I’m hearing that Casey Cagle’s money is coming on strong. Specifically, I’m hearing that Casey raised $100,000.00 at one event. That’s very well done.
Be sure to check the comments in some of the earlier posts on Cagle and Reed. The comments are exploding. Several people make some very good points. And I will give them this: no one is cold on Ralph Reed. Some feel betrayed, some feel like Reed was never really an “Evangelical Conservative” and some feel like Reed led the party to bigger and better things and we should stick by him now.
The question I have is what do people outside the party really feel about Reed. Seriously. If you are reading this you are probably not a “typical” voter — one who only pays attention in November. What do those folks know about Reed? My suspicion is that if Cagle polling shows these voters don’t have a strong knowledge of Reed, Cagle will (and it’d be politically smart) keep driving the Reed negatives to make the case to primary voters that Reed would be unelectable in the general election.
At the same time, Cagle has a delicate balancing act. In addition to driving Reed’s negatives up, he must also build his positives. As the Democrats learned this past year, no one wants to vote against someone, they want to vote for someone. Cagle is helped by a national media that deeply dislikes Reed and will, itself, try to off Reed. Cagle must make sure to keep his hands as clean as possible. Politically history shows that driving up an opponent’s negatives usually drives up your own negatives.
Reed on the other hand has a different task — and to some degree a harder task. People who deeply hate (dislike if “hate” is too strong a word for you) someone, are energized to go vote against that person. Reed is going to have to find a field of Reed partisans — people who really like Reed — to go out and (1) beat the bushes for him and (2) persuade lukewarm primary voters that the negatives are unfair. The Reed game is a whole different ball game. The advantage Reed is suppose to have (and we’ll know in a few weeks if it materializes) is money to drown out the anti-Reed message. And I’m betting it will take Reed more energy than Cagle to pull an undecided voter his way.
For political junkies, the Georgia Lieutenant Governor’s race will be fun to watch. It has all the dynamics of political intrigue, personality, and message grid making you could hope for. One side will try to personalize the race and the other will try to keep it all issues and make sure the focus is not on the candidate. Whichever side finds the right balance between personality and issues will probably win.
At this juncture, I’ll cap off the race with this:
Reed has an advantage in that he already has name identification and has (at least if you buy the rumors) a large bucket of cash. Reed’s biggest disadvantage right now is also his name identification, but that could be offset by cash.
Cagle’s biggest advantage, I think, is his lack of name identification. There are already connotations established for Ralph Reed that Casey Cagle does not have. That means, to me, that Cagle has a lot more give and take among the base. The die hards already know Reed and are mostly either for him or against him already (but, I think can still be persuaded either way). Cagle most likely will have more pull in the poll of undecided Georgia GOP primary voters. His disadvantage: right now it is the perception that this is Ralph Reed’s race to lose (and the unconfirmed suspicion that Cagle will be outspent). It also does not help that the media, including your’s truly, talks about this race in terms of Reed winning or losing. Sure, we have a choice, but this is the most interesting and compelling angle until Cagle decides to change it, but something tells me Cagle really doesn’t want to change the angle yet.
We’ll know the money issue in a couple of weeks. The rest of the race, well, we still have a year and things can change.