Any March Madness Office Pool winner will tell you that the only way to win is to be able to pick the upsets. Sure, it's easy to go along with the crowd and just pick the favorite in each bracket, but that's lame and it's no way to win the pool.
I don't know anything about College Basketball, but I know a thing or two about politics, and the rules are the same. Anyone can list the favorites, but it's the upsets that count. So here are my thoughts on the favorites as well as picks for some upsets.
First, let me explain the premise that colors my analysis. Remember last year when we realized that the Primary had been moved from early September to late August? At that point the chattering class was pointing out that turnout would be incredibly low. Then in the last year, we saw the rise of the Tea Party, the economic recovery that wasn't, a massive shift away from the Democrats and an outpouring of resentment against incumbents. This caused the political class to believe that the motivated, ticked off voters would vote in huge numbers. However, turnout is indeed low.
What does this all mean?
It means that the 20% of voters who vote in the Republican primary are the Republican hard core and they are REALLY ticked off.
Ok. So, what are the implications? Well, for one thing it's impossible to poll in this environment because none of the turnout models have been based on a low turnout of almost exclusively ticked off Republicans. So we have no idea what the numbers look like. But here's how the low turnout could affect a few key races.
Hayworth v. McCain.
Conventional wisdom is McCain by twenty points. But now that the Governor's race has fizzled, the Senate race is the top of the ticket. McCain has 100% name ID and he has done a good job vilifying Hayworth. But Conservatives really don't like him--Amnesty, Bailouts, McCain Feingold, voting no on the Bush tax cuts--I could go on. I'm not going to say that Hayworth is going to win--but I'm not saying that it's impossible. Of course, after the $20 million carpet bombing that Hayworth has endured, the number could even be well over 20 points. We simply don't know in this race.
Schweikert wins CD5 handily. Turnout doesn't matter; he has sent enough mail and run enough TV that he would have won a high-turnout race. And he's done enough walking and organized enough house parties that he will win a low turnout race.
The real question is how long it takes Ward to move back to San Francisco.
Conventional wisdom is that Quayle was the favorite, but self destructed with his handling of the Dirty Scottsdale revelations. That means that Moak is likely to take the race--assuming that Quayle self destructed early enough.
I think the candidate to watch is Waring. He's represented the district for many years and he walks door to door every weekend. Remember that the race has 10 candidates and at least 7 of them are credible. So you can win with a really low vote count. CD 3 is actually looking like a large scale legislative race. That means that Waring's shoe leather is likely to offset Moak's money.
This is a really tough race to call. Beauchamp started strong but seemed to have faded. Gosar started slow but gained a lot of momentum. Sidney Hay won last time, and got in late this time but had enough residual name ID and organization that she got up to speed quickly. I don't think the pundit class can agree on a favorite, but it's likely that the conventional wisdom is Sidney Hay.
However, if you factor in my turnout assumptions and recal that Bowers is the only one who has held office before and that he's the only LDS candidate and add that the Legislative District 5 Senate race is a slug fest that will increase turnout in that part of the district and then factor in that there are a lot of credible candidates to divide up the vote--I think Bowers has a good shot in a low turnout race.
Paton underestimated Kelly and it may cost him, but I don't think so. Once Paton focused on Kelly, the race shifted. Paton has been raising plenty of money and the Tucson Tea Party folks have managed to get the word out that Kelly has been earning a living off Stimulus money for the last couple years. That race will be close, but should go to Paton.
This isn't even a race. Jeff Smith is taking on Jeff Flake. Smith has no money and no chance--in fact, he should lose by 20 points. Flake has led the nation on Congressional reform by eliminating the corruption that comes from Earmarks and pork. However, fiscal conservatism and limited government aren't the issue this cycle. The issue is immigration and Flake is on the wrong side of it--and don't forget that he sponsored a Cap and Trade tax*. (Skip down to the next paragraph and read the correction from Jeff.)
Enjoyed your analysis. Insightful as always. One point I need to clarify is that I have sponsored a payroll tax/carbon tax swap, not a Cap and Trade tax. There is no caping or trading under my legislation. Just a swap between payroll taxes and carbon taxes.
Again, great analysis. On to Tuesday!
If Flake wins by less than 20 points against an unknown and unfunded opponent, he will be demonstrating a surprising weakness that's likely to be taken advantage of next cycle....and you can forget his chances of getting through a primary for the US Senate.
It's going to be a conservative sweep, except in the AG race. Thomas is technically the more conservative candidate, but I don't think Conservatives trust his judgment. He's going to get crushed in the out counties and frankly, I don't even think he'll win Maricopa County. Horne should win this race.
Maricopa County Attorney
The Republic has steadfastly refused to cover this race. I think the goal was to ensure that Montgomery never had a chance to build name ID. The conventional wisdom is Romley by a healthy margin. Under my turnout scenario, I think it's Montgomery by 5 points.
On Square Off, Stan Barnes pointed out that my prediction of a Montgomery victory conflicted with my prediction of a Horne victory. That's a good point, but I think people will are wise to Thomas and will vote for Horne. Also remember that Montgomery is running in Maricopa County and Thomas is running state wide. Thomas will get crushed in Pima County.
Conventional wisdom would tend toward Ducey because of his financial advantage. While, I don't think the hits on Ducey over his property taxes and corporate filings are fair--the CEO doesn't handle routine paperwork--I think that those problems make him vulnerable to Democratic attack.
I voted for Leff. I think she's the most credible candidate in the race and is the most likely to be able to compete with Andrei Cherny.
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Dugan is a really nice person, but Huppenthal wins big. Hupp is the Senate Education Chairman, former Senate Leadership and he's been elected for the past 16 years. He's done a great job which is why the Democrats hate him so much. I have never seen such vitreole heaped on one person as the Dems have piled on Huppenthal.
The Democratic Primary is going to be fun to watch. Penney Kotterman exemplifies the education establishment, but Jason Williams beat the establishment candidate (Slade Mead) last cycle. I think it would be fun to see Williams beat Kotterman.
LD 5 and LD 11
There are two legislative races that feature moderates who are well financed against Conservatives who aren't. If my turnout model is right, then the Conservatives will do better than expected. That gives the edge to Allen in her race against Konopnicki and to Davis in his race against Driggs. If both Conservatives win then Russell Pearce has a good shot at being Senate President.
So those are my predictions. As you can tell from the Truman picture and the title, I recognize that it's easy to make a fool of myself, but those are my thoughts.
I'm interested to know what you think.