Well, of course he did!
October 28, 2010, 7:19 pm MICHAEL D. SHEAR AND JEFF ZELENY
Former President Bill Clinton last week tried to convince Kendrick Meek, the Democratic candidate for Senate in Florida, to drop out of the race – but Mr. Meek changed his mind at the last minute, a spokesman for Mr. Clinton said Thursday evening.
Matt McKenna, Mr. Clinton’s spokesman, said the former president believed that Mr. Meek would not win on Tuesday and was urging him to drop out and endorse Charlie Crist, the state’s governor, who is running for the Senate as an independent.
The back-channel efforts by Mr. Clinton, which were first reported by Politico, were apparently an effort to prevent the state’s Senate seat from falling into the hands of Marco Rubio, the Republican who is leading both of his rivals in the polls.
There had been reports that for several weeks that Mr. Meek was being urged to consider dropping out of the contest. But the Democrat said repeatedly that he was staying in until the end.
Governor Crist, elected as a Republican, decided to run for the Senate as an independent when it became clear that he was going to lose the Republican primary to Marco Rubio. Considering the success the former President had in persuading Representative Joe Sestak (D-PA) to withdraw from the Democratic senatorial primary against Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA), perhaps he should have decided against this move.
The opinion polls show a consistent lead for Mr Rubio, and The New York Times’ Project 538 gives Mr Rubio an 89.9% probability of victory. The most recent poll, from Quinnipiac University, has Mr Rubio leading Mr Crist by 42% to 35%, with Mr Meek trailing badly at 15%.
In a lot of ways, these midterm elections are a lot more national in scope than any since 1994. You see Republicans running against President Obama and Speaker Nancy Pelosi as much as they are running against their Democratic opponents, while you see many — though certainly not all — Democrats telling the voters how gosh darned independent they are. No wonder:
Obama Coalition Is Fraying, Poll Finds
By Jim Rutenberg and Megan Thee-Brenan, The New York Times
Critical parts of the coalition that delivered President Obama to the White House in 2008 and gave Democrats control of Congress in 2006 are switching their allegiance to the Republicans in the final phase of the midterm Congressional elections, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.
Republicans have wiped out the advantage held by Democrats in recent election cycles among women, Roman Catholics, less affluent Americans and independents. All of those groups broke for Mr. Obama in 2008 and for Congressional Democrats when they grabbed both chambers from the Republicans four years ago, according to exit polls.
If women choose Republicans over Democrats in House races on Tuesday, it will be the first time they have done so since exit polls began tracking the breakdown in 1982.
The poll provides a pre-Election Day glimpse of a nation so politically disquieted and disappointed in its current trajectory that 57 percent of the registered voters surveyed said they were more willing to take a chance this year on a candidate with little previous political experience. More than a quarter of them said they were even willing to back a candidate who holds some views that “seem extreme.”
It’s all bad news for the Democrats, but it holds a strong warning for the Republicans: there are a lot of voters out there with no real party loyalty who seem willing to give the Republicans a chance, but if the Republicans don’t actually deliver on their promises, those voters will desert the GOP as easily as they left the “Obama Coalition.”
When the voters switch party preferences in an election, the political pundits, and even some of the political scientists, start musing about a realigning election. We heard that talk in 1994, and again in 2008, though the last dramatic and lasting party realignment came in the 1932 election. It seems to me that 1994 was the culmination of a far more gradual drift, as the Democrats abandoned conservatism completely, thus losing their dwindling base in the South. The poor economy in 1992 and the nomination of a seemingly moderate Southern governor may have delayed it a bit, but 1994 had plenty of prior indicators, as Republicans had slowly been gaining officeholders since 1978.
The Democratic victories of 2006 and 2008 led to predictions of the death of the Republican Party and another Democratic shift, but those victories sure seem ephemeral these days. It’s far simpler to attribute them to disgust with the Republican base with Republican overspending, the war in Iraq, and the economic downturn just before the 2008 election. Those things were temporary.
I have to wonder if the days of political realignment aren’t something in the past, something we’re unlikely to see again. The number of people registering as independents is very large, which suggests a sense of disgust with both parties, and which suggests to me a large group which will be swayed by more immediate concerns than by any lingering party loyalty.
The lesson for the Republicans is clear: these people can be won over, but only as long as the Republicans actually deliver. The same lesson holds true for the Democrats, and, right now, the perception is that the Democrats failed to deliver what the public wanted, and did deliver what wasn’t desired. What have you done for me lately?
If the Republicans actually keep their promises, Yorkshire and John Hitchcock and AOTC and I will be just as happy five days before the 2012 elections as we are now; if they don’t, it’ll be Perry and Henry Whistler and MikeG with the smiles on their faces.