March 08, 2006

Post-primary thoughts on DeLay vs. Lampson

1. It seems that people's views of whether 62% is good or bad for DeLay are mostly determined by their knee-jerk partisan reaction.

2. At the beginning of this blog, I said that, "Tom DeLay won't lose this primary unless local activists and party leaders start abandoning him." I was right. My immediate pre-election prediction was DeLay 55%, Campbell 30%, Baig 10%, and Fjetland 5%. I was way off on Baig (who got less than 3.5%) and there's no excuse for that. Otherwise, I think it was a reasonable prediction.

3. 62% is actually pretty good for DeLay. 20% of the GOP primary would probably vote for anybody-but-DeLay (that is, 20% voted for Fjetland in 2002). That 20% is presumably turned off by DeLay's style: blunt, no-compromises conservatism.

To only lose an addition 18% when under indictment is pretty good. While I was always skeptical of the idea that DeLay would lose this primary, I assumed that DeLay was looking at 50% of the vote at minimum and 60% of the vote at maximum. So I would view 62% as fairly impressive.

4. While 62% is pretty decent, I don't think much has changed from any of my previous analyses of DeLay vs. Lampson: it depends on legal issues. Presumably the Ronnie Earle/TRMPAC indictment will be cleared up by then. If it's a guilty verdict, it's hard to see DeLay winning re-election. If it's not guilty, then I think DeLay will win.

There's also the Abramoff matter. Most people would view a Department of Justice indictment in a different manner than Ronnie Earle's indictment. Abramoff clearly has incentive to implicate officeholders, whether true or not. Folks in DC are buzzing, but there hasn't been any indictments of anyone yet. Conventional wisdom would be that a certain Congressman in Ohio will definitely be the first to be indicted, if anyone is.

I would assume that the timeline for a Department of Justice indictment would have to come in the next few months. Once you start getting towards election time, prosecutors usually become wary of issuing indictments out of fear that it will look political.

My sense is that Abramoff hasn't hit home in the district as an issue. If there's an indictment, it will. If there isn't an indictment, it won't be a factor that tips the race. It'll be good for a few attack ads from left-wing third party groups, but that's about it.

5. I don't see why CQ changed their prediction from "Leans Republican" to "No Clear Favorite" based on the primary results. If I were using CQ's rankings system, I would have ranked this race as "Leans Republican" and it would still be ranked "Leans Republican."

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