Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. Among other things, it discusses state and congressional elections.
Ryan Lizza and Eugene Daniels at Politico:
The conventional wisdom over the summer was that Oz was a deeply flawed candidate who couldn’t win, but the race is a toss-up. Republicans just decided to pour an additional $6 million into Pennsylvania to help Oz. “We believe if we win Pennsylvania, we win the majority,” STEVEN LAW, who runs the most important Senate GOP super PAC, told POLITICO Tuesday.
And then Fetterman failed to meet even the low expectations his own campaign set for him Monday in a memo that predicted “awkward pauses, missing some words, and mushing other words together” as well as “temporary miscommunications at times.”
It’s obvious that Rep. DAN CRENSHAW is sightless in one eye or that Sen. TAMMY DUCKWORTH lost her legs. Nobody questions whether those injuries have an impact on their ability to serve in Congress.
But Fetterman’s disability is different. It prevents him from performing adequately in a candidate ritual — the campaign debate — that has long been associated, correctly or not, with electability and effectiveness in Congress. The plain fact is that Fetterman was not capable of debating Oz. He could have skipped the debate, as some Democrats suggested he should have after it was over, but the Fetterman campaign gambled that the media would educate voters about his auditory issues and then referee any attacks on him with charges of ableism.
BUT, BUT, BUT — There are two well-worn cliches about debates: (1) They are rarely won but can sometimes be lost. (2) They are decided by the coverage in subsequent days rather than on debate night itself.
Fetterman clearly lost last night. ”[T]he biggest issue was John Fetterman's health and his ability to comprehend speech, and to then speak coherently on the issues of the day," said LELAND VITTERT of NewsNation, which sponsored the debate, in what was typical of the immediate coverage.
But the Fetterman campaign is betting that Oz will lose the all-important post-debate conversation. Fetterman has a potent weapon: Oz’s statement that abortion should be left up to “women, doctors, local political leaders.”