevada Democrats were a little less approving of Ensign (currently 42 percent of party members in the state approve of the conservative Senator), Ensign's numbers would surely be much lower -- perhaps even in the net negative territory.

Just as Ensign's net approval ratings have been diminishing in recent months, so too has his lead over Carter, the son of the 39th President. A poll commissioned last month by the Las Vegas Review-Journal showed Ensign with a seemingly insurmountable 60 percent to 27 percent lead over Carter. But just a few short weeks later, a seperate poll from the Reno Gazette-Journal shows Ensign's lead to be more than a dozen points smaller at 52 percent to 32 percent.

While the Nevada Senate race might not be competitive yet today, it's becoming more and more clear that there is a possibility that it will become competitive before the election season is out. Sure, Carter -- who has been doing a great job of reaching out to the netroots with the help of his daughter Sarah and who spoke with MyDD just last month -- needs to do a better job of introducing himself to Nevadans, and particularly Nevada's Democrats. What's more, Carter needs to bulk up his fundraising numbers soon. (You can help by visiting his website.)

That all said, the numbers from this race don't lie; Ensign isn't the most popular politician these days, and if a Democratic candidate can whip party members into line by election day, Harry Reid just might have another Democratic vote as he seeks to become Senate Majority Leader in January.

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NV-Sen - Carter at the State Convention

Cross-posted at the Carter Blog

As many of you know, my Dad is Nevada Senate Candidate Jack Carter.  At the beginning of his campaign, I wrote about his Announcement events, which included my grandpa, Jimmy Carter.  About a month ago, I told you about going out to five Northern Nevada counties in one day to talk to folks at their County Conventions.  Today, I'm going to tell you about going to the state Democratic Convention, which took place this past weekend in Las Vegas.  It was a lot of fun, and everyone said that Dad's speech was the best speech that he'd ever given.

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