Monday, September 29, 2008

How Gillibrand Can Lose

Sandy Treadwell opened up another campaign headquarters, this time in Rensselaer County, in the Town of Brunswick. A well-attended affair with good energy, we are told.

Treadwell isn’t getting much help from the traditional media, newspapers and TV news, who are doing their best to try to put the race in the tank for Team Gillibrand. But Treadwell doesn’t need their help. His deep, deep personal checkbook has allowed Treadwell to buy acres and acres of TV and radio time, taking his message right to the voters.

That’s got to be making Team Gillibrand nervous. Add Treadwell’s gigantic media buys to his appeal one on one, and his likeability. Treadwell is in a position to win, especially given the big enrollment advantage the GOP still enjoys in the 20th CD. Here’s rundown on how Gillibrand could be a goner come Election Day:

Her Base is Weak: In 2006, Gillibrand was promising a “new direction in Iraq” and the streets were filled with volunteers working to help her end the war. In 2008, the Pelosi Congress has been exposed as toothless and inefficient, and U.S. boots are still on the ground overseas. That means a lot of wind out of the sails of the Gillibrand re-election effort. Wondering why you are seeing a lot less Gillibrand lawn signs? The continuing war, and Gillibrand’s failure to make good on her promise is a big, big reason. Local Democrat committees hardly have signed on as foot soldiers for Queen Kirsten and the fact that two former employees waged primary battles against endorsed candidates of different county committees doesn’t help either.

Pelosi is a Disaster: Even Democrats can’t muster much enthusiasm for the Pelosi Congress. With an approval rating in the single digits, the Pelosi Pack can pretty much count only on friends and family to back them up. While Bush is the favored whipping boy, Democrats share the blame for rising gas prices, a bizarrely free-falling economy and anxiety about the future. After all, Dems have run Congress for two years. Pelosi and Dem Senate leader Harry Reid

Yes, We Can--Get Gillibrand Beaten: The only person who upstate Democrats are less enthusiastic about than Congress is Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. In terms of Democrats, upstate New York is Clinton country and Obama has failed to spark much interest among Democrats. That’s even as Bush seems to be single-handedly pursuing new records for unpopularity, and giving John McCain a heavier and heavier albatross to carry. When Gillibrand ran in 2006, the then-untouchable Spitzer was at the head of the ticket, giving real momentum to Dems like Gillibrand across the state. There’s no Democratic steamroller at the head of the ticket in 2008, which would could mean the turn out turns out Gillibrand.

She Has No Message: It doesn’t help if you are the member of a do-nothing Congress if you don’t have much of a record. Quick, name three things that Gillibrand has accomplished. Still waiting. And waiting some more. Nope, it doesn’t count if you have to check her website. Gillibrand’s message to voters this year is unbelievably weak: She works hard? That’s the best she could do? Fire your TV consultants, Congresswoman. Especially the one who told you to proclaim that you’ve cut property taxes. First, property taxes are higher and, second, Congress has nothing to do with our property taxes. And saying you’re working to lower gas prices when you are part of the Pelosi Pack who refuse to allow off-shore drilling is probably not a good idea, either. And guess what, her rebuttal ad is even worse.

Palin Power: There’s no shortage of GOP men whose wives voted for Hillary. Get ready for that experience, Democrat men. Regardless of the slings and arrows cast her way by a liberal media, women like Sarah Palin. And they will be voting, in big numbers, across party lines, whatever, for the Alaska governor. Having a real female powerhouse on the national Republican ticket is a first and could mean trouble for Democrats down ticket from the top spot.

Money Doesn’t Talk, It Screams: There are five weeks left to Election Day. Expect Treadwell to really start spending some money. And then spending some more. And more after that.

In short, the same factors that propelled Gillibrand to victory – high Democratic turnout and a strong Democrat ticket, anger against the war, a message of change, ineffective GOP Congressional majority – have been reversed two years later. The indications are growing that Gillibrand could be in real trouble.