Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Trouble with Katherine Harris

Over at The Plank, Michael Crowley describes what he calls "the GOP's Katherine Harris Problem":

She's so divisive and unpopular that she almost certainly can't win a general election in Florida. But hard-core Republican activists are still so grateful for her role in the 2000 recount that she's nearly impossible to beat in a primary.

But the Rasmussen poll Crowley cites as evidence of her inability to defeat Bill Nelson in the general gives the lie to his claim about the primary. Harris, who trails Nelson 57-27, garners the support of a mere 45 percent of Republicans; 33 percent of them would vote for Nelson. Strategic Vision polled Republicans on a few different scenarious

Tommy Franks, 38%
Katherine Harris, 34%

Katherine Harris, 36%
Tom Gallagher, 34%

Katherine Harris, 35%
Mark Foley, 19%

Maybe Harris's persistent 34-35 percent indicates those "hard-core Republican activists" who refuse to abandon her because of 2000, but these are hardly the numbers of someone unbeatable in a primary. Quite the opposite: her numbers are exceedingly weak for a candidate with such allegedly strong support among party activists. Too, the Florida GOP, including Jeb Bush, opposes her, as does the national apparatus, and that matters. Just look at the Specter-Toomey primary in 2004, where the support of the state and national party (particularly that of Bush and Santorum) swung the election to Specter.

Moreover, Republican primary voters aren't fools; they often take electability into account when voting (again, witness the Specter-Toomey race). That same Strategic Vision poll mirrors Rasmussen: Nelson leads Harris 56-24. But Nelson and Franks are tied at 45-45; Nelson leads Gallagher 47-45; and Nelson leads Foley 48-39. Those numbers might persuade even some of that hard core.

The GOP does have a Katherine Harris problem, but it's that she refuses to step aside and that the electable candidates have chosen not to run. It's a moot point, anyway: after tomorrow, Harris will be the Republican candidate, like it or not, win or lose.


Post a Comment

<< Home