Thursday, November 13, 2008

Strange Conclusions From The Election

By Marc Korman.

Since Tuesday’s election, pundits and politicians have drawn some strange conclusions from the results.

1. Franchot Lost, O’Malley Won
A front page article in the Gazette of Business and Politics says that the anti-slots Comptroller “might have to reconsider” any plans he had to challenge O’Malley in the Gubernatorial primary in two years because slots passed successfully. Like the rest of us, Franchot has probably known for months that slots was going to pass based on public polling. So I doubt the election results did much to change his current thinking on running for Governor.

If Franchot is seriously considering a primary challenge, how the ballot question did statewide, in Montgomery County, or even among Democrats is irrelevant. What matters is how the ballot question did among Democrats who vote in the gubernatorial primary. In 2006, 524,671 Democrats voted in the Gubernatorial primary. O’Malley ran unopposed, so a competitive primary could have a higher turnout. But it is those voters that matter, not the millions who showed up last Tuesday. Thanks to his slots opposition, Franchot has gotten a lot of attention from these base Democratic voters that could serve him well if he is serious about challenging O’Malley.

2. This is a Center Right Nation
Newsweek was actually making this argument even before the election. The thought was echoed by House Minority Leader John Boehner in a letter to his colleagues begging to keep his leadership post. In the case of Boehner and other Republicans, I imagine they are just trying to comfort themselves with this thought.

If I had to try and characterize the country, I would characterize it as center with left and right leanings depending on the time and the issue. Polling has generally shown a majority favors abortion (left), a majority favors prayer in public schools (right), a majority opposes the war in Iraq (left), and a majority favored going to war with Iraq four years ago (right). A better characterization might be that we are a schizophrenic nation, but I will stick with the characterization that we are a center nation with leanings one way or the other depending on the issue.

3. Montgomery County Has Experienced A Tax Revolt
Adam Pagnucco made this argument right here at MPW. He has good company at the Washington Post editorial board. I am confident that Montgomery County residents, like just about everyone, do not enjoy taxes. But we did not have a tax revolt, we had a political failure. Opposition to the Ficker Amendment was late in forming and few people, even opponents, understood the amendment. There was almost no effort to communicate with and educate the public on the issue. Had there been even a modest effort against the amendment, Ficker would have failed as in previous years.

That does not mean legislators should feel free to act irresponsibly with our tax dollars. But it does mean that in two years I predict the charter will be amended again to undue the Ficker law. Placing the first bet on the 2010 election, I say the “Repeal Ficker Act” will pass 55% to 45%. It will not be easy, but the unions, the politicians, and the activists will all work together to make it happen.