Michael Silence on the race for the 1st Congressional District seat:
Four seasoned political observers who blog, Randy Neal, Joe Powell, Joe Lance and A.C. Kleinheider, kick around whether a Democrat can take that seat. I’ll offer my snap analysis: When pigs fly.
(Head over to No Silence Here for the links.)
Of course, I’m no seasoned political observer. I’m unseasoned… or seasoned in the wrong areas… or perhaps I’m not seasoned at all – petulantly pickled might be better description, but for what it’s worth, I agree with Michael. Don’t get me wrong. I do think the area is changing, but it’s changing at about the same rate as the climate. Therefore, I don’t expect see any significant breaks in district voting patterns – at least not over the next five years or so.
Two reasons: (1) the Republicans have all the money and (2) political party is a family tradition.
I know it sounds crazy but it’s true. People in this district pass down their “Conservative Republicanism” like its heirloom silver. Some, who have inherited the party, embrace the values with which they grew up. Others have no clue what the Republican party stood for, how it’s changed or what it means nowadays – but they cling to it nonetheless. It belongs to them as much as their family name or their Grandpappy’s pocketwatch. For the most part admitting to this crowd, you prefer a Democratic candidate is akin to wearing a Mexican Flag shirt and singing “Big Ole Butt” to the preacher’s wife at the Baptist Homecoming.
It’s not gonna make you popular.
These are your straight ticket voters. They might cast a vote for a Democrat seeking a local office, but as far back as I can remember, there have been only two notable exceptions to Hawkins County’s down-the-line for state and federal office rule — Ken Givens, because we love him, and Ned McWherter, because Jimmy Quillen said so.
Next, there are the Republicans-for-Appearance. These folks inherited the party as well, but they stay for status and position. It’s a commonly held belief in the 1st that everyone who’s anyone is Republican: so if you want access, an ear, support, power, title, money or things done — you must be Republican too. To some extent, this is true BUT the problem is should the Democrats ever get a foothold, you’ll see a good portion of these folks flip sides in a New York minute.
Then, you have the largest bloc of district voters – I call them the weather-watchers. They don’t know the candidates or the issues. If they do seek information, they aren’t picky about the source. They never read between the lines, look for motives or follow-ups. These voters are not unintelligent: they’re just busy. They have jobs, children, bills and work to do. They catch the weather, read the headlines — and tend to vote for who they know. If they don’t know anyone: they’ll vote Republican by default. These voters are extremely susceptible to smear campaigns – and this is where the money comes in. If you can afford a high profile campaign, goodies, wave and kiss the babies, swing a radio spot, TV commercial or newspaper ad – and you can claim your opponent was born with an extra toe and monkey tail – they’ll fall right into the hip pocket without knowing they’ve been purchased or played.
Finally, you have the x voters. They’re disillusioned. They’re unhappy. They’re sick of the partisanship, the constant over-analyzing, the media. They find both parties equally repugnant – but have been most recently embarrassed by the actions of the TN GOP. In fact, some may even think to themselves if Bill Hobbs sticks his foot it in one more time, just one more, they’re gonna go a viral kinda blue.
(I mean – I’m just guessing this is how they think.)
So yeah, I think with some strong recruiting in this district — and providing all the Republicans die, go broke or continue to make asses of themselves on a regular basis– a Democrat could win over the next two decades. Of course, the victory would be short lived since the locals would spit, sputter, blame the entire mess on the “Yankee Transplants” coming down here messing things up… reorganize and take it back during the next cycle.