Jewish World Review Sept. 14, 2006 / 21 Elul, 5766
What the election results really mean
By Michael Barone
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Sen. Lincoln Chafee won his GOP Senate primary in Rhode Island by a 54-to-46 percent margin over Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey. That's an unimpressive margin for an incumbent senator. And Chafee seems to be running only even in polls against Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse. But Laffey ran far behind Whitehouse in polls, and Chafee's renomination was the only way Republicans could hope to hold this seat in what is by some measures the nation's most Democratic stateKerry over Bush, 59 to 39 percent.
But the big news here is the success of the Republican turnout machine. The National Republican Senatorial Committee ran tough ads against Laffeyhitting him for being lax on immigration, for exampleand the Republican National Committee sent in hundreds of operatives to turn out the vote for Chafee. Many conservatives are angry about this, of course, but whatever you think about it, it seemed to work. With 98 percent of precincts reporting, here's the count, courtesy of Marc Ambinder of National Journal's Hotline (the Rhode Island secretary of state's website doesn't seem to have election returns: for shame).
RI SEN:Chafee: 54% .... 33,685 Laffey : 46% .... 29,276
As you can see, Chafee's lead is 4,409 votes out of 62,961 cast. I have to believe the RNC's turnout drive made the difference.
More than 60,000 votes in a state of 1,080,000 people doesn't sound like much of a turnout. It's 14 percent of the 437,134 who voted in the 2004 general election. But it's hugely bigger than the turnout in recent Republican primaries in Rhode Island. And it's almost as much as the number of registered Republicans in September 2004: 65,377. Here are the turnout numbers:
Those aren't misprints. NRSC and RNC spinners, if they were completely shameless, could say that Chafee got 1,417 percent more primary votes than he did six years ago. And maybe they will.
Another example of shameless spin. The National Republican Congressional Committee poured in money to help primary candidate Steve Huffman in the Arizona Eighth District. He lost 43 to 37 percent to immigration restrictionist Randy Graf, who had held longtime incumbent Jim Kolbe, who is retiring, to a 57-to-43 percent primary victory margin in 2004. Graf has been weaker in general election polls than Huffman, and Kolbe and others believe that Graf will have a hard time winning the general election. Here's the sum total of the NRSC's official comment on the race:
Randy Graf(R) will face Gabrielle Giffords (D) in the general election to replace Rep. Jim Kolbe (R), who is retiring from office.
The clear contrast between the candidates on taxes and immigration should serve to galvanize Southern Arizona's conservative base. In addition, Gabrielle Giffords has shown signs that she may not be ready for primetime.
The Arizona Daily Star reported last month on Giffords' misleading TV ad. Gabrielle Giffords said to the camera that when legislators "tried to sneak through cuts to care for seniors and kick thousands off health care," she "blocked that late-night vote..." Problem was: "Giffords never blocked a vote on the bill she's citing. She missed a vote that would have killed the legislation ..." (Arizona Daily Star, 8/9/06)
Candidate Bio: Randy Graf served in the state House from 2000-2004, when he resigned to run for the AZ-08 GOP nomination; during his time in the House, he served one term as Majority Whip. Voted Friend of the Taxpayer four years in a row, Graf also received awards from the Arizona Family Project, Arizona Association of Industries, and the Association of Arizona Building Officials. The NRA gave Graf an A+ rating.
Congressman Trent Franks has endorsed Graf's bid to succeed Rep. Kolbe, as have the National Right to Life Committee and the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.
A nice example of shameless spin.
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