Thursday, September 21, 2006

DCCC versus Randy Graf

The headlines read "Only 25% Approve of Congress." Yet most voters are afraid to let go of their current representative. 53% say they like their congressman. Even when their congressman votes mostly with the other party, the fear of the "other side" candidate keeps them hanging on to what they can count on. Not that I put too much stock in a poll that is so long that it only attracts the disgruntled who have an axe to grind. But let's face it, nobody looks at today's congressmen and talks about what a great job they're doing.

What does this mean in a race with no incumbent? Well, we know that the outgoing incumbent's endorsement made little, if any, impact on the primary other than his ability to partner with big money to try and buy the election. If the endorsement, of itself, had no positive impact, than it suggests that either this district was not satisfied with its particular congressman, or that voters' overall dissatisfaction with congress was so great as to overshadow any positives from the departing official.

In either case, it suggests voters are demanding a change.

If the candidates stay on task and debate the issues directly, Randy holds the edge because the most salient issue to voters where substantial change is demanded is the border where Giffords record is weak and Graf owns the issue as the Border Hawk. This issue alone has the power to unite Republicans, Independents, Libertarians and even some Democrats.

The Democrat party knows this, so the DCCC is trying to create so much noise, or distraction, that the real issues become obscured and indistinguishable with the intent that voters will end up voting on likability or dis-likability instead of on issues. That this IS the strategy of the DCCC is evident by the Huffman-like slander TV ads right out of the gate followed by Jeff Smith's hack job and the pseudo-relationships contrived by the DCCC to smear Graf.

The ultimate question here is whether the Huffman/Republican party establishment figures have inflicted enough damage on Republicans and the Graf campaign for the DCCC to capitalize on, which they are obviously trying to do. If they have, the problems created for Republicans are voters staying home and volunteers bailing out of other campaigns like the struggling Kyl campaign.

Less certain is whether Tom Reynolds and the NRCC have enough sense to recognize the widespread damage they have inflicted and pour money into the Graf campaign which can create a windfall of support for Kyl by re-igniting his conservative base.

Of course, Giffords is banking on a hard-hitting smear campaign by the DCCC early on and Bill Clinton's poll showing a strong Giffords lead to weaken the NRCC's resolve.


divided we fall said...

Got my invitation to attend a reception at Christine and Lute Olson’s house in Finisterra for $1,000. Don’t think so. At this point I wouldn’t pay 10 cents to meet with this crowd.

If it’s a meltdown in the party that they want then they may get it. I am glad there is a Libertarian running for the U.S. Senate so I don’t have to vote for a Democrat. You said it “the struggling Kyl campaign.” I guess Pederson is now within 5% according to the latest SurveyUSA poll.

I wonder how much longer before Matt Salmon jumps ship. It’s no fun being captain of a lifeboat.

sirocco said...

"If the candidates stay on task and debate the issues directly, Randy holds the edge because the most salient issue to voters where substantial change is demanded is the border where Giffords record is weak and Graf owns the issue as the Border Hawk. This issue alone has the power to unite Republicans, Independents, Libertarians and even some Democrats."

This is demonstrably untrue ... even in the Republican primary, more votes were cast for Huffman + Hellon (whose positions vis-a-vis the border are closer to Giffords than Graf) than were cast for Graf.

Meanwhile, on the Democratic side the only candidate who's views were close to Graf on border issues was esentially a non-factor in the vote tally.

Do the math ... even if you stipulate the border IS the number one issue (and I don't agree, I think the war trumps it, and here Graf's position is clearly on the wrong side of popular opinion), then Randy's on the wrong side of the issue anyway.

A small plurality of the R's and vast majority of the D's have voted in favor of candidates who favor border plans which are broader than Randy's proposals.

Anonymous said...

Considering the news today is that the NRCC has cancelled $1 million of advertising in the Graf race, apparently Tom Reynolds and the NRCC have made their decision.

The Committee said...

You're missing the distinction between Hellon and Huffman. Hellon's votes would never translate into Huffman votes. Hellon's position on the border, albeit stronger at the end, was always more closely aligned with Graf's than Huffman's. Hellon and Antenori votes were Graf votes, not Huffman votes. Hellon, Antenori and Graf supporters comprised the informed, loyal base. Huffman supporters were the less informed, decide-last-minute voters of whom some were fooled by Huffman's message of toughness on the border. They didn't vote for Huffman because they opposed border enforcement, or because they felt more strongly about the war (which Huffman supports, like Graf).

You are right, the border is not the number one issue among traditional Democrats, but it IS with Republicans, Independents and many less traditional Democrats. The fact that the majority of the people support Prop 200, the use of the National Guard on the border, and a fence suggests Randy is on the right side of the issue. I don't know what you mean when you mention candidates with broader border plans. Graf probably has had more influence than anyone on the three successes previously mentioned in addition to advocating enforcement of hiring laws, employer sanctions, better use of legal temporary worker programs, etc. His Prop 200 covered illegals accessing government services/benefits and voting. Hellon, and Huffman, supported all of these at the very end with the exception that they supported temporary amnesty for illegals already in the country (they called it a "guest worker program").

With the exception of Johnson, most of the Democrat candidates eventually made fairly strong statements about needing to control the border as well suggesting that they, too, see it as a critical issue to weigh in on.

Nationally, the war may be the number one issue. But I believe in Arizona, the border beats even the war among all but the more traditional Democrats (which are by no means a small percentage of the party).

I'm interested in your thoughts about this last statement, in particular.

Randall Holdridge said...

The Committee,

I understand what you're saying, and I'm sure I could come up with arguments to support it, but I don't think you have a very good feel for the totality of CD-8; I think that you are going to be surprised by how many libertarian as opposed to social conservative Republican primary voters, if they don't vote for Gabrielle Giffords, will vote Libertarian or Independent, where quite credible candidates are on offer.

And why do I think this? Partly it's just an old-timer's feel for the region; but while I'll concede the latest poll comes from the Giffords campaign, it says that with almost equal name ID in the district, Graf's "unfavorables" are 39%, as compared to 18% for Giffords.

You can work out all the rest of it for yourself, once you assume that in addition to the War and the border, health care, insurance, education, energy, wages, the environment, etc. are going to be brought relentlessly into the debate.

pinkiris said...

I agree with the committee on two points. Hellon voters had to hate Huffman's attacks and would never have voted for him. Two, this war is unlikely the main issue in this state. For one thing we have an inordinate number of retired military and a large number of current military and we are not afraid of guns in Arizona.

Unfortunately, the very same techniques that buried Pat Buchanan's candidacy are being used all over again. Pat understood the ramifications of Nafta and all-out immigration and Randy is similarly a prophet. Everything that Pat warned us about was used to frighten the children and it still works. Of course, Pat was proven right. As will Randy. Wouldn't it be nice if we had more grown-ups out there?

sirocco said...


We disagree on several core points, and I don't believe right now there is a means of determining whihc is correct.

I do not claim everyone who voted for Hellon would have voted for Huffman rather than Graf if Hellon weren't in the race. I claim Hellon's position on border issues were closer to Huffman (and Giffords) than they were to Graf, a claim you disagree with.

Further, you state the border is the primary issue among independents (and even some democrats) in the district, and I don't agree with that at all. My own experience is it's second to the war among independents, by a small but clear margin.

It's unquestionably second among Dems. The percent of Dems that rate the border > Iraq within the district is very small.

BTW, in the voting on Prop 200, Pima/Pinal/Santa Cruz counties actually voted against it by a small margin. The rest of the state (including Cochise) was heavily in favor. I haven't found any breakout numbers concerning the Cronkite poll on the fence issue.

Regardless, Prop 200 and the Great Wall of Baja America don't really have bearing on my contention, other than to support the notion immigration is A mejor issue, which I don't dispute.

What we really need is a poll of voters in the district which asks them what their top issues are. My guess is Iraq would lead immigration by 3-5% overall, with the economy a fairly distant 3rd.

Randall Holdridge said...


I failed to clip the article, so I can't you the stats, but you can track them down in AZ Daily Star archives.

The Star's pre-primary poll which proved very accurate in predicting the primary outcomes, also polled respondents on issue weighting.

These are not the real numbers, but my rough memory of the key points.

Among Republcans, the border issue ranked first, with about 65%. Among Dems, the border was #1 for 8%. Dems rated the Iraq war 1st, and I think it was second among Republicans.

The concerns for Democrats were more closely spread among more issues, e.g., medicare, social security, etc. But as I said, the poll has been done if you can find it on azstarnet. (I know you go there. :-) )

Framer said...


The problem with that poll question is that it did not address the #2 issue on people's minds as well.

If I were going to put that money and effort into a poll, you should at least ask a ranking question, but that's just me.

Also, the illegal immigration issue is more about security, health care, insurance, education, wages, and the environment than it is about immigration quotas. You can't really have a real conversation about any of those issues without confronting immigration, at least in Southern Arizona.

I can't wait for the debates.

Randall Holdridge said...

Sorry Framer, but it WAS a ranking question in the Star poll. As I said, I didn't clip the article (I'm an old-time newspaper and coffee guy), but it is definitely there to be found by you internets mavens.

Must I dig it up? I did the best I could by honest memory, but I ain't great at cybermining.

I get your argument about blaming Medicare Plan D, the privatization of social security, the corporate rapacity of medical insurance, the swollen prison populations, etc., on undocumented workers, and privileging the forced acceptance of evangelical religiosity in the lives of the poor and addicted; but I doubt that carries much water with real Westerners, or Westerner wannabes.

This is Mo Udall's seat in Congress, and Jim McNulty's. This is a congressional seat held for 22 years by the only openly gay Republican in Congress, a highly articulate representative who has been re-elected nonetheless by hewing a middle line on social issues and by becoming the leading American Congressional expert on international trade in ... by golly, a highly promising global trade region.

And the CD-8 Republicans are offering in his place an anti-trade, gay-hating, anti-choice, anti-trade, Mexico-hostile, creationist golf pro, who is uneasy shaking hands with strangers; this against a several generation native southern Aizonan with a superior practical and institutional education, a depth of personal international experience especially in Latin
America, and a warm, confident, and engaging personality.

The one has the unified backing of her party locally and nationally, and concrete evidence of crossover support from the opposition party. Her opponent, already far behind in fund-raising, has drawn deep and furious opposition locally within his own party, and has been publicly and noisily abandoned by his national party, and prances before the media with the absurd claim that this means the national party assumes his win and sees no need to help.

Randy Graf is what Republicans offer to replace Jim Kolbe? You're surely kidding.

Randall Holdridge said...

You're truly living in outer space. I'll give you a further example. John Dougherty (sp?), public spokesman for the Tucson Chamber of Commerce, which has endorsed Randy Graf, comes on the John C. Scott Show to talk about the November ballot propositions.

The Tucson Chamber is opposed (and I agree with them) to the livestock management proposition regarding state imposed care of calves and young swine.

Dougherty makes the point that the proposition is about pigs, and that there are, he says, only two pig farms in Arizona. Then he says he likes to eat veal as much as anyone, and makes it clear he thinks veal is pork. He not only is ignorant of the states
's many small hog raisers, he thinks that cattle aren't part of this bill, and most of all, he has no idea what meat he's putting in his mouth.

He also makes the disingenuous argument that the propositions regarding state trust lands(105 and 106), are too important to be left to the voters, and should be in the hands of state legislators, as if he didn't know that 105 was written by anti-environmentalist legislators, but only after 106, supported by environmental groups and public schools who are the AZ State Constitution's beneficiaries of state trust lands, had succeeded in in a grassroots signature gathering effort to launch their proposition.

Just how much insult do you suppose that people who aren't obsessed with their neighbors' color or sexual conduct are willing to bear?

This is Arizona, for goodness sake, not Mississippi.

x4mr said...

DCCC is pulling out.

The Committee said...


Are you Jeff Smith in disguise?

Framer said...


I don't think so, Randall uses bigger words.

Anonymous said...

Hey, TC, Randall,

Ask and ye shall receive ... I didn't see that prior poll you reference Randall, but the Star/KVOA had results of another one out this motrning. They show Giffords well ahead (Giffords 48.4, Graf 35.7 +- 3.9, 13% undecided), but what I really find interesting is this.

While a big percentage did indicate the border was the number one issue by a wide margin, in terms of importance it's a narrow percentage. So The Committee was correct on this.

Rate the importance of these issues when deciding whom to vote for: Important or very important
Immigration: 82.3%
War on terror: 82.2%
War in Iraq: 81.3%
Which party controls Congress: 71.3%
National economy: 69.1%
Health care: 67.8%
Gay marriage: 43.4%

What I found particularly interesting though was these two paragraphs from the acoompanying story"

"Graf, who has made border security his key issue, trails Giffords among voters who say immigration is important to them in this election.

Giffords also leads in the district's rural areas — Cochise, Pinal and Santa Cruz countries — where Graf has enjoyed popularity among Republicans."

The first paragraph doesn't suprise me -- I've been claiming even if the issue WAS number one in importance Giffords was on the right side of it. The second paragraph does surprise me, however.

Thoughts or comments anyone?

Tad said...

For those considering voting for the libertarian or independent candidates, I would like to remind you the last time a third party candidate garnered large support in a national election, we ended up with Bill Clinton. Now, I am no G HW Bush fan (I never was), but I was much less a fan of our former philanderer-in-chief. So busy with Monica, that Al-Qaeda was never a priority despite repeated attacks on American assets worldwide. Stack on that all the other socialist goals: higher taxes, weaker military, weaker intelligence, etc. and God save us from "universal health care". My point being (as a former hard-core libertarian turned libertarian-conservative), that voting for a candidate who has no chance of winning is always a vote for the greater of two evils. I voted for Perot (wacko that he is/was) and got Clinton. That's great. You want to vote Libertarian or independent? Get ready for Giffords to represent you with Nancy Pelosi heading up the next 2 years of impeachment hearings against our commander-in-chief while AQ is trying to blow up more building/kill more Americans. No thanks. This is not a time for making a "statement" with your vote. This is a time to kill terrorists and GWBush will be - to put it mildly - severely hampered by a democrat controlled house. This rate is desperately important.

I urge every right thinking American to ignore the media spin and support Randy Graf as the only choice in CD8 for sanity in Congress.

sirocco said...

odd ... that post two above, attributed to Anonymous, should have been attributed to Sirocco ... sorry about that.

sirocco said...

No, tad, you don't have to go back that far to bring up an independent candidate with unexpected influence on a Presidential election.

You can stop at 2000, when Nader's campaign in Florida brought us the recent six years of hell and counting.

I'd much rather have a President who has an extra-marital affair than one who lies to get us into a war, lies to keep is there, manages to destroy or reputation internationally, ignores the Constitution, illiegaly violates the rights of it's citizens, and actively lobbies in favor of torturing individuals who haven't been found guilty of anything. Just to name a few ...

Meanwhile, the Republican-controlled Congress nods ok at all this like a set of bobble-head dolls.

A vote for Graf is a vote which implicitly condones all of the above. If you want to change the direction of the country, you need to vote Dem this year.

This isn't a time to be stampeded by repititious fear-mongering from the administration and it's platoon of talking heads and news-circuit pundits. It is most certainly a time to make a "statement" wit your vote, and that statement needs to be sent loud and clear.

I urge every right thinking American to ignore the media spin and support Gabrielle as the only choice in CD8 for sanity in Congress. said...

Both the Giffords poll and the Zimmerman poll in the Star do not show any information about their polling samples: other than the ambiguous "likely voters" in both polls. If we don't know who they polled, then we cannot verify the accuracy of the poll. Regardless, it looks like the more people know about Gabby, the less they like her. Her support went from 54% in her poll four days ago to 48.4% in the Zimmerman poll. Randy Graf clearly has the momentum at this point.

sirocco said...

Uhm, How does Randy have any momentum when, between the two polls, he basically picked up no one. The difference is purely between Giffords and Undecided, with Graf unchanging.

No, most people, including Giffords supporters such as myself, felt 19% was too high. This range of 12-13% seems more correct to me.

Further, there's just not enough difference in dates and events to account for a 6% swing other than just difference in who was contacted. said...


I am glad that you, as a Giffords supporter, are calling Gabby a liar. You’re probably right; she probably did fabricate a completely useless private poll. That’s a great way for her to start gaining the trust of the general public too. Ok, I’m sorry. You just kind of set yourself up for that one. I still think Gabby’s probably a nice person – even though she’s wrong on every issue. At least she’s not Jim Kolbe. Out of the four remaining candidates, they are all leagues ahead of Kolbe one of America’s all-time greatest sellouts.

Still, we have no specifics on the samples of either poll. When it comes to national polls or any polls on any topic, without releasing accurate information on the polling sample, it is not even worthwhile to release a poll. But using the numbers from the Zimmerman poll, Randy Graf has moved from being 19 points behind in Giffords’ poll to being only down 12.7% in the Zimmerman poll. I would call that momentum. Whether or not Giffords’ first poll was a true sample at this point is irrelevant. She was the one who was dumb enough to release the poll in the first place. So, she’s the one who has to live with the fact that Randy has closed the gap with her to possibly single digits since the Zimmerman poll had a 3.9% margin of error. Maybe Giffords was too excited about the possibility of scaring away donors to a “losing” Graf campaign to think about how bad she’d look if a poll came out 4 days later showing her how wrong she was.

sirocco said...


Hmmm ... I believe the initial poll was a "true" sample, just more of a statistical outlier. The difference in Giffords' backers is covered by the combined MOE of the two polls, and her actual lead is likely somewhere in the middle.

Remember, the ending dates of the polls were the same -- i.e., both polls were occurring at the same time. So there is no "slippage", just a difference in who was polled.

Another blogger (BlogForArizona) makes the interesting point that since the difference is almost entirely in the undecideds, it seems likely the Zimmerman poll was doing more to encourage people to actually make a choice than the Star/KVOA poll. If true, this means there may be more voters open to be pursuaded, but when pushed they are likely to head to Giffords, not Graf.