The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Brown Clown Going Down: ‘Sorry Charlie’ Crist Isn’t Tanned, He’s Toast in Florida

Posted on | September 26, 2010 | 10 Comments

The latest poll tells the sad tale for Mr. RINO-No-More:

A statewide poll released Saturday night shows Republican Marco Rubio building on his lead over independent challenger Charlie Crist, while Democrat Kendrick Meek appears to be closing in on Crist in the closely watched contest.
Rubio is favored by 40 percent of likely voters, up from 38 percent last month; Crist’s support has dwindled to 28 percent from 33 percent, according to the Mason-Dixon Research & Associates survey of 625 likely Florida voters. . . .
The poll found that Meek is gaining on Crist, with his support rising sharply to 23 percent of likely voters, up from 18 percent. Nine percent are undecided.
“Rubio seems to be in a solid position to win, while Crist is fading,” said Mason-Dixon pollster Brad Coker: “Crist is bleeding Democrats to Meek and independents to both Meek and Rubio.”

Hey, I knew it all along. Immediately after Crist declared he was running as an independent, when the polls showed him leading the three-way — keep in mind Crist led every single Quinnipiac poll from April through August — some people seemed on the verge of panic, but I never broke a sweat.

Why? Because independent voters can’t stand a waffler.

What independent voters go for is authenticity. They like a candidate who stands strong for whatever it is he believes in and calls ’em like he sees ’em. It doesn’t matter if the candidate is a kook or a crank — e.g., Ross Perot — so long as he’s got that “straight-shooter” thing going on.

A lot of pundits always talk about independent voters as if these people are “moderate” or “centrist,” but that’s a complete misunderstanding of who most of independents are and what they’re about. In general, independent voters are anti-politics. They don’t like party labels, they don’t like “Washington politicians,” and they harbor a deep mistrust toward our entire political system.

Lots of pundits don’t get this, because most pundits don’t spend nearly enough time just talking to Ordinary Americans. When I go out on the road to cover campaigns, I talk to all kinds of people who aren’t involved in politics: Convenience-store clerks, taxi drivers, fellow customers at fast-food joints, etc. I don’t interview these people, I just talk to them. Most of the time, I don’t even tell them I’m a reporter. And what you hear a lot when you’re talking to regular people in that kind of informal way is something like, “I don’t trust any of those politicians. They’re all a bunch of damn crooks.”

There’s your independent voter in a nutshell. It’s not about Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative. When pundits say that Republicans are losing elections because they’re “too conservative,” I call B.S., because I’ve talked to enough independent voters to know better. If Republicans are losing, it’s because they are perceived as phony, unprincipled and selfish — inauthentic, and therefore untrustworthy.

So I never for one minute bought into the idea that a transparent fraud like Charlie Crist could win as an independent because he was “centrist.” Truth be known, the kind of double-backflip reverse-somersault act Crist was trying to pull was the exact opposite of what independent voters really like.

Really, ask yourself: Was Ross Perot “centrist”? Or was Jesse Ventura “centist”? Their policy ideas were kind of a mixed bag in terms of the usual liberal/conservative spectrum, but neither one was what you could honestly call a moderate. Both of them were pissed-off guys with a decidely rightward slant.

Something else: Independent voters are superficial. Because they don’t usually spend much time paying attention to politics — because they hate politics — they’re not very issue-oriented. Independents may have one or two pet issues they really care about personally, so that you get a truck driver who can tell you all about fuel prices or FCC regulations, but they don’t tend to go issue-by-issue checking off candidates’ positions according to any preconceived ideology.

What indepedendent voters do is look at and listen to candidate and decide on the basis of, “Do I like this guy? Does he seem trustworthy? Is he up to the job?”

Now, in your mind’s eye, line up Marco Rubio next to Charlie Crist, and look at them as if you were the typical independent “swing” voter.

No contest, you see?

Even if Charlie Crist weren’t so obviously a self-interested political hack who would say or do anything to get elected . . . well, Marco Rubio is sexy.

Did I mention that a lot of women are independent voters?

From the very outset, then, Charlie Crist’s third-party campaign was doomed to failure. Now he’s faded below 30 percent and is taking more votes from the Democrat, Kendick Meek, than he is from Rubio.

Let a couple more weeks go by, and Crist will be in third place in the polls. By Halloween, Crist’s numbers will probably be below 20% and Rubio will be near 50%. Rubio might actually win an outright majority on Nov. 2 — a difficult feat, but not impossible if the current trend continues.

Why is Crist doomed to fade? Because independent voters are inveterate bandwagon-jumpers. They’re susceptible to peer pressure and what I call “prestige” arguments: “You should support so-and-so because he’s gonna win and that’s who all the smart people support.” That was really the secret of Barack Obama’s success: He was indisputably the prestige candidate in 2008, and as such appealed to a lot of independents. After late September, as the polls began to show Obama opening a wider and wider lead, it kind of snowballed, because independents like to vote for a winner.

Now that Charlie Crist is definitely looking like a loser, his support will melt down steadily, and you’ll see a serious shift of independent voters toward the guy I always knew would be the winner.


UPDATE: Thanks to Cubachi for this video of Marco on “Face the Nation”:

Anybody think Crist can beat this guy? Show of hands — anybody? Hello?


10 Responses to “Brown Clown Going Down: ‘Sorry Charlie’ Crist Isn’t Tanned, He’s Toast in Florida”

  1. Rob
    September 26th, 2010 @ 2:06 pm

    Once again honesty is the best policy…I think Charlie Crist has a hard time following that. I will no longer panic when I see an independent run…even if it’s Lisa Muroaksdjgawegkaksdjkja;sdlf.

  2. just a conservative girl
    September 26th, 2010 @ 2:08 pm

    I heard some democrat congressman talking today saying Rubio wasn’t going to win this contest………he was certain of it. How do they say these things with a straight face.

  3. JeffS
    September 26th, 2010 @ 2:26 pm

    That was really the secret of Barack Obama’s success: He was indisputably the prestige candidate in 2008, and as such appealed to a lot of independents.

    Yup! And I’m certain that his handlers — specifically, David Axelrod — knows this as well. That’s one reason (among several, but the major one, IMHO) as to why McCain lost.

    Obama’s problem is that he lost his prestige after his dismal performance. The mask came off, and the indies didn’t like what they saw.

    So I’m thinking that what’s happening to Crist now is a harbinger for Obama’s fate. And this couldn’t happen to a nicer pair of guys.

  4. kansas
    September 26th, 2010 @ 2:36 pm

    When these people lose in the general, will they just write themselves into the office? After all they seem to trouble taking NO for an answer.

  5. Lonely Conservative
    September 26th, 2010 @ 3:00 pm

    Thanks for the FMJR Award! 🙂