Monday, June 05, 2006

A harbinger for the GOP

All eyes on turning toward the 50th Congressional District and the race there between Republican Brian Bilbray and Democrat Francine Busby. The Republicans ought to walk away with this election but they are struggling to keep their nose above water. Replacing former Congressman Cunningham, who is not in prison for taking bribes, is not easy for the Republicans. The predominanatly Republican district has been showing a lot of support for Busby and the GOP fears that if they lose this seat it will signal a mad rush by voters to the Democrats in protest over Bush and his policies.

In recent days the Republicans have flown in 1,000 campaign workers to pull out a win. They have poured in money and top Republicans for speaking engagements. Bilbray, more than Busby, gets money from outside the district. Worse yet Bilbray doesn't actually live in the district even though he claims he lives with his mother who does have a home there. Neighbours say he stops to visit now and then but no one seriously believes that he actually lives there. I guess he was having a "Bush moment".

Conservative National Review is trumpheting a new poll that shows Bilbray ahead by 2 points. The lead should be much stronger. I've looked at the poll and it strikes me as bizarre. Something is very wrong here. According to this poll Bilbray is getting 55% of the black vote while his Democratic opponent is receiving only 38%. That can't be right. In recent elections black voters tend to support the Democrats with over 90% support. For this one Republican to suddenly spurt ahead to 55% of the black vote --- well, I don't buy it especially since white voters are almost evenly split between the candidates.

Women also tend to prefer Democrats over Republicans and this poll shows them almost exactly split between the two candidates. I find that just a little strange. Not nearly as off the wall as the numbers on black voters but still a bit suspicious. In addition the poll shows Bilbray having a majority of the Hispanic vote even while he wants to throw undocument workers from Mexico out of the country. A lot of Hispanics vote Republican, a mystery to me, but this seems just a bit inflated. I don't know who will win come Tuesday and I don't think this poll is an indication either. There are a few too many odd things in the poll for me to believe it. Bilbrays highest support is among conservatives, Republicans and people with no higher education. Busby's is the opposite: those who are Democrats, liberals and have advanced levels of education. Moderates and independents support Busby.

In spite of all the effort the Republicans are missing something important here. First, they are spending a huge amount of money in the vain hope that this will somehow impact results come November. I don't think it will. Yes, a defeat here will mean they are deep trouble. A victor here doesn't mean they aren't. If they win this seat by a good margin then maybe they can stop worrying. But they won't. It will be close. They can lose. Win or lose the tightness of this race in a Republican stronghold indicates a swing against the Republicans.

In the US voters are closely split between Independents, Republicans and Democrats. Busby is easily winning all but the Republicans. In independent voters across the courty refuse to support the GOP, and it appears they will, then Bush will have severely damaged his own party. One is wondering when the Rove-like dirty tricks will come out? In the past these have always been last minute affairs. With just over one day to go before the polls open this is a race to watch.