A Moore Information survey released last week shows challenger Dino Rossi leading incumbent Christine Gregoire 48% to 42% in the 2008 gubernatorial contest, prompting the pollsters to speculate about the Washington state GOP’s rising prospects:
The fact that Rossi leads in this match-up is interesting and encouraging for Republicans in and of itself…
Encouraging news indeed… especially for those Republicans living in that alternate universe where contests are decided a year after the election, and solely on the basis of surveys conducted by Republican pollsters.
I mean honestly, could you get any more deluded?
Rossi, of course, led in the polls throughout 2005. And 2006. And 2007. According to Rasmussen, Rossi even led Gregoire by a substantial 52% to 46% margin as late as September of 2008. And yet on election day, he lost 53% to 46%, and by nearly 200,000 votes.
And that’s the only poll that counts.
Yet local Republicans continue to attempt to spin opinion surveys and East Coast gubernatorial races into evidence of some sort of imminent GOP revival, all the while refusing to address the real cause of their party’s recent string of electoral failures: its own failed and out of touch policies. Is it any wonder that merely branding Susan Hutchison a “Republican” was enough to torpedo her chances when the WSRP proudly endorses the likes of I-1033, an initiative rejected by business and labor groups alike, and which was crushed in King County by a 69% to 31% margin?
It’s not all that hard to capitalize on anti-incumbent sentiment in a hypothetical survey conducted years or even months out from an election. But once voters are asked to make a choice with actual consequences, they tend to vote for the candidates who best share their values. And that’s a metric on which Republicans shouldn’t feel encouraged at all.