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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Olson Beats Parsley: A Partisan Ponders

Regular readers will note that I laid odds on the District 8 House race (and I was right!) but I avoided doing the same for the District 8 Senate race. I was as much in the tank for Dem House candidates Mitch Fargen and Gerry Lange as I was for Dem Senate candidate Scott Parsley. But I was also knocking on doors and working on Scott's website. And readers, you know I wanted to beat Russ. I've wanted to beat him since he used big money and CreditSoup marketing to beat Gerry back in 2006. So personally and politically, I had a different sort of investment in the Senate race. It was hard enough to come up with even remotely objective odds on the House race. I didn't want to try on the Senate race.

But now it's over. The guy I backed got beat. I'm disappointed, but I'm not going to move to District 7. I'm not going to accuse 55% of my neighbors of "a moment of self-destructive insanity" or brand the winner a "clearly immoral leader." That kind of talk is for whiners who can't face reality.

So help me face reality. Readers, voters, local pundits, you tell me: How did Russ Olson beat Scott Parsley?

I have a number of theories; the problem is, none of them square with all that happened in District 8 last night:
  1. District 8 doesn't like Dems: Nope. District 8 elected two Dems to the House. Three out of four counties voted for Obama over McCain. Sanborn County has some hard red precincts, but most of our chunk of Highway 34 is big blue.
  2. The voters wanted experience: That doesn't explain the voters giving 26-year-old Mitch Fargen the most votes for House.
  3. Scott didn't campaign hard enough. We knocked on every town door in the district, except for maybe Pat Prostrollo's and few others we knew we probably could sway.
  4. Scott campaigned too hard. Mitch Fargen hit the doors and ads and parades as hard as Parsley, and he won. Russ's advertising paid Jon Hunter's utilities for the rest of the year.
  5. Russ had a better Madison advantage. Tempting to say the Chamber/LAIC put Russ over the top, but that's not it. Sure, Russ won Ward 1, the bigger richer part of Madison, but Scott won Wards 2 and 3. Scott won 3 other precincts, around Ramona, Carthage, and Canova, but Russ won majorities everywhere else. And the Madison advantage didn't save Jerry Johnson, who won Lake County but came in third everywhere else.
  6. More voters need to read the Madville Times. True! but not a factor. ;-)
  7. Money talks. Plausible, but not perfect. Russ and Mitch were the big District 8 spenders. They both came out on top. But Gerry L. made it on less money that Jerry J. spent (at least according to the pre-general filings).
The only explanation that seems to hold water may be the obvious: Russ is just a great candidate, a great guy, and everybody likes him... and he just happens to be an incumbent (sort of). Scott's a great candidate, a great guy, and generally liked as well, but maybe faced with two great guys, 55% of voters took the conservative position and stuck with the status quo (sort of).

So what do you think, neighbors? You be the pundit! Why did the District 8 Senate race go the way it did?


  1. Personality would be a start. Maybe Scott could work on his. It really helps to have one. If you noticed, Jerry Johnson also lost, and he also does not have a personality. Just my opinion Corey.

  2. I think you clearly answered your own questions by thinking out loud through your computer keys. Russell is very personable, well-liked and crosses party lines easily. The other key is Moody County, where Russ grew up. Ask Jerry Johnson what Moody County means to a District 8 win. Scott Parsley needs to take the House path first. You have to walk before you can run. Now, please be nice to Russell for awhile.

  3. "Be nice to Russ"? But then what would I blog about? ;-)

  4. i'm baffled as anyone. Scott should have one, he was clearly the better man

  5. rather, he should have won

  6. Russ had big signs you couldn't ignore (even if you wanted to): simple name recognition. Everybody tosses the junk mail.

  7. Also, Scott's green and white signs were kind of bla. Jazz it up next time.

  8. I was cleary disapointed. I hope Scott gives it another go!

  9. Scott's got a great political future and he will be wonderful once he gets elected to something, but taking on an incumbent who had enought political strength to knock off Gerry Lange two years ago was not a smart decision for your first attempt. Best advice, try the house in two years.

  10. Cory, my daughter and son-in-law live in Madison and they got a call after 9PM on election eve from someone asking them to vote for Scott. They had already gone to bed because have to get up early for work. My daughter said it irritated her husband so much he said he wouldn't vote for Scott.

    Take it for what it's worth. The story of how one blue collar guy made up his mind.


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