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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Re: Gregoire Tops Rossi

posted by on September 24 at 12:54 PM

Don’t believe it.

First of all, the SurveyUSA poll identified Rossi as “Republican Dino Rossi.” As the recent Elway poll confirmed, describing Rossi as “Dino Rossi, who prefers the GOP Party” gives Rossi a three-point boost—a boost that would put him above Gregoire in the SurveyUSA poll, though still within the margin of error. That’s why the Washington State Democrats are suing to force Rossi to correctly identify himself as a Republican—because the label “GOP Party” confuses so-called low-information voters. In June, another Elway poll revealed that fully 25 percent of likely voters didn’t know that “GOP” meant Republican, and seven percent thought it referred to the Democratic Party. A court hearing in that case is scheduled for 9:00 Friday morning, in King County Superior Court Judge Richard Eadie’s courtroom.

Republicans, far more than Democrats, are capitalizing on this confusion. According to the state Democratic Party, 31 candidates on state general election ballots have identified as something other than a Democrat or a Republican. Of those, 27 are claiming to belong to the “GOP Party,” the “Grand Old Party,” or the “R Party”; just one Democrat has identified as a member of the “Progressive Dem Party.” (A Green, an Independent, and a Libertarian round out the roster.)

Perhaps more importantly, Rossi is proving himself to be a far more robust, compelling candidate than Gregoire this time around. Much as she did four years ago, Gregoire is running a lackluster, defensive campaign—painting Rossi as a right-wing monster, pitting him against crying moms, and associating him with George W. Bush. Meanwhile, Rossi comes across as calm, soothing, and folksy—the antithesis of Gregoire’s agitated, alarmist, out-of-touch-with-regular-folks persona.

At the gubernatorial debate last Saturday, for example, Gregoire smiled condescendingly and stuck to her speaking points in her answers to nearly every question. Rossi, in contrast, used folksy anecdotes about his daughter’s allowance (“little Jillian”) and his “small-business background” (“I started out with $200 in the bank and a $200 car and nowhere to go but up”) to avoid answering questions—a dodgy tactic that might not have worked so well had Rossi not seemed so world-weary, honest, and direct. Never mind that he frequently was lying—about Gregoire planning to raise voters’ taxes; about the size of the state’s budget deficit; about his position on stem-cell research. Rossi sounded like he was telling the truth. In the 30-second-sound-bite format of a televised debate, the appearance of honesty matters more than honesty itself.

And Gregoire, in contrast, sounded nervous and canned. Even when she was talking up her blue-collar roots—”When you grow up with a short-order cook and you’re making ends meet, you know how important a job is“—Gregoire sounded stiff, defensive, and out of touch. (Note to Gregoire’s campaign consultants: Please coach her in the proper use of the word “literally.” our nation is not “literally on its knees.”) She also repeated herself too often and too angrily, throwing around phrases like “green-collar jobs,” “I just don’t believe that’s the values of the people of the state of Washington,” and “the failed policies of the George W. Bush administration” like talismans to ward off Rossi’s slick, smooth-talking charm. Instead of going on the attack, Gregoire stayed on the defensive, passing up opportunities to take specific stands on issues like the viaduct (“we’re saying, what do we do, literally, from I-5 to the waterfront”), taxes (“absolutely nobody is talking about taxes in the state of Washington except my opponent”), spending priorities (“It’s called priorities of government budget setting”), and economic development (“there’s a lot of good work being done there.”)

Seattle may have a lot of Gregoire signs—I saw a half-dozen on my way to work this morning—but in Eastern Washington, north of Everett, and Pierce County, Rossi’s support is strong. If Gregoire wants to hold on to her job, she’s going to have to do a lot more than snipe that Rossi’s distorting her record—she’s going to have to make the case that her record makes her worth keeping.

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Rossi's official signs saying "Don't Let Seattle Steal Another Election" - posted all along I-5 between Olympia and Vancouver - should put a dent in that "calm, soothing, and folksy" persona. In a just world, anyway.

Posted by cdc | September 24, 2008 1:10 PM

Maybe I'm not to sure what the GOP Party [sic] is, but if Valentino Rossi can ride a 240 horsepower motorcycle to victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and date the likes of Mandala Tyde and Elisabetta Canalis, maybe he's man enough to whip Washington's government into shape.

Posted by elenchos | September 24, 2008 1:15 PM

Gregoire literally deserves to lose. She is horrid on the campaign trail. And like Gary Locke and Mike Lowry before her, she is defensive rather than presenting a compelling case for progressive policies. No wonder people prefer Dino Rossi. God help us all.

Posted by wow | September 24, 2008 1:24 PM

@3, I tend to agree. And honestly, loosing would be actually good for the Democrats in this state. Being knocked off their pedestal will force the party to actually start to pay attention to the ENTIRE state and not just Seattle.

The only thing is that Rossi is such a fucking prick. But if he wins, it is Gregoire's fault. She has been lackluster as a govenor at best. And Locke and Lowry were more exciting.

Posted by Andrew | September 24, 2008 1:39 PM

She really is an awful campaigner, as she was the first time around. How the hell did she win the flippin' 2004 primary, anyway? She sure as shit didn't have my vote. Maybe we're better rid of her for a term and coming up with an actual winner next time around. Not that I don't hope she gets elected, but if she loses that's what I'll tell myself.

Posted by Levislade | September 24, 2008 1:39 PM

One more item and then I will shut up on slog for good. If you won by only a few votes in an election wouldn't you go out of your way to make yourself into an effective leader? Wouldn't you want to spearhead ideas that would make both sides of the state swoon for you?

What the FUCK has she been doing for 4 years?!?!?! At least Locke chased bats out of the mansion!!!!

Posted by Andrew | September 24, 2008 1:43 PM

Dino Rossi prefers the GOP Party, meaning he prefers the Grand Old Party Party. It's so stupid it's funny. There should be a little Homer Simpson logo between "Party" and "Party."

Posted by wow | September 24, 2008 2:26 PM

Gergoire's going to lose. And it's not an "Eastern Washington rubes" vs "Seattle sophisticates" thing. It's a "Not doing jack shit to campaign effectively against the opponent whom you barely beat the first time around" thing.

Posted by laterite | September 24, 2008 2:53 PM

I'm never been a big Gregoire fan. But I watched the debate last Saturday and thought she was spectacularly good--knowledgeable, clear, articulate, well-mannered, hard-hitting but fair, in complete command on each question. By contrast, Rossi was spectacularly bad: stage-managed, dumb, ill-informed, unresponsive, petulant, unpleasant and tricky, like a rookie high school debater. All of his answers seemed canned. He did not once address Gregoire by name or to her face. He stared at the camera and referred repeatedly to the "Incumbent," as though he was alone in the room. "World-weary" is indeed the right word for his persona in this debate. I don't get it at all. I saw him smile once, a thin quick one when the debate was over. Otherwise he was completely unappealing and dour, and I don't see how farming for a living would have changed my perceptions. He may win yet, and Gregoire may indeed be a lackluster candidate overall, but I'd like to meet anyone who switched from Gregoire to Rossi as a result of that debate. On second thought, Erica, would you meet that person for me?

Posted by fixo | September 24, 2008 3:11 PM

Greedy Old People

Posted by tiddlywinks | September 24, 2008 3:30 PM

In June, another Elway poll revealed that fully 25 percent of likely voters didn’t know that “GOP” meant Republican, and seven percent thought it referred to the Democratic Party.

Dear Lord, are people really that stupid?

Posted by Greg | September 24, 2008 3:44 PM

I don't understand why the Washington State Dem. Commitee isn't all over this with 10 second ads on radio and TV: "Dino Rossi is a Republican and he's trying to hide it. What are you ashamed of Dino? Why are you trying to fool people by using the term GOP? Is that honest?"

They really need to get their shit together.

Posted by inkweary | September 24, 2008 4:07 PM

At #1 -- those signs aren't official Rossi signs, those are from BIAW.

Maybe Seattlites are upset by that idea, but it is felt strongly by many people around the State that the last election wasn't as clean as it should have been.

Posted by Hovno | September 24, 2008 9:56 PM

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