The Conventional Wisdom is that Janet Napolitano will easily win re-election in November. Of course conventional wisdom is not always right. Just ask Jim Nintzel of the Tucson Weekly about his prediction on the John C. Scott show that Toni Hellon would keep her State Senate seat.
I could speculate about the Arizona Governor’s race in 2006 but let’s look at some measurable numbers instead. The last election for Governor was in 2002. We do not have registration numbers from the ’06 general election but we do have them for the primaries in ’02, ’04, and ’06. From each year we have a snapshot of the electorate at about the same time.
Here are the numbers.
2002 primary: 798,375 Dem; 930,125 Rep. Republican edge 131,750
2004 primary: 856,075 Dem; 976,280 Rep. Republican edge 120,205
2006 primary: 847,490 Dem; 1,003,977 Rep. Republican edge 156,487
So what do the numbers tell us? The Republicans have 24,737 more registered voters in 2006 than in 2004. Why is that significant? Because Janet only won in 2004 by 11,819 votes.
But the primary was nasty and the party is divided. Not quite. Don and Len were both struggling to differentiate themselves because they were so close on the issues. They both ran on conservative platforms and while they did split the vote they did not split the party.
What split the party was the 2002 GOP primary when Matt Salmon, Betsey Bayless, and Carol Springer went at it. I do not personally remember the primary but I do know that Bayless was from the abortion wing of the GOP and Springer was also from what I have read. So that year 44% of the primary voters were going for an abortion candidate. Fast-forward to 2006 and 90% of primary voters went for a pro-life candidate.
When you look at 2002 you see that Bayless did not win one single county. She came close in Pima but trailed Salmon statewide. In 2006 Goldwater won 7 counties but Munsil won the rest and won overall.
I am going to speculate at this point although I think I am on pretty solid ground. Goldwater won in certain locations mostly on the border issue. I think Don also appealed more to rural voters. To address this Len should address the border issue and contrast his approach with Napolitano. Munsil is already doing that so it is a matter of message and delivery.
I do not know how Len connects more with the rural voter but if he can improve in that area and articulate a strong border security message then he should pick up most if not all of Don’s voters. Goldwater is also being a team player and quickly and clearly backed Len. (Don, the party thanks you.)
The one social moderate in the 2006 primary was Gary Tupper and he pulled in 3.7%. Come election day Len may need those voters but it is a much easier mark than the 44% of social moderates that did not vote for Salmon in 2002.
Two of the counties in which Len lost, Pima and Cochise, have a Republican congressional candidate with a reputation for being strong on border security. Whether Len teams up with him for some border county campaigning remains to be seen. Same for CD 7 with Pima and Yuma counties.
So, a less divided party, a registration edge greater then the opponents margin of victory last time, a strong issue on which to run, and good allies in the congressional races. Sounds like a win for Janet to me, according to conventional wisdom.
I have not addressed the issue of independents. I know they are out there I just don’t know what they stand for or care about.
Saturday 9-16-06, 12:25 am