Voters in Arizona’s 8th congressional district chose Democrat Ron Barber to replace Gabby Giffords, beating Republican Jesse Kelly 52-46. What, if anything, does this mean?
A SIX-POINT VICTORY IN A LEAN-GOP DISTRICT
This race was conducted in Gifford’s old district, which has been redrawn in reapportionment. The old district had a seven-point GOP voter registration advantage. George W. Bush won it with 54 percent of the vote in 2004, while John McCain won it with 52 percent in 2008 (though aided by his hometown status). In 2010, Jan Brewer got 55 percent of the vote, while Giffords couldn’t muster 50 percent that year (she won with 49 percent in a multi-candidate field).
Barber faces a decidedly easier general election battle this November in the newly drawn district. Not only is it five points more Democratic, but Barber overperformed in the parts of the district he keeps this November. His reelection looks safe.
Meanwhile, there are 84 incumbent Republicans in seats more Democratic than this one.
MONEY WASN’T EVERYTHING
Republicans: $ 1.4 million
NRCC: $ 878K
Crossroads: $ 199K
AZ GOP Party: $ 126K
Citizens United VF: $ 100:
American Action Network: $ 97K
FreedomWorks: $ 30K
Democrats: $ 922K
House Majority PAC: $ 462K
DCCC: $ 460K
Lesson? They’ll outspend us. It’s what they’ll do. They can’t win on ideology or the issues, so they’ll try to buy elections. As long as we can keep it close and have enough money to get our message out, we can compete and win. Being outspent 3-2? Okay. Being outspent 10 or 20-1 (like in Wisconsin)? That would be a problem.
SPEAKING OF MESSAGES …
Democratic ads hit the Republican hard for his support of the Ryan budget that would privatize Social Security and destroy Medicare.
Republicans ran the typical scaremongering over Obamacare, gas prices and evil Nancy Pelosi:
Despite the fact that they had more money to push their message, we only needed enough money to make sure voters heard ours. The election results make clear which message won.
For those looking for signs that Arizona will be a battleground in 2012, this certainly points in that direction. Remember, this was a 52-46 McCain district. Barber won it by exactly the same margin—a 12-point shift. President Barack Obama lost the state by just nine points in 2008 (and Mitt Romney won’t have hometown advantages). You can do the math.