Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Mannix TV ad

The new TV ad by Mannix is a very interesting development in the governor race.

It shows Mannix is behind, for starters. Up until now, Mannix has more or less run a "Rose Garden" campaign, seeming to think he could run the general election campaign in the primary because he thought he was ahead.

It was apparent to me after Dorchester that Saxton had all the momentum, and Mannix had to take his primary opponents seriously. Atkinson was clearly taking a chunk out of Mannix's hide, and Saxton was clearly surging.

Now that Mannix has gone openly on the attack (we of course know that the phony "independent" campaign by Clapper, paid for by Loren Parks, was hardly independent) we can assume that he knows he is behind.

Will this ad turn things around? Hard to say. Last time, Mannix was behind at about this stage and won in a three way race by a late campaign questioning Saxton's conservative bonafides.

But things are different this time around. First, Saxton has far more clearly defined himself in this race. Conservatives identify with him strongly, the polling shows. It won't be so easy to get Republicans to abandon him.

Second, the three way dynamic is a lot different this time. Mannix has Atkinson bleeding some of his pro-life support. Last time Mannix was the only pro-life candidate.

Finally, a lot of Republican voters are tired of Kevin Mannix, and more tired still of losing in the general election. Saxton is overwhelmingly considered to be the most electible candidate of the three.

These factors suggest that the Mannix hit pieces, while they may take a chunk out of Ron's hide, won't be enough to completely erode his lead.

Ironically, there is an upside for Saxton here. Bloody primary fights usually leave the winning candidate wounded headed into the general election. Their money is drained, and their negatives are high within their own party after the brusing primary fight.

But these attacks on Saxton, because they try to portray him as a Portland liberal, could actually HELP him in the general election by moving him to the center in the minds of voters. The usual route to victory for a Republican in a statewide race is to run to the right in the primary, then to the middle in the general. It is hard to pull off, because voters will accept only so much nuance.

But these ads help Ron to do just that, without him appearing as some craven politician. Maybe Ron should report the Mannix ad buy on his C & E reports as an in-kind contribution!

1 comment:

Mike O. said...

I thought Atkinson was catching on. Apparently not.

Republicans are really not enamored of Mannix, that you can tell from this poll.