Friday, April 07, 2006

McKinney to lose this year's election?

I chuckled at the thought, too...until I read the rationale from Matt Towery:
Most media have missed the most important aspect of Rep. Cynthia McKinney's alleged assault on a Capitol policeman.

However this plays out legally, and whatever McKinney, D-Ga., may have belatedly offered by way of an apology, she will probably lose her re-election bid this November.

"What?" I can hear the incredulous cry from Washington's expert observers. (Though I'm not one of those "expert observers", count me among those who cry incredulously "What?" - Ed.)

That's insane," they're saying. "She has a heavily weighted African-American district that votes overwhelmingly Democratic!"

True, but let's not forget that she also lost a re-election race in 2002 for similar -- but ultimately less serious -- reasons.

Back then, InsiderAdvantage released a poll that suggested McKinney would lose to a little-known local judge by the name of Denise Majette.

The poll, which came out well before that Democratic primary contest, was doubted by the most seasoned of national and state political experts. But it was correct.

Here's what happened in 2002, and how something like a refrain of that story will probably play out again this year.

In 2002, McKinney made post-9/11 comments that irritated many otherwise liberal Democrats in her district, black and white. She said more or less that President George W. Bush had known the terrorist attacks would happen before they did.

Her ties to the Islamic community, including significant campaign donations from Islamic business leaders, only heightened concerns about her.

It helped Majette in her upset bid that she was an appealing candidate, and African American herself. It was easier for her than it would have been for many others to peel away a certain fragment of the congressional district's black voters from McKinney.

Critically, our early poll indicated a coming crossover vote: Independents and even some Republicans who lived in the northernmost (read: whitest) sections of the district had decided to forego voting in the GOP primary for governor and instead vote in the Democratic primary. Their motive was to defeat Cynthia McKinney, and they did. (Georgia has an open primary, where McKinney lost in 2002. Her opponent, after defeating her and serving only one term, abandoned the seat to run for the U.S. Senate and lost, which paved the way for McKinney to come back. - Ed.)
Make no mistake, McKinney will be up against the same election dynamics when the Georgia Democratic primary is held this summer. It's likely -- though not yet official -- that another appealing black candidate, a county commissioner from the heart of the district, is set to oppose her.

Independent and Republican voters in this district will have few temptations to "stay home" and vote in the GOP primary.
It may well be that some women voters who abandoned McKinney in 2002 will stick with her against a man.

On the other hand, what might make this a more stinging defeat than last time? The fact that her presumptive opponent, DeKalb County Commissioner Hank Johnson, has a set constituency, and that the independent and Republican voters who crossed over to defeat McKinney in 2002 are fired up again.
The only chance to beat McKinney, as in 2002, is within the Democratic primary. The gerrymandered district will never elect a Republican, so a less embarrassing Dem has to run against her in the primary if she is to be discarded like a Clinton mistress.