Everyone – and I mean, EVERYONE – seems to be completely blowing off Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s candidacy and thinks her chances of winning a 2016 Senate race are about the same as mine.
At the risk of condemning myself to outlier status for eternity, I will make the case for her. (I can hear it now, “Yeah, do you remember that Schorsch guy? … He thought Wasserman-Watsername could actually win!”)
First, she can raise real money. She has a strong base in South Florida and a national network that rivals anyone – even Patrick Murphy.
Second, even though she hasn’t been on the ballot in a seriously contested election in, like, forever, she knows how to fight, to organize and how to campaign. She has been in non-stop campaign mode (I imagine) since she was a child. And did I mention she has friends in high places?
So, can she make it out of the primary?
That will depend on what the primary looks like and who else appears on the ticket. The question will be where they are from and what demographic box they can check. Put a lot of men from I-4 (or anywhere for that matter) on the ballot, and if she is the lone woman, she waltzes right in. If it’s just her versus Murphy and another woman, she will have a much harder shot. But with serious cash (I mentioned that, right?) and high name recognition (Yes, Virginia, frequent Democratic voters watch cable news and know who she is) she begins the race – regardless of what the ticket looks like – at or near the front of the pack.
So where do most Democratic voters live? Even a first year poli-sci student knows the answer to that. They live in her media market. They have seen her on TV since before they were on Medicare. They know her and my guess is, they like her.
OK, so let’s get her out of the primary … she’s dead, right?
The walk-around understanding is that she can’t win I-4 or North Florida and she will lose among NPA voters. That’s the conventional wisdom anyway. (BTW, Wikipedia defines “conventional wisdom” as “the general thinking of those who are usually wrong.”*) We know this column has already dug a deep trench, so let me keep digging.
Why did Charlie lose? Why did Alex Sink lose?
They lost for several reasons; but let’s remember that they both ran in GOP wave years and that just doesn’t seem to happen in modern presidential elections. Further, two of the key reasons they lost was that a) there were far more Republicans voting in those off-year ballots than Democrats and b) turnout in the SoFla counties was among the lowest in the state.
But this will be a presidential year, so add at least four points of Democratic voters to the mix. And secondly, neither Charlie nor Alex was from South Florida, didn’t really speak the language and, in the end, didn’t really inspire that critical base. So let’s assume DWS loses the NPA vote by 10 points. But, conversely, push up turnout in South Florida, excite that base, and put a woman at the very tippy-top of the ticket (Hellooooo Hillary) and we have a close race.
Now, move DWS to the center a bit and maybe offend a constituency that will vote for her in the end anyway.
How can we do that? How about she starts a family feud with some of the lefties who support legalizing marijuana? Play the, “Hey, I’m a mom” card and the, “I’m not going to pander to the left” card.
It just might work.
Go ahead, tell me how nuts I am.
*In case you went to Wikipedia, you may have noticed it doesn’t actually say that.