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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Friday, May 27, 2022

The Akin Ploy in a CA House Race

Our book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses state and congressional elections

In the 2012 Missouri  Senate race, incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill ran ads during the GOP primary campaign saying that Todd Akin was "too conservative."  The idea of the "attack ad" was to drive GOP voters to Akin, her weakest potential foe.  It worked.  Other campaigns have tried the same thingEven in California.

Republican Rep. Young Kim raised eyebrows on Tuesday with a new broadcast ad buy in LA targeting Greg Raths, suggesting Kim could see her GOP opponent as a serious obstacle to reelection in California’s 40th Congressional district. Just this week, Democratic candidate Asif Mahmood launched a separate ad buy on cable TV, contrasting his views on abortion with those of Raths, a now all-too-common tactic to elevate one’s preferred opponent.

Melanie Mason and Seema Mehta at LAT:

Kim’s sudden advertising onslaught against Raths has made others take notice. The Cook Political Report, which does nonpartisan elections analysis, noted that “GOP strategists believe Kim was slow to take Raths seriously” and rated the seat as “lean Republican,” down from the stronger “likely Republican” it had initially assessed.

Meanwhile, Mahmood, the Democrat, has spent more than $400,000 on air attacking Raths for being too conservative on abortion, indirectly boosting Raths’ appeal among the GOP base. The ad does not mention Kim at all.

“We’ll be prepared in the general for whoever emerges, but right now it looks more likely to be Raths,” said Nathan Click, a Mahmood campaign strategist.

Political gamesmanship is also likely at play. There is a long tradition of candidates trying to elevate an opponent in the primary whom they see as more beatable in November. Kim’s allies accused Democrats of “disinformation” by trying to publicize Raths.

The Republican state party has sent mailers trumpeting Kim and has staff in her district working on contacting voters. Reinforcement also came from Congressional Leadership Fund, a McCarthy-aligned super PAC that plowed more than $650,000 into television and radio ads for the final days of the primary.

“This would be the equivalent of taking your shoe and crushing an ant in terms of political heft,” said Jon Fleischman, a GOP strategist. “Why not use it?... If she can stomp out her opponents in a pretty meaningful way, it is a deterrent to this happening again in two years.”

Raths’ resources are minuscule by comparison. He’s spent less than $10,000 on radio ads and has sent out texts highlighting Kim’s vote to censure Trump after the insurrection. Still, his ground game and indirect advertising from Mahmood gave him enough hope to put up $90,000 of his own money.

“We’ll see in two weeks if that was a good bet,” he said.

But Raths may be self-destructing: