Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Running off

Kentucky holds its Gubernatorial primary election today. Despite approval ratings which rival the President's, incumbent Governor Ernie Fletcher is expected to win the Republican nomination easily.

The Democratic nomination is a different story. It seems to be a relatively even four-way race among Steve Beshear, Steve Henry, Bruce Lunsford, and Jody Richards. In the most recent polls, Beshear has held a modest lead, followed by Lunsford, Henry, and then Richards; however, the four have traded the lead throughout the campaign, and none have even come close to achieving majority support. If no candidate reaches 40% of the vote, a runoff will occur, forcing the candidates to spend money that could otherwise be banked for the general election.

This creates a peculiar dynamic, in which front-runners try to steal votes, not from each other, but from the other candidates. Imagine Bush and Gore attacking Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader, respectively, rather than debating each other. (OK, so Gore did attack Nader, that's exactly the point!)

The problem is that, too often, political candidates argue that we should vote for them because they are likely to win, rather than because they are the best candidate.

The much bigger problem is that, all too often, this tactic succeeds.

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