Democrats have been optimistic about the chance that Harold Ford gives them to win the seat of retiring Majority Leader Bill Frist, against a divided Republican field. In a state that looks as Red as Tennessee, Democrats would need lightning to strike for a win. With the combination of a moderate-to-conservative candidate from a well-known family, in what looks like a good Democratic year, it looked like the clouds were rumbling - but the Hotline throws some cold water on that idea:
June 15, 2006
The Big Number: 38
That's the percentage of Tennesseans who know, and have an unfavorable opinion of, Rep. Harold Ford (D) in the latest Zogby poll. 51% of the state views the Sen candidate favorably, which means that while a much higher percentage of Volunteers know the guy, he's already very well-defined, especially considering his opponents. Ex-Rep. Van Hilleary (R) (54% Fav, 18% unfav), ex-Rep. Ed Bryant (R) (44%-12%) and ex-Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker (R) (52%-17%) are all less well-known, and therefore have higher potential upsides than Ford.
The Zogby poll also shows Ford trailing all three GOPers -- Corker by a margin of 46%-41%, Hilleary by a 43%-41% score and Bryant by a few 10ths of a percent, but for rounding purposes we'll call it 42%-42%. Notice that the GOPers' leads are all within the margin of error (+/- 4.5%), and it should be pointed out that Ford is crushing all three GOPers among indies. Those caveats aside, what is Ford’s ultimate ceiling? Does he need a perfect campaign to nab 51%?
Posted at 10:24 AM
The Hotline nails this. Ford's much better-known - and much more widely disliked - than a typical House member. With 38% of Tennessee voters already holding a negative opinion of him, he's going to have to spend a lot of money to convince people to reconsider. And there are simply too many competitive Senate races for big donors to give him much to work with. If these numbers are accurate, you can stick a fork in Ford.
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