The Most Interesting Congressional Race In 2012…

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Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.

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30 Responses

  1. Avatar NewDealer says:

    I have nothing to add except that I think ASU is in Tuscon and Tuscon is not mentioned on your map. So I don’t think it is part of the new district.

    I am fully expecting to need to make a mea culpa within a half hour of pressing post.Report

  2. Avatar trizzlor says:

    I strongly doubt any but a small minority of people would, if asked, indicate that any of these things would affect their political behavior in terms of endorsing, financially supporting, and voting for either candidate.

    Burt, I’m having trouble reconciling that statement with a recent Gallup poll that shows 30% of respondents wouldn’t vote for a gay president and 43% wouldn’t vote for an atheist from their own party! Are you saying that identity politics matter less at the local level, or that people claim in polls that they won’t vote for a “generic gay atheist” but would vote for one that they can put a human face on, or what?Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to trizzlor says:

      1a. Ms. Sinema is bisexual, which isn’t the same thing as gay. Perhaps to folks who don’t spend a lot of time parsing out what those words mean, they may be functional equivalents, as in “not heterosexual like me.” I think most people know the difference, but then again, I thought most people knew what that rainbow flag stands for and I was wrong about that.

      1b. “Nontheistic” is Ms. Sinema’s term to describe her belief structure; it may or may not have the same meaning as whatever it was when the Gallup poll answered questions about atheist candidates. Some of the voters will (correctly) learn what Ms. Sinema’s beliefs are and a sub-group of them will care; others will either not know or not care. One of the things that will be interesting to me is to what extent the voters do make a political preference decision with that factor in mind.

      2. Similarly, running for Congress isn’t the same thing as running for President. Maybe similar enough that the Gallup poll is a good cognate. But maybe not. While the average voter may not be hugely well-informed, I would postulate that the average voter attaches greater overall importance to a vote for President than a vote for a representative in the lower house of Congress. Personally, I look at a candidate for Congress with a different rubric than I look at a candidate for President: I like to see leadership experience and good judgments about individual character in a President, where I like to see good listening skills, knowledge of local economic issues, and evidence of successful teamwork in a legislator. Being a solipsistic egoist about such matters, I can only imagine that other people are just like me.

      3. The idea that voters would respond differently to being asked about an actual person like Ms. Sinema or Mr. Parker, as opposed to a faceless amalgam of adjectives, is one that I think may well have some merit to it; your comment implies that you are somewhat dismissive of that possibility. But I can see someone saying “Wow, a ‘gay atheist’ sounds like someone very different from me, and that makes me uncomfortable,” but a moment later looking at a picture of Ms. Sinema, and saying, “She looks like my next-door neighbor, so yeah, I could see myself voting for her, all other things being equal.”

      4. I find it distasteful to even point out the mixed-race marriage issue and the race issue with respect to Mr. Parker, because I would prefer to think that those are non-issues in today’s world. Black candidates for Congress do get elected, both as Republicans and Democrats, from majority-white districts; a black Congressional candidate seemed to steal the hearts of everyone at the RNC on Tuesday night; Barack Obama did get elected President; another prominent mixed-race marriage, that of Clarence and Virginia Thomas, has been well-accepted by the political establishment. But recent experience on these very pages suggests that considering only the happy news about race would be a fiction, albeit a pleasant one, and in fact there are all sorts of ways, not all of which are very pleasant, that racial biases sneak in to political decisions. (Other distasteful biases too, of course, but race seems the most explosive.)

      5. So maybe you’re right, and I’m giving voters more credit than they deserve to suggest that voters would deny that these things are unimportant to them. Seeing the same poll, I think they’d be faster to make such a denial with respect to Mr. Parker’s circumstances than Ms. Sinema’s. But we’ll have some insight into that in November with election returns and exit polls. That’s why I thought this particular matchup was of particular interest, and that’s why I chose to highlight it for the Readers here.Report

  3. Avatar Dan Miller says:

    I think that how each of these will be used–especially Sinema’s non-theism–will be more interesting than which one of them wins. Will the opposing campaign be willing to use them in rhetoric, either overtly or covertly? Will outside groups bring these factors into the race? Thanks for bringing this to my attention.Report

  4. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    Wow, a close race with two qualified candidates that are good at what they do – either of which might make a really great Congressperson.

    Too bad we’ll have to forgo focusing on this race so that we can point the cameras at all the races with the nut jobs, gaffe-makers and people that purposely spout offensive and incendiary rhetoric.Report

  5. Avatar Mitchell Wachtel says:

    What would you say about a candidate’s being connected with organized crime? Would that alter your opinion of the candidate?Report

    • Avatar Mitchell Wachtel in reply to Mitchell Wachtel says:

      Arguendo, let’s take Sun Yee On, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/27/las-vegas-sands_n_1833806.html Assume Mr. Sun were to be accused of assisting in a conspiracy on US soil to have someone in China assassinated. Now let’s say that Politician X promoted speeches by Mr. Sun on his behalf to proclaim his innocence in this matter. At trial, Mr. Sun is found guilty & currently resides in a pleasant federal facility with all meals provided free of charge. He still has a support group, pushing appeal after appeal, years after having been incarcerated for involvement in a scheme to murder someone in a foreign land.

      What would you say if politician X refused to say that he had cut off contact with Mr. Sun more than two years ago? Would you not vote against that person?Report

      • I think that for between 70 to 80 percent of the electorate in any given district, the answer is “You haven’t given me enough information. Is politician X a Democrat or a Republican?”

        For the remainder, a reasonable number will read the article you linked to and not identify it as the scenario you described at all. Sun Yee On is identified in the article an organized crime entity, not a person. The criminal suspect identified in the row (Charles Heung Wah Keung) has not been convicted in any court in any country of any crime. I see nothing in the article referencing conspiracies to commit murder; I see references to racketeering (a remarkably inexact word) and prostitution and loan-sharking and while I’m not so naive as to think that organized crime enterprises are above such things, I don’t see evidence relating to your hypothetical in the article you linked.

        I do see that Mr. Keung had a credit with a Las Vegas casino within a multi-national business enterprise owned, in part, by the candidate (Sheldon Adelson). Mr. Keung wished to transfer that credit to another casino owned by that same enterprise in Macau, and the casino enterprise accomodated him in that request. Absent a showing that such a transfer violates either Nevada, U.S. Federal, Macanese, or PRC law, or a showing that Mr. Keung came by that money as a result of the proceeds of criminal activity, it seems to me that it’s his money and he can do what he wants with it.

        I’m shocked — shocked — that casinos are willing to overlook unproven suspicions, no matter how reasonable, of less-than-savory activities by their big-spending patrons. No, not really. Mr. Adelson is not an angel, I’m sure. But the contents of your comment are so at variance with the article you link to for support that words like “prevarication” and “deception” come readily to mind.Report

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