Election Analysis

I believe that it was Tip O’Neil who said that all politics is local. Newt Gingrich and the Republicans blew that idea out of the water in 1994 by winning the U.S. House of Representatives– for the first time in over forty years – on national issues. Did the Pima County Democrats go to the next level in last week’s election? In other words, did they make the local election national?

I believe a case can be made for the affirmative. Look, the Democrats didn’t just win, they slammed them. Trasoff won with 65 percent, while Uhlich won with 61 per cent. That’s a landslide in anyone’s book. Yours truly predicted a Democrat win based on the registration advantage, and their get-out-the-vote efforts – but that’s all they had. They had no real issues; in fact, all the candidates were generally in agreement on most things. There was talk about the garbage fee, but Uhlich avoided the topic and Trasoff was all over the map. Their bottom line complaint was that it was too inconvenient for poor people to secure their exemption. There was some complaining about KIDCO, the City funded after school sitting service. The bottom line complaint there was that affluent people had to pay a token fee. Neither these, nor any other specific issue in the campaign, were enough in themselves to bring the members of the “Evil Party” out of the woodwork on Election Day.

I agree that Dunbar handed the Democrats a useful tool by defending herself with the lawsuit, but it must also be remembered that there was little difference in the losing margins of Dunbar and Ronstadt, which suggests that Dunbar’s suit did not hurt her that much.

Both Dunbar and Ronstadt had the advantage of incumbency, and two stellar records.

Most of the Democrat candidates’ time was spent expressing fear over unseen dark forces plotting to steal from the mouths of women and children. Goofy, yes, but consistent with what the national mouthpieces have been saying. I recall Uhlich describing Dunbar’s suit as an attempt to intimidate -similar to what was going on at the national level…whatever that meant.

So with no significant issues, no big scandals, no Republican skeletons in or out of the closet (Jim Kolbe excepted), and strong Republican candidates, what was it that got the Democrats out to the polls? Irrational Democrat hatred of Republicans is my best guess – the national connection.

There was another national connection – the money. Locally, each candidate raised around eighty grand – both Democrats with involuntary tax money, both Republicans without involuntary tax money. The Democrats got another thirty grand from the State party. The Republicans got stiffed by their State party. The independent groups that favored the Democrats were supported by California union money, and the likes of moveon.org (I feel like washing my hands after typing that).

Fomenting fear and hatred is not a good long-term strategy, even though it’s working for the Democrats at all levels of government…for now.