Skip to comments.Jay Cost: Can the GOP Hold FL 16?
Posted on 10/09/2006 6:48:55 PM PDT by RWR8189
Over the weekend, a few articles were published that argued that the GOP stands a chance in FL 16. Do they? This is an interesting question, one worth taking a second to investigate.
First off, most proponents only argue for the possibility that Republican state representative Joe Negron, the man the state party selected to "accept" Foley votes, has a chance. Their objections seem to be against the argument that a Mahoney win is a foregone conclusion. So -- it is not as though they are giving Negron better than even odds. They are just asserting that the odds are non-zero.
The best argument to this effect is district partisanship. Bush carried FL 16 easily in both 2004 (by 8%) and 2000 (by 6%). Republicans outnumber Democrats by a wide margin in this South-Central district. However, even though it is an extremely powerful determinant, partisanship is not really an immediate determinant of congressional vote choice. Most people don't vote for a guy they dislike because he caucuses with the correct party. Partisanship seems to help form the context that helps create evaluations of the candidates on the ballot. Another background determinant, more powerful than district partisanship, is level of political information. Political information is one reason you often see Republicans voting for Democratic incumbents, and vice-versa. They simply do not know anything about the other person on the ballot -- and, for most voters, the choice is ultimately based upon evaluations of the two candidates.
In other words, candidate evaluation is the immediate cause of vote choice -- what the voter thinks of the two candidates is usually how he will vote. Personal partisanship is one factor that goes into the evaluation - people are inclined to evaluate positively those who share their party ID. But so also is information - people cannot fully evaluate those about whom they know nothing.
My feeling is that while district partisanship is indeed an asset for Negron, voter information is a huge and decisive liability. Negron is simply "asking too much" of voters in the district.
For voters in Florida's 16th Congressional District to cast a ballot for him, they are going to have to possess unique information to even begin to evaluate him as a candidate. Not only do they need to know things about him to develop sufficiently positive opinions of him, they also need to know that he is actually on the ballot. This forms a prerequisite for Negron's victory because -- in a Foley v. Mahoney match-up -- Mahoney wins in a walk. This is Negron's major problem, and I would estimate that it is a decisive one. There will be a lot of voters on Election Day who do not know of the situation, or at least know of it sufficiently well enough to be able to vote for "Foley." They will walk into the voting booth, perhaps knowing a little bit about Negron from advertisements or mailings, perhaps knowing enough to intend to vote for him, but will be surprised to see Foley's name on the ballot next to Mahoney's. As ultimately their choice boils down to which man they prefer more, they will vote for Mahoney.
Why is this the case? It is not because average voters are stupid, mind you. It is because they just do not know as much about politics as you do. Their store of political knowledge is much smaller. If you are reading this post, it probably means that you can be counted as a political elite - so defined by partisanship, issue salience, level of information, etc. You, therefore, are not like the average voter. Unfortunately, the pundit class usually fails to make the proper distinctions between the elite voter and the average voter - but the differences are very important. The latter know much less about politics than the former. As information is a prerequisite for vote choice, Negron has a huge disadvantage.
(Side note: for those who might be inclined to think I am being condescending, I assure you that I am not. The issue here is knowledge base, not intelligence. I think that the media/pundit class is actually condescending when it comes to the average voter. Compare our arguments about FL 16. Which is more condescending: to argue that voters will not know what a vote for "Foley" means; or to argue that they will know, but that they are so shallow and focused on symbolism that they cannot "hold their noses" long enough to vote for their political interests, and instead vote against those interests?)
For Negron, the way to overcome this is to get the message out. Theoretically, he could overcome it. The problem is a lack of political information - which could be supplied with a sufficient number of dollars spent on advertising run for a sufficient length of time. His task would be to make sure that his minimal winning voting coalition understands the situation - that half-plus-one of the partisan electorate (a) knows that a vote for "Foley" is a vote for Negron and (b) prefers Negron over Mahoney. At most, district partisanship inclines the electorate in FL 16 toward (b). It does not speak to (a), which is a necessary condition - and a hard one to meet.
So -- I would say that the answer to the title question is "No." Negron might have district partisanship aiding him, but a vote for him requires a level of information that is just too great for the average voter to acquire just 4 weeks before Election Day.
I think Republican voters are intelligent and will educate themselves about their Congressional vote.
I disagree with Jay.
"Most people don't vote for a guy they dislike because he caucuses with the correct party. "
And all people don't vote for a guy they dislike who also caucuses with the wrong party.
Sure they can if the RNC is not afraid to offend Howard Dean with ads that expose the democrats
What kind of idiot is this guy? First of all, the entire nation is being bombarded by this story 24 hours a day. More people know Foley's name than the name of their own congressman. Does he really think the voters in Foley's own district aren't following the story including who is replacing him on the ballot? And second, I would guess that a majority of voters vote for the man on the ballot with the (R) or (D) after their name rather than for the man whose character and values they've carefully assessed. On one hand this guy grossly underestimates the awareness of the average voter, and then with the other he turns right around and grossly overestimates their interest in the personal in depth philosophies of the man they are voting for.
So why should I trust polls run by the same junk media that lied to us about everything from calling Florida for Gore in 2000 when the Republican heavy pan handle polls were still open to what is going on in Iraq today?
It is about turn out people. It is who shows up and voted. EVERY Oct we go thru the Leftist noise machine attempt to call the election weeks BEFORE it is over.
Funny thing, it is always the Republicans that are in trouble every Oct of an election year, never the Democrats.
Jay Cost is the only election analyst I actually pay any attention to at all.
Which is a great point. When was the last election in which the media predicted doom for the democrats?
Maybe the republicans in FL can petition the New Jersey Supreme Court to have Foley replaced on the ballot before election day.
This is my district. It has been all over the news, and the front page every day. Voters here know Foley is off the ballot. However, they don't know anything about the guy that replaced him.
I would like to see some ads. That would make a big difference.
|There will be a lot of voters on Election Day who do not know of the situation, or at least know of it sufficiently well enough to be able to vote for "Foley." They will walk into the voting booth, perhaps knowing a little bit about Negron from advertisements or mailings, perhaps knowing enough to intend to vote for him, but will be surprised to see Foley's name on the ballot next to Mahoney's.
I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but it seems to me that if these people are not sufficiently well informed to know of the situation that a vote for Foley is a vote for Negron, then they surely are not aware of the Foley fiasco either.
would you guys care to chime in on this thread? Maybe even contact the analyst at Real Clear Politics and "educate" them about the difference between remote theoretical punditry vs. analysis based on local knowledge?
Your short post on FreeRepublic is worth volumes more than Jay Cost's "expert analysis". Thanks.
So you're saying that Foley's name is still on the ballot?
I thought the Fl. Election board just ruled that the precincts should post signs everywhere saying that in order to vote for Negron, vote for Foley. That should clear up the confusion, shouldn't it?
Jay is twisting himself into knots to deny eltisism. If you have to work so hard to deny the obvious charge, it's worth considering there is some truth in the accussation.
This is yet another opinion piece from RCP that argues for the Dems. Was the merger with the MSM worth it Jay? Beyond financial side benefits of course. I used to enjoy the site. Now, not so much.
Let me tell you what I find condecending. I find the fact anyone would think one district becoming the focus of the nation and even world, would translate into as you put it a lack of a "knowledge base". Their Congressman is all over the late night comedy shows, national papers, talk shows, and yet voters are blissfully unaware a new candidate exists? Give me a break.
Simple solution: vote a straight R ticket.
The Dems want to make this an us-vs-them election.
Give it to them.
Vote for victory. Vote for security. Vote Republican.
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