Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Birther Fizzle

As far as I know, exactly 100% of all political junkies -- plus, I suppose, the Barack Obama campaign -- were rooting for birther queen Orly Taitz to advance to the November election against Dianne Feinstein.

In the event, however, her campaign was a major fizzle; not only did she wind up far behind de facto GOP nominee (and extreme November longshot) Elizabeth Emken, but she was also behind two other Republicans, and barely ahead of a couple more.

That isn't stopping TPM's Ryan Reilly from still trying to prop her up; his story (which doesn't even mention the less embarrassing Emken) is about how Taitz succeeded in "racking up tens of thousands of votes."

C'mon. The Taitz fizzle is a pretty clear sign that most Republican voters want nothing to do with her brand of nonsense. First of all, those "tens of thousands" of votes add up to just 3% of the vote, or just over 6% of the GOP half of the vote (remember, this is a "jungle" primary in which all candidates appear on the ballot). It's a big state! That's for a candidate who probably had better name recognition than the one(s) who clobbered her.

And, on top of that, I wouldn't be at all surprised if a fair number of her eventual 110K votes came from insincere Democrats crossing over to try to mess with the process. Again -- the new California system encourages that sort of thing. After all, every Democrat who voted had the opportunity to vote for any of the Senate candidates. Dianne Feinstein didn't need any votes; she was clearly going to wind up on the November ballot (she finished 43 points ahead of the third place candidate). She should beat Emken easily, but against Taitz she wouldn't have had to spend a penny, and Mitt Romney would have had to deal with distancing himself from an embarrassment, something he hasn't been especially good at. I certainly would have advised any Democrat looking to vote strategically to strongly consider Taitz, and I suspect many of them did so.

I've always thought that the polling that shows extensive belief in or sympathy to birther theories is picking up a lot more on general dislike of Barack Obama than it is in any kind of serious buy-in to wild conspiracy theories. Unfortunately, I don't have much to back that up; the typical polls don't explore enough to confirm my suspicions. But the electoral fate of Orly Taitz does tend to support it. After all, Republicans had little to lose by nominating her, given that they have very little chance to win that seat. That they reject her anyway is at least a bit of evidence that whatever they tell pollsters, many Republican voters really want nothing to with at least that version of the crazy.

12 comments:

  1. I thought Elizabeth Emken sounded familiar. She ran for Congress last cycle in the district I lived in, and came in (I believe) third. Now she's the Republican U.S. Senate candidate. Tells you everything you need to know about the state of the GOP here.

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  2. If Dianne Feinstein had a notable primary challenger I would have voted for him/her. No need for such a centrist in a deep blue state like California.

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  3. I'm a strategic Dem; but, in the first election of its kind, and with Feinstein's name buried amongst dozens (seriously, it took me a while to find it), I voted Feinstein, although Taitz would have pleased me to no end. I just couldn't risk my Taitz vote being wasted, and two Rs (maybe even with her as one of them) being the candidates.

    I mean, look at CD 31. If Dems told themselves "there's no action on our side, let's pick the opponent!" they screwed up. Gary Miller (he of the 99 or 100 lifetime ACU score, I forget which) is going to represent a left-of-center district. This is seriously messed up.

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  4. (Sheepish grin)...Um, just to confirm, well, uh, yeah there were some Dems (or at least one) who voted for Orly with less than pure (aka insincere)intentions. I confess.

    It would have been wonderful to see the GOP dance around her candidacy. Oh well...

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    1. I'm actually pretty surprised that Jarvis didn't. I was thinking of calling him out in the post, but when I wrote it I wasn't sure if it was headed here or over to Greg's place, and then I forgot to think about putting him in...

      It wouldn't surprise me at all if half of her votes were from Democrats voting strategically, and that a good number of the rest were from vague name recognition from voters who had no idea what she was known for.

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    2. You forget that my opinion of voters is so low, that when I had a little bit of trouble finding Feinstein, I assumed many voters would, and that she might need the help.

      But, were this a blanket primary, oh yes, without a doubt: I'm a raider.

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  5. "And, on top of that, I wouldn't be at all surprised if a fair number of her eventual 110K votes came from insincere Democrats crossing over to try to mess with the process."

    You know, i just took a quick glance at that part of the ballot and didn't even notice Orly was on it. If I had I SO would have voted for her! C'mon, we thought Sharron Angle and the Wicked Witch of Delaware were fun, what kind of a hoot would an Orly Taitz candicacy been?!?!

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  6. I could be wrong (as always), but I've long suspected that the birther hoopla failed because of what it implied about traditional conservative sacred cows.

    Set aside for a second the actual validity of Obama's short-form birth certificate; the State Department followed policy by issuing Obama a passport based on that document. Which doesn't guarantee that the thing isn't fake, but if it is, then the State Department has abominably poor internal controls.

    Since an entity like the State Department having terrible internal controls is far outside the Republican canon, the birther hysteria was bound to be millions of miles wide and a millimeter deep.

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    1. @CSH: I'm not following. Please explain how this would violate conservative sacred cows? My reading of your passage is: "dang government bureaucrats always screwing things up," which would seem to fit in nicely with conservative dogma.

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    2. Matt - well, your point is certainly well-taken where an official at CMS or the SSA is concerned. But State, especially in its capacity to issue entry/exit documents, is not far removed from the nerve center of the GWOT, and thus it might be disconcerting to think an evildoer could swim or paddle up to the Honolulu Haberdashery of Leis and Easily Faked US Govt Documents, and in the process rather simply circumvent an important line of defense.

      Or put more directly: if State is less effective at spotting these things than Orly Taitz, potentially 50% of Fox News' advocacy in the Bush years is immediately rendered irrelevant.

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  7. Taitz' failure doesn't have to mean that Republicans don't want anything to do with birtherism, it could also be that they simply don't consider her an effective messenger to make that case. Her lawsuits have often been thrown out because she didn't even get the basics right, and her over-the-top TV appearances haven't exactly strengthened her credibility either. Meanwhile, Donald Trump actually surged in the polls even without officially declaring his cadidacy, just because he promised to make it a national issue. Of course, he would've made an incredibly poor candidate as well, but realizing that takes a bit of time for reflection. Taitz had been around for much longer and waged an actual campaign, so voters had much more time to consider her myriad flaws.

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