I break blogging silence because the Weiland campaign has made me part of a press release for something I wrote to Denise Ross of the Mitchell Daily Republic. You can read Denise's article here. Also, my thoughts on the entire South Dakota 2014 election cycle were published a couple weeks ago in my regular Pierre Capital Journal column. Read that column here.
The Weiland people are picking up on one quote from the Mitchell DR article: "Rounds is in trouble," said Jon Schaff, political science professor at Northern State University in Aberdeen. "It is not good that now in multiple polls we have 55 to 60 percent of voters supporting someone other than Mike Rounds."
Denise asked me for comments on Rounds not attending every debate and then asked for general thoughts about the race, which produced that last quote. As Denise and I communicated via email I have the entirety of what I told Denise verbatim. Let me produce the entire email here. I mean this as no criticism of Denise, who is a very good reporter and has always fairly reported my words. Conversations with reporters are usually long and free ranging and they only use a line or two from the whole conversation. They obviously can't reproduce everything for what is usually a 750-1000 word article. I also mean this as no criticism of the Weiland campaign. While I am not thrilled about being part of a campaign press release I did say what is in the release and obviously a published news article is fair game. I just think in this case, since what I have said has been "politicized", full context is in order. Note that the main question was on debates, which is why that subject dominates points 1-5. Here is the email, typos and all. I stand by everything in the email. Except the typos.
Very busy so sorry that this will merely be a quick email.
- First, note that this has also become an issue in Colorado with Mark Udall refusing all televised debates.
- Candidates in the lead tend to avoid debates. Debates can serve as “game changers” so the front runner profits from maintaining the status quo.
- Whoever is behind always complains that there aren’t enough debates. That’s because they need the “game changing moment.”
- The question is how many is “enough” debates. It’s worth noting that Rounds has agree to infinitely more debates than Stephanie Herseth Sandlin in 2006 and 2008 and Tim Johnson in 2008 because, as I recall, they didn’t debate at all. Also, debates have diminishing returns. After multiple debates there really isn’t much left for voters to learn (see the 2012 Republican primary season when debates become tired repetitions of talking points we’d heard 15 times). Rounds has agree to four (don’t know how many are televised). Since presidential candidates only do three debates, one might think that four is enough.
- But it is all in the perception. Rounds has to point out how many times he has debated and maybe compare to other races. Weiland (who I think has Rounds on the run) can use this as another bludgeon against Rounds as being “out of touch”.
- Rounds is in trouble. He is relying on Pressler and Weiland splitting the non-Rounds vote. It is not good that now in multiple polls have 55-60% of voters supporting someone other than Mike Rounds. The Democrats have won the EB-5 debate and will continue to beat Rounds with this. Rounds will likely have to get aggressive. We’ll see if Kristi Noem and John Thune come to his rescue. I’d be interested if those to politicians agree to campaign with Rounds or appear in ads with him. Weiland has run an almost perfect campaign and Rounds will have to work hard to win, which I still think he will.