Why Bob Casey will lose

(cross-posted at Booman Tribune)

I'm sure many of you may disagree with the premise of my diary - after all, several polls still show Casey with double-digit leads over Rick Santorum, such as Quinnipiac's latest poll. However, Matt Stoller's analysis of the latest Rasmussen poll may give us some cause for concern.

My reasons, though, for Bob Casey's defeat in November 2006 have more to do with the impression I got of his campaign when a senior staffer visited the 27th Ward Committee meeting last night. I had decided to attend to get a feel for the local politics of the area, and although I couldn't stay for the whole time (I missed Valerie McDonald-Roberts, who spoke shortly after I left), I did get to listen to the pitch for Bob Casey. One would expect to be more inspired after learning more about a candidate, but after this one, I was less inspired and less inclined to donate any time to the Casey campaign.

As this senior staffer took the floor to speak at the ward meeting (I don't recall her name, but apparently, she's been working with Casey for quite some time), she started expounding upon Casey's great work as Auditor General and his first couple of years in the Treasurer's office. It sounds like he's been doing good work in those positions, for sure - but, to be honest, being a senator goes far beyond those statewide issues. It may help his credentials as someone who will be fiscally responsible, but in no way does it reflect on the job he will do as a senator. What particularly struck me was the emphasis of the staffer on what Bob Casey has done in the past. There was no mention of what he might stand for as a senator. Of course, vague, appealing platitudes were thrown out towards the end - that Casey will fight for education, for lobbying reform, and so forth - but when you're speaking to a room full of people at a ward committee, this isn't your average American who may like the sound of those words. These are folks who are politically involved, politically aware, and will be able to detect a bullshit line right away.

Afterwards, there was time for Q&A, and it was clear that there was an 'elephant in the room', so to speak. That would obviously be Casey's anti-choice stance, but while the staffer acknowledged that he was 'pro-life' (I can't bring myself to call anti-abortion folks that anymore, given how the current administration's policies could not be less 'pro-life'), she brushed around the issue, stating that there were more important issues to be discussed in the race. I agree with this, but the political reality is that social issues, whether we like to discuss them or not, will be prominently displayed during the campaign. I raised my hand for a question, speaking about how, as a Democrat, I believe in largely broad ideals such as equality, justice, freedom to make one's own choices, helping out those who need help, etc. How then, I asked, can I support someone who denies these things on social issues - whether it be with abortion, gay adoption, and other important social issues? (by the way, thanks to jpol for having this post on Casey's stand on issues) The staffer had the audacity to say that Casey stood for gay rights, even though the answers he provided above are clearly hostile to such rights. The staffer made a point about making me visit Casey's website to see his positions on the issues. I did visit this morning, and, not to my surprise, there is nothing on the website about his positions on social issues. It's the sign of someone who is clearly scared to showcase their positions on the social issues; after all, it is a no-win situation for Casey: he can lose the support of his base for his extremely conservative social views, and he can lose the support of independents and moderates who are more socially liberal but may be more inclined to vote for Santorum if they see that Casey essentially holds the same views.

There was one more question that was similarly confrontational; one of the committeepersons asked why Casey hasn't taken a stance on any important issues, such as the war on Iraq. The staffer didn't really answer his question either, and I got the feeling that there was a sour taste left in a lot of people's mouths afterwards. We politely applauded after the Q&A was over, but it was disturbing to see what I thought was a great disconnect between the people who are running this campaign and the grassroots. I have never seen in my political experience (granted, it's not much, but I've volunteered for a few campaigns and have interned with Rep. Nita Lowey) a display of such arrogance. This staffer spoke down to us, as though her personal connection to Casey somehow made her qualified to tell us how we should think about him. She was rude to the point of cutting us off several times during questions, and, quite honestly, did not answer any of the relevant questions that she was asked.

Perhaps I'm wrong, and the Democratic base will embrace Casey more energetically as Election Day nears. But people should know that simply not being someone is not cause enough to win an election. It didn't work for John Kerry in 2004 (although, unlike Casey, Kerry did have a platform he was running on; he let everyone else frame the campaign as anti-Bush), and it certainly won't work for Casey in 2006. We in the grassroots may not like Rick Santorum - and he is one of the Republican politicians I dislike the most - but there is simply no way to inspire us to help his campaign out when they are hostile towards their own base. For these reasons - not standing for anything, being an extreme conservative on social issues to the point that Santorum would be proud, and for ignoring the base - Bob Casey will lose in November.

Tags: 2006 elections, Bob Casey, PA-Sen, Rick Santorum, Senate (all tags)



Re: Why Bob Casey will lose

Many PA voters may wind up realizing that while Casey is far from the perfect candidate, he's a hell of a lot better than Santorum. Sometimes beggars can't afford to be choosers, such as when they are part of a 55-44 disadvantage.

by mihan 2006-04-07 09:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Why Bob Casey will lose

I'm actually a Casey supporter and am confident that he will win in November, but I appreciate your thoughtful and intelligent critique.  

It definitely sounds like Casey needs to do a better job of articulating his views to the public generally and - more specifically - to the grassroots community whose support he will need to win the election.  That being said, I think it's only fair to point out that there are still 7 months till election day and he hasn't even won the nomination yet.  

After all, one of the few advantages for anyone challenging an incumbent - especially one with as much $ and power as Santorum - is that at least initially they aren't required to take the same kind of definitive stance on the issues as a sitting legislator.  Although Casey definitely needs to start rolling out a more solid platform, doing so too early will just give Santorum more time to distort and attack it with his boatloads of money.  

by HSTruman 2006-04-07 10:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Why Bob Casey will lose

No Casey fan I. (If I were living in PA I'd be voting for Chuck Pennacchio. But I live in L.A. and all I can do is tell my PA friends about him and raise money for him on my Act Blue Page.)

I hate what Santorum is doing to the country I love so much that I was toying with changing my voter registration from CA to PA. But a couple months ago I sold my house in Stroudsburg and... well, one less vote against Santorum.

Casey is so NOT my kind of Democrat. It looks to me that by electing this right-leaning turd to Congress we're creating another Lieberman or Zell Miller or Jim Marshall or Henry Cuellar. Aren't there too many of those already-- way too many? Please don't hesitate; there are. Casey is an abomination who gratuitously bragged that he would have voted to confirm Alito. He will enter the Senate and immediately be the worst Democrat in that body-- worse even than Bush's favorite Democrat, the execrable Joe Lieberman (if, God forbid, he isn't defeated in the primary).

But where I part company with the sharp analysis in this diary is that in the end any of this will matter. I don't believe it will. What's shaping up is a national referendum on the worst regime Americans have ever been stuck with and on the rubber-stamp congress that has enabled it.

Santorum is so identified with all the worst of BushCo that it doesn't matter how atrocious Casey is. He's not Santorum. That's why he'll win in November if if wins the primary.

by DownWithTyranny 2006-04-07 02:00PM | 0 recs
And are you looking forward to...

...the inevitable, baseless smears that Casey is too much of a radical liberal for Pennsylvania?  That's the problem with running to the right--no matter how far you veer, you'll ALWAYS be blasted as "too liberal".

by HellofaSandwich 2006-04-07 05:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Why Bob Casey will lose

I hope Casey will win in November so we can get rid of Santorum.  I'd have preferred a more liberal candidate, however.  I don't think we had to go to a pro-lifer to beat Santorum.  I'm very sad about this.

by ICantBelieve 2006-04-07 04:40PM | 0 recs
Do you really want to know why he'll lose?

One word: unibrow.

by HellofaSandwich 2006-04-07 05:31PM | 0 recs


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