Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Are Elections Won? Or Are They Lost?
In today's era, or perhaps in any era, how often does a challenger to an incumbent truly winan election? Controlling for an unexpected skeleton dancing out of a closet, how often does the challenger truly persuade the electorate that "The incumbent is good, but you should elect me because I'm better?"
Isn't it actually the case that where an incumbent loses an election, and even more the case when there is a statewide or national movement toward one party over another, that the incumbent politician or party is perceived as having somehow proved himself unfit to govern? And it's not so much that the challenger is necessarily better, but that the challenger is the only other realistic option?
I'm not trying to indict democracy or gerrymandering. I'm just having a hard time thinking of a political campaign where an incumbent lost, let alone where a party lost control of Congress or a Parliament, despite being viewed as effective on election day. Isn't this why negative campaigning is so effective? Why it is now preferred to have a Karl Rove secretly open his bag of dirty tricks rather than actually debating the issues?