Elections are not Horseshoes

The most optimistic supporters of Barbara Buono’s gubernatorial campaign are quick to point out that the gap between the challenger and the governor in the poll numbers is closing. Let’s assume that this gap continues to get smaller and that Buono loses the election by a small margin, say two percent.

Some Buono supporters will be mildly disappointed, but nevertheless ecstatic. Disappointed because their candidate lost, but ecstatic that she almost toppled the most popular politician in America. Buono’s campaign staff will move on and put this statistical “upset” on their résumés as they seek jobs for the 2014 campaigns.

There’s a saying that goes, “coming close only gets you points in horseshoes and thermonuclear war.”

Don’t ever assume that a close and underwhelming victory by Chris Christie will humble him. Remember when his mentor, George W Bush lost the 2000 election? Despite the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court decided to disenfranchise Florida voters and the fact that Al Gore won the popular vote, upon taking office Bush acted as if he had a mandate to promote the conservative agenda. Christie will do the same if our election is close. He’ll use state resources in court to fight the anticipated override of his veto of marriage equality. He’ll continue to throw lucrative state contracts to his cronies. And he’ll move further to the right on disenfranchising the poor and middle class in order to enhance his presidential ambitions.

A close loss for Buono is still a loss. Not only for her, but also for the people of New Jersey. That’s why it is critically important to pull off the electoral upset of the decade. Her own party is not helping her, so it’s up to the people to pull out all the stops to send Chris Christie back to his Mendham mansion permanently.

Despite the numerous missteps of Buono’s campaign staff, it’s time for anyone who gives a damn about this state to volunteer for the campaign. You hate making phone calls? Well, do you hate making phone calls more than you hate what Christie is doing to your state? You can’t afford to contribute to the campaign? Well, if you’re poor or in the middle class, the dollars that you don’t contribute will come back to bite you as higher fees and fewer services if Christie is re-elected.

Bush “won” in a close election, and the nation is still trying to recover from the mis-steps and damage he precipitated. A second Christie term will result in similar damage to the state – social, economic, and political – and it will take years to recover. A close election is not good enough. Let’s not make the same mistake twice.

Comments (4)

  1. Rosi Efthim

    to make to hopeless Dems, busy Dems, lazy Dems and unaffiliateds who haven’t thought this through or can’t imagine this election’s outcome will matter to them.

  2. ken bank

    At least when it comes to politics. While winning is better than losing, a close loss is a whole lot better than a landslide. First of all, a close loss will at least ensure Dems retain control of the Legislature, which I believe is more important regardless of who becomes Governor. A close loss may not humble Christie, but it will neuter him. A close loss in his home state means Christie can no longer be considered a top tier presidential contender. He can kiss his presidential ambitions good-bye, which also means he won’t have to worry about pandering to Iowa and New Hampshire GOP voters in 2016.

    My point is that it may be counter-productive to imply that if polls show BB has no chance of winning we might as well give up. There are legislative and other important races that must be won, and the more Dems GOTV the better chances of winning those races, even assuming BB is a loser. In fact, I would suggest that as we get closer to November and BB is still so far behind that even at warp speed she can’t catch up, she should do what other candidates have done in similar situations and focus on campaigning with/for other candidates who have close races. That’s what Bob Dole did in 1076 when he realized there was no chance of beating Clinton. The result was that the GOP was barely ablt to hang on to controlling Congress. But I agree we need to exert every effort to keep this race as close as possible and ensure that even if Christie wins he’ll still have to deal with a Democratic Legislature.

  3. ken bank

    This is the campaign that can’t shoot straight. Very tough to argue for a campaign that’s being steered like the Costa Concordia, and a candidate whose prospects are beginning to look like a pork chop salesman at a kosher butcher’s convention. Which makes it even more imperative that Dems need to work as hard as they can to ensure Dems GOTV and win the races that are competitve, including Marie Corfield, as well as Dem incumbents who do have credible challengers.

  4. D36Dem

    In 1990 Christie Whitman lost to Bill Bradley in a close election for US Senate.

    This had the dual effect of torpedoing Bradley’s presidental aspirations and establishing Whitman as a bona fide state-wide candidate.

    If Buono loses in a close election, she will be the front runner in 2017.  Much like Jim McGreevey was in 2001 after narrowing losing to Whitman in 1997.


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