Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Bevin Underwhelmed and Underperformed

Josh Holmes, Senior Advisor to the McConnell Senate Committee '14 (and a brilliant tactician) has compared  ten years of  results of U.S. Senate races in which the incumbent was "primaried."  These races reveal that primary challengers to an incumbent senator who spend more than $1 million average 47.57 percent of the vote.

Matt Bevin's campaign has spent in excess of $3.3 million, and yet, going into Primary Election Day, he trailed McConnell by 20 points.  Even if Bevin gets a late rush of support, there is no universe in which it is possible for him to win 47 percent of the vote, despite the fact that he has spent more than three times the magic million dollar number.

 Bevin spent more than any primary challenger of an incumbent senator in the last two cycles, thanks to Senate Conservative Fund, Freedomworks, Tea Party Patriots and the Madison Project.  All those dollars spent by outside groups ended up helping the paid consultants and operatives, but did little to advance Bevin as a serious candidate. (Contributors to those organizations, you've been duped.)

Moreover, Bevin got a huge boost in name idea by the amount of media coverage of him, approximately 3.5 times more than the winner of last week's Senate primary in Nebraska, home to Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid.  The coverage overstated Bevin's ability, not only as a candidate, but as an existential threat to McConnell.  Recall that Joe Gerth said that McConnell "would rather have a strangulated hernia than face Matt Bevin."  Well, sure, McConnell undoubtedly would have preferred to avoid a primary. Even still, Bevin, was more of a distraction and an annoyance, hardly comparable to a "strangulated hernia."

I will resist the temptation to compare the media predictions and assessments of Bevin at the outset with the reality of how he actually performed.  There is no point.  He is by many accounts a good father and neighbor. He says that he is a conservative, and if so, he will get behind the most conservative candidate who will be on the ballot come November, the future Senate Majority Leader:  Mitch McConnell.

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