Being Balanced Means Being Relevant

The central topic of Ed Fitzpatrick’s Sunday column is the perceived potential snub of Democrat gubernatorial candidate Frank Caprio by President Obama. As I said on WRNI’s Political Roundtable, to the extent that Obama is seen as favoring Lincoln Chafee, he may help Republican John Robitaille by highlighting Linc’s liberalism, and if Obama endorses Caprio, he may help Robitaille by repelling some of those right-of-center Rhode Islanders who still see Caprio as a Republican in Democrat clothing.
But there’s a more fundamental point about Rhode Island politics to be made based on Fitzpatrick’s essay:

On Monday, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele will be in Rhode Island in the morning.
U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., will be here at lunchtime.
And President Obama will arrive in the afternoon.
“That’s the trifecta,” said former Brown University political science Prof. Darrell M. West, who now works at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. “The only person missing is Sarah Palin.” …
West said he can’t recall the last time so many national political figures were in Rhode Island on a single day. “It’s hard to attract national leaders to Rhode Island,” he said. “To get three major people in one day is extraordinary.” …
In any case, one thing is for certain: Rhode Island is about to become the focus of national political attention. “This is a once-in-a-decade happening,” West said. “This is prime time in Rhode Island.”

The only reason Rhode Island is typically treated as politically irrelevant is that our votes are so predictable. If our public offices were more broadly contested, then the political machine would turn the spotlight on us more often. More importantly, though, office holders would govern better were they under constant threat of being replaced — as politicians are supposed to be, under our system.
The same goes for identity groups and other reliable constituencies. Inner city blacks, for instance, would benefit more from their votes were they not so reliably for Democrats, across the country. Policy-based voting blocs — such as pro-lifers — should also be included, although they’ve arguably got the advantage that theirs is a specific issue and ideology that can be measured against voting records.

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OldTimeLefty
10 years ago

From this blog

The only reason Rhode Island is typically treated as politically irrelevant is that our votes are so predictable. If our public offices were more broadly contested, then the political machine would turn the spotlight on us more often.

And what is the reason for this predictability? This blog seems to want to blame the electorate for its choices when it should be looking at the policies and posturing of the Republican Party. “Your faults, dear Republicans, lie not in the stars, but in yourselves.”

Patrick
Patrick
10 years ago

This is exactly why the National GOP is missing the boat. They pour all kinds of money into other states and other national races. But RI’s House and Senate seats count for as much as any other state’s, yet the cost to elect a Republican in RI is less than in many other states. It wouldn’t take much for the GOP to come in and back a good Republican candidate in a race like for Loughlin or to take on Whitehouse in a couple years.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
10 years ago

Perhaps a comparison with Massachusetts might shed some light. Massachusetts “white population” has been declining at 1% a year, for about 20 years. Population has remained stable because of immigrants (I believe this number holds true for RI, but I haven’t seen it in print). This means about 20% of the reliable voters have left and their replacements can’t vote. This must have changed the demographics of the voters. RI being smaller differs. 21% of RI voters draw their paycheck from the government (this is in line with the national average), consequently, they are unionized. I expect this makes them relable Democrats.
Still, the demographics are changing. I wonder if this explains Scott Brown.

Scott
Scott
10 years ago

Martha Coakley explains Scott Brown.

AlexShort
AlexShort
8 years ago

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