Murkowski/Miller and Rove/O'Donnell: A Case Study of the Problem

Lisa Murkowski has gone and done it now.  Yesterday on CNN’s “State of the Nation,” the Senator said:

But what happened in my particular race, you had the Tea Party Express, this California-based group, come in at the last minute in a campaign, run a mudslinging, smear — just a terrible, terrible campaign, with lies and fabrications and mischaracterization. They came in, they dumped $600,000 into a small market here in Alaska, and they absolutely clearly influenced the outcome of that election.

Yet the day before, Murkowski held a conference call with the most powerful of Washington Lobbyists, no doubt seeking far more than $600,000 from them for her write-in campaign.  Just one more expression of the talk and the walk of so-called “moderate Republicans” not matching up.

I am neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but mark my works:  Murkowski will lose this write-in effort.  Before announcing her born-again candidacy, polling showed Miller ahead of Democratic nominee McAdam’s by 6-8 points.  As of now, I haven’t seen polling for the new three-way race, but I imagine it is going to be pretty tight.  At first.

But Murkowski is setting herself up to be Crist 2.0.  In order to win, she’s going to have to pursuade Republicans who did not support her in the primary AND moderate democrats.  But as she moves to the left in an effort to accomplish the latter, she will find herself unable to do the former.  She’ll end up being a galvanizing force for Tea Party-minded voters (a group that far outnumbers those who actually participate in the Tea Parties) and splitting the rest of the electorate.  Assuming Miller has the resources to stay fully engaged in his campaign (donate here!) he could end up winning with a far smaller percentage than he’d need if he were just facing McAdams.

So why is Murkowski doing this?  Because she thinks she can.  Just like Spector, just like Crist.  Murkowski is among The Establishment – those who know better than the rest of us.  She can’t image someone like Joe Miller ousting her.  “Something MUST be done to stop this!” she tells herself.

We who study psychology call this denial.

Which brings me to Christine O’Donnell.  We all heard the ranting of The Experts on the news shows:  “How could *that woman* defeat the likes of Mike Castle?  How could the voters of Delaware demonstrate such myopic behavior?”  When O’Donnell won her primary last week, I knew very little about her.  But I have a feeling that she might just pull this thing off with the HELP of The Establishment’s opposition.

I’ve always liked Karl Rove, so a part of me hates even saying this, but…  O’Donnell’s campaign needs to use Rove’s ranting against her in campaign commercials.  He’s talking like The Establishment, and a HUGE part of what is motivating Tea Partiers and those who are following them to the polls is this “Leave-It-To-The-Professionals-Because-We-Know-Best” mentality coming from the party’s entrenched “experts.”  Blame Sara Palin all you want, Rove.  Blame Jim DeMint all you want, Rollins.  In the end, you’re ticking off the PEOPLE who voted by implying they are mindlessly lead to the polls by charismatic headliners.

The problem, as I see it, is that people are sick and tired of being treated like simple-minded drones who vote as they are told.  What we’ve learned is that people want real choices come election day.  Murkowski and Rove alike are demonstrating their frustration that voters might reject their plans, as well as their unwillingness to accept that reality once it has happened.  Aren’t they The Experts?  Don’t they hold positions among The Establishment?

Voters are ready for authentic representation in D.C., something Murkowski and Rove reject via their rejection of the AK and DE primary results.  Miller needs to run against The Establishment Murkowski.  O’Donnell needs to run against The Expert Rove.  This will stoke the fire in the voters’ bellies, and they might just win.