Sunday, April 09, 2006

First Democratic Senate debate

Yesterday was the first public debate between the three Democratic contenders for the nomination for U.S. Senate -- Robert Casey (Jr.), Chuck Pennacchio, and Alan Sandals. It was rebroadcast this afternoon, when I managed to catch it on local public cable. On the whole I thought it was a well-run debate, and that the three contenders acquitted themselves well, which is good for the voters and the party.

My two major impressions were the following:
  1. This is the second time that I have seen Pennacchio and Sandals. Their views on many issues are quite similar---they're both progressives---but their styles and emphases differ. In both cases I was more impressed with Sandals, and he is my choice in the primary. (I know that this will disappoint the fervent Pennacchio supporters, and I know that the latter may have a head-start on organization-building, but because I think that both of these men are long-shots in the primary, I prefer to vote my simple personal preference, rather than agonizing over strategic considerations for the long haul.)

  2. This is the first chance that I've had to see Bob Casey in action. (I did see one previous TV interview, but it dated from around the time of his last election and didn't touch on the hotter issues of the current race.) I was favorably impressed. He's not a spit-fire, nor, as we already knew, is he as progressive as the other primary contenders. However, I found him well-prepared and well-spoken, and he did support many issues on which Democrats agree (and differ from current national leadership). I was most impressed, however, with how he handled the hot-button issue of choice---he couldn't claim to be anything other than pro-life, of course, but he made clear the many ways in which his views on the issue differ from those of Sen. Santorum (such as support for birth control and sex education), and he also expressed the hope that difficult topics could be discussed, not just warred over, and that central ground could be found in many cases. Yes, I would prefer that all the candidates be more proactive about a woman's right to control the fate of her body, but I was pleased to see that Casey was prepared to handle criticism of his position, and that he had plenty of ammunition for ways in which his holding the office would improve the lives of Pennsylvanians. It made me feel better about the prospect that I might find myself working to support him in the fall...
That's all for now. Let me give the caveat that these are just my overall impressions (noted several hours after watching), and it's entirely possible that I would note different things if reviewing the transcript. Also, there's one more debate planned for April 19, if you want to get a look for yourselves.

Update: Above Average Jane also reports her impressions, and Fact-esque actually did live-blogging coverage of the debate, with questions asked and many of the points made (whew!).



Anonymous Austin said...

It really isn't that much of a long shot. I know what the polls have been saying but you need to take into account that these "likely voters" are not likely to vote.

I can't remember what poll it was but I remember reading how 83% of respondents considered themselves likely voters. Quinnipiac's polling seems not to ask or try to weed out people who are not likely to vote.

The fact of the matter is that 10-20% of those Democrats will actually show up to vote. A method often used to determine how likely someone is to vote is how much they know about a candidate or how much they have thought about that race. Abortion is certainly the issue that is discussed most often when people talk about Casey a "pro-life" Democrat. But 69% of people say they dont know where he is on the issue and 8% think he is pro-choice.

Voters know nothing about this guy and he wont have good turn out because of it. I predict his supporters will show up at a rate of 10% whereas Chuck's people are informed, and pissed off for the most part. I bet they vote at a rate of at least 95%.

So looking again at the latest Q poll showing the primary at 63 to 4 to 5. I'm very confident that Chuck can win. I'm also very confident that Sandals' support comes mainly from the noise about the NOW PAC because even after spending the majority of his money on TV ads he was polling at less than 1%.

Also he is running his campaign with paid staff and not activist volunteers so I don't feel he has canabalized many Chuck voters. But I do feel that if he were to step out of the race in the final week and endorse Chuck than Chuck would have it in the bag.

Remeber that Finegold was in the single digits in his three way primary battle throughout all of the polling. He took 70% of the primary vote.

3:37 PM  
Blogger ACM said...

well, I'd be willing to grant Chuck a huge yield in Philadelphia, for essentially the reasons you cite. but I'm not at all convinced that that holds state-wide, and I even know people who favor Chuck's or Alan's positions but who are going to vote Casey out of fear that one of the others couldn't beat Santorum. so it's tough to predict an upset. but bring the battle!

3:50 PM  
Anonymous Austin said...

I would go further and say that the overwhelming majority of people who are voting for Casey are doing so soley because they feel he can beat Santorum.

My frustration with reporting on this race is that they are ignoring Question 2 that asks "if you were to learn that Casey is..." how would you vote. When ... is pro-life Casey is losing by 5 according to Rasmussen and down to 2 or less according to Quinnipiac and 1.7 according to Zogby.

He is also very conservative on several other social and economic issues that I'm sure someone has listed here before. The thing is moving to the right dosen't help us beat people who are already there when PAers want health care and living wage.

Casey had a 17 point lead in his only ever tough race that he turned into a 12 point loss. Chuck actually has experience winning US Senate elections against hard right opponents who actually had good favorability marks.

As far as Chuck goes in the T its the same as in the city the more people know about him the more they like him. I think we can win my county Luzerne and Monroe.

4:16 PM  

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