It’s primary day! Huzzah!
It’s a big day in for U.S. House races in the redistricted 11th and 14th. But the real story seems to be the Republican U.S. Senate primary. Cornerstone co-founder Clark Durant and former House Rep. Pete Hoekstra square off in a real barn-burner. The polls may indicate a clear Hoekstra lead, but conservative scuttlebutt indicates that this race might be a little closer than expected.
Clark Durant has been surging in the polls, and advertisements are running big in almost every metro region in the state. And as the ads started to ramp up during the Olympics, you can tell someone believes that the gap is closing. Durant’s campaign suggests that recent polling makes them top-kick, but it’s a hard sell on an empirical level with little data to support heady conclusions.
The big picture is that Stabenow still leads both candidates by 10 points without a doubt. It’s hard to claim that Stabenow’s lead is only “in single digits,” or to claim someone is more competitive by “0.x%” without noticing their “3.x%” margin-of-error turns these conclusions into mop water.
In truth, Senator Stabenow leads without question, significantly beyond margin-of-error, and then some.
Even in this GOP-friendly atmosphere, with GOP-friendly pollsters, and GOP-friendly media, Little Debbie’s going to bake them up absent a real shift in momentum.
I’m not trying to up-sell the Junior Senator from Michigan. I’m trying to wake up conservatives to the truth of this race. Stabenow has little to fear from an already-ran candidate. If Pete Hoekstra wins the nomination, we’ll see a great race that he will lose with a valiant effort.
And that’s the problem.
For any conservative, it’s safe to say that Pete Hoekstra will be the only candidate who can stay close to Stabenow. But also for any conservative, it’s safe to say he will still lose in every possible scenario with Stabenow. In fact, he is the best “loser” the MIGOP will have. Picking Hoekstra will get the silver without a doubt. He’ll finish just mere points from Stabenow, once again proving the narrative that party relevance is more important than actually trying to win an election and bring voters out.
Pete’s problem is that he’s offering to win a silver medal in a two-person race. If we pick Hoekstra, we know we will lose, finding solace in losing by a little. Is that the point of this nomination? To pick someone whose only positive is that they will lose pretty?
Is this the establishment mantra we’ve been duped into? That if we lose by less, that’s somehow justifiable for any conservative, whether moderate or Nugentian?
Or should we ask ourselves if we’re committed to pick a candidate who can actually break the mold?
Believe me, it’s not a done deal if Durant wins the nomination. He’s got a 10% gap. He’s got to find that same appeal that Gov. Snyder had in 2010. He’s got to face Detroit and his responsibility as senator to embrace his entire constituency, both red and blue. If Clark wins, he must appeal to independents that brought the Nerd-in-Chief to Lansing, bring in voters from the other side with his focus on education, and create a movement in suburbia that overwhelms the urban vote. Crossovers lean more easily toward Durant than Hoekstra, and that’s the voter you must have to defeat Stabenow in the general election.
If you lose, you probably lose big. But no one can question the commitment.
Pundits will say it’s far better that Hoekstra loses by a few than Durant losing by a mile. I disagree. I think that the only way the GOP takes the Senate is if they fully commit to win or die trying. It’s a false assumption that a big loss by Durant will change the constituency of Michigan, or do anything to affect the spirit of conservatives in the states. Our state vote always clips out at about 6-9 points left to right. And the only way the MIGOP gets a win is when the independents back them up.
The independent disadvantage that Pete Hoekstra carries won’t be there if Clark Durant wins. If Clark is the nominee, the built-in advantage Stabenow has is erased. It’s still an uphill battle, but it’s far easier if you don’t have to fight for every step, or be burdened by the inability to hire a good SEO manager. Hoekstra’s ghosts of Youtube still haunt him if you search: ”Hoekstra Ad”.
For the GOP faithful, I think I’m asking a lot from you. It goes against pretty much all of the principles you’ve had beaten into your skull. Polls consistently show you still want Hoekstra. While that is the default perspective, I suggest a different look from a different perspective.
My philosophy is about information and debate. I can support a candidate who I tend to disagree with all the time, granted their arguments and evidence are grounded in reality. I have friends in state legislatures who I can fully agree with, even if we’re on polar opposites of the politics. And I would vote in confidence for them to represent their constituents because I trust their reasoning and their process, not because they claim to be something populist. Clark Durant is a reasonable candidate who has some differences in policy with me. But I trust his judgment as the representative of the state, not someone who goes rushing to the media trying to crow the loudest from a party memo. Like Senator Tom Coburn, I don’t agree with some of his policies, but I sure as heck respect his reasoning. I feel comfortable trusting in that disagreement rather than seeing some idiot screaming terrorism so he can have a fundraiser.
I also believe we should have a conservative Senator and a progressive Senator in our state. I don’t see how constituents get a fair shake from having only half of their constituents represented on either side. Having two Democrat Senators is just as bad as having two Republican Senators. And since we’ve already got Senator Carl “It’s a Clustercussy Deal” Levin, I don’t need another liberal firebrand parroting a talking point instead of debating the merits of the issue.
In the end, it’s easier for me to vote Clark Durant than Pete Hoekstra. And if that’s easier for me, it’s probably easier for a lot of independents who are done with the D. By the polls, by the pure numbers of Michigan voters, the only way the MIGOP upsets Team Stabenow is with the consent of the indies. With Durant, there’s an open book to write.
I think that’s the simplest way I can put it.