Chris Bowers has a piece up about the Casey/Santorum controversy. It is largely a response to Jerry’s earlier piece from today.

Comparing and contrasting these two articles is a strange experience. And, in a way, it is small example of the bigger problem that is roiling the blogosphere: the debate over whether or not to support the Democratic Party and vote for candidates that are far from progressive.

But, first, let’s stick with the specific issue at hand: the Casey/Pennacchio/Santorum race.

Chris takes a pretty hard shot at Jerry’s analysis, and he makes a compelling case:

The second thing that strikes me not about this passage, but instead about the entire article, is just how wrong it is about Casey’s chances in this election. To say that Casey will probably lose to Santorum is both preposterous and an indication that someone has never really paid attention to election horse-races before. Casey is over 50% in oevery poll against Santorum, even though he is the lower-name ID challenger and lower-name ID challengers receive the bulk of the undecideds in elections. This is called the incumbent rule, and you can read more about it here, and see my research on it here. Further, Casey has actually been pulling further and further ahead of Santorum over the past year according to the Q-poll trendlines. At this point last year Casey was only up five points on Santorum. Now, he is regularly up double-digits. Still further, Casey has over 3.5M in the bank, and has raised more money this cycle than any other Democratic challenger. Yet still further, on election night in 2004, Casey outperformed Kerry by 415,000 votes in Pennsylvania. It is not as though he is a newcomer to this. Thrown in the fact hat Casey’s unfavorables still have not crossed into double-digits despite 60% name ID, and you are looking not just at a Casey victory, but rather at a 15-20% blowout.

I just can’t respect the election analysis of anyone who would argue that Casey does not have an excellent chance to win this race. All evidence points to this being the best chance Democrats have had to defeat in incumbent Republican Senator in decades.

Chris is right. Casey has an excellent chance to beat Santorum. But, what he ignores is that anyone would have a good chance of beating Santorum. The polls have almost nothing to do with how much money Casey has, how good of a organization Casey has, or how well Casey performs as a candidate. It also ignores other polls that show that the more people learn about Casey, the less they are inclined to support him. Jerry took a different analytical tack than Chris.

Jerry focused not on the current polls, or the coffers of the candidates, but on what future polls are likely to look like as voters become better informed about the candidates. The concern is that Casey’s support will erode substantially and perhaps fatally, once voters realize that he is a wingnut.

Chris, Jerry, and I all are supporting Pennacchio. We all know him personally, and his wonderful campaign manager. We are all working for him. We support him because he best represents our values. But after that, our similarities begin to differ. Chris is confident that Casey will win. I am modestly optimistic that he will win. Jerry is pessimistic. Chris and I will vote for Casey in November. Jerry won’t.

And this gets to the next point. Why are Chris and I going to suck it up and vote for Casey? Chris provides his answer in his article. My answer is almost identical. First of all, I don’t look at elections as about my vote, but about how many other votes I can bring in. One vote is not so important. In 2004, my office registered over 100,000 Pennsylvania voters and moved thousands to the polls on election day. I almost didn’t vote on election day because I didn’t think I would have the time. It didn’t matter to me because in the time it would take me vote I probably could have got 10 voters to the polls. There are many important races in Pennsylvania this November. There is the Governor’s race and there are five competitive Congressional races in the Philly suburbs alone. Helping Casey also helps these other candidates and vice-versa.

Secondly, I think subpoena power is more important than any other single issue. I truly believe that we cannot get this country back on track until we have the ability to investigate the criminal activities of the Bush administration. I care very passionately about a variety of other issues. Health care and the environment probably top my list. But, I don’t write much about them because my focus is on handcuffs. Criminality trumps policy. At least, for me, it does.

And when I analyze the Senate races I have a lot of difficulty seeing how we can get to 51 seats without winning in Pennsylvania.

Lastly, I will relish the opportunity to vote against Santorum. I don’t want to miss the chance.

A lot of people are deeply disillusioned with the Democratic Party. I am deeply disillusioned with the entire country. Boston Joe challenged me to come up some kind of miracle solution to turn the Democratic Party into something that can both win power and be worthy of support. I’ll try my best to write that up this weekend. Don’t expect any miracles, but I have been thinking about this topic for two years. And I think we can launch a successful insurgency against the Old Guard Democratic Party. But it won’t be possible until 2008. In the meantime, we should support progressive candidates in the primaries and work our asses off to take back both houses of Congress.

Other options are: apathy, spite, ineffectiveness.

Some people think that the Democrats need to lose another election so that they learn that their current strategy is a failure. I very vehemently believe that we do not have that luxury. It is an abdication of responsibility not to fight against this government with the only tool available to stop it.

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