Monday, May 3, 2010

who's going to win in the 9th (District)?

We've had a unique GOP primary here in the 9th District of Indiana-- presumably, the only time a five-time candidate has gone up against two serious campaigners.

I've made it quite clear that I think Travis Hankins is the best candidate-- the best policy combination on fiscal, domestic, and military policy; an eloquent and passionate defender of the Constitution and the pursuit of (far more) limited government.

I've always thought that Todd Young was a good candidate and I've grown to respect his fiscal conservatism even more as the campaign has proceeded. Todd's campaign has stirred up a lot of unpleasant opposition-- largely a mix of ad hominems and accusations. Perhaps it's deserved, but I haven't seen proportionate evidence and my personal encounters with Todd don't line up with what I hear. In a word, if it's not Travis, I hope it's Todd.

Mike Sodrel would be a relatively effective "no" vote against President Obama and a Democratic Congress. But his ability to make a difference within a GOP Congress is far less likely. (And if the GOP is going to gain control and make a difference, it's going to take principled leadership.) If Mike would own his political experience (not just on social policy and taxes, but also spending) and would have been consistent on debates over the years, I would be much more comfortable about his return to Washington. But sadly, that hasn't happened. While Mike would be far better than Baron, I can't get excited about a Sodrel victory in May.

Before I get to my prediction, I few observations/questions:

I can easily imagine ALL three candidates earning between 20-40% of the vote. I can picture ALL three candidates finishing first, second, or third.

If Sodrel wins in a blow-out, that does not bode well for the near-term future of the GOP-- in general, or in particular, in dealing with our country's financial issues.

I don't know of any polling since the publicly-released Sodrel internal poll before most voters were paying attention. Sodrel had a sizable but vulnerable lead at that point: 46 vs. Hankins' 19 and Young's 13. If Hankins and Young could each attract 10% from Sodrel, then Hankins would win.

I'm guessing that the (good) weather forecast for tomorrow is good news for Sodrel more than Young more than Hankins. In terms of passion from their supporters, Hankins has more "broken glass voters"-- those who will walk over broken glass to vote for him.

Hankins will probably win the north and northeast parts of the district-- although under-emphasized, the area with the most GOP primary voters. The key question is whether Hankins will win or dominate. The yard signs on private property in that part of the district are one-sided for Hankins, but how does that translate to votes? In any case, he probably needs to dominate that part of the district to win.

Young has been pounding Sodrel and making strides in terms of earned media (especially with the attacks on Sodrel's record) and paid media (with a big advertising buy). The key question
is the extent to which these have generated support and voters. Looking at the events where I've been, I haven't seen it on the ground. And relying on the testimony of others, I haven't heard the sort of buzz he would need to win. Then again, perhaps there's been a groundswell in the last few weeks or his voters are numerous but less vocal.

Sodrel has the name recognition but also the baggage of four previous campaigns and one term of service (certainly not optimal by "conservative" standards-- if one mixes in his mediocre fiscal conservatism). The key question is the extent to which GOP primary voters want to try something new-- dissatisfaction with his voting record, wanting someone who they think will be more likely to beat Baron Hill in November, sheer boredom (Hill/Sodrel again?!), or out of principle (why did Sodrel jump in so late when there were two good candidates?).

Here are my assumptions about those questions-- and thus, how I get my prediction:
-I think Hankins will dominate in the north/northeast.
-I think Young has made significant in-roads, competing with Sodrel in the rest of the district.
-I think a lot of people want to choose someone other than Sodrel.

A few other observations:

Sodrel probably thinks it's close-- or thinks he's behind. If he were far ahead, he would not have responded to Young's attacks on his record. Sodrel's threat of a lawsuit was also odd. He's either taking all of this quite personally and responding despite a sizable lead (unlikely), feeling the heat from Young coming from behind, or desperately trying to regain the lead after being supplanted.

Young and Sodrel are largely competing over the same voters, geographically. Hankins probably has had most of his voters in hand for awhile-- both in terms of those voters' interests (do they like him and his positions) and the geography. In this sense, a stronger Young helps Hankins.

The nature of a grass-roots campaign is that it will not receive as much attention-- within the media, especially national or urban-outside-of-the-district.
Is Hankins not strong enough to win or just being overlooked by the usual suspects? This is certainly the year for an outsider and a grass-roots campaign to be successful. Travis' strategy to pound the north/northeast part of the district was the best choice for a number of reasons. But will it work?

I think it will.
My prediction: Hankins 36; Sodrel 33; Young 30; Warren 1.

Of course, paraphrasing Dennis Miller: maybe this is just hopeful projection on my part; I could be wrong. In any case, we'll probably know soon enough!


At May 3, 2010 at 1:20 PM , Blogger Jenna said...

GO HANKINS!!!!!!!!!!!!


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