Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Fixing the Fix

Chris Cillizza at "The Fix," a Washington Post-based blog, just released his most recent gubernatorial race election rankings, and back into the Top 10 by popular demand is the Wisconsin race.

Cillizza ranks races based upon the likelihood that the office in question will change party hands this November.

According to his rankings this week, Wisconsin dropped from 11th to 9th because after the last ranking, "we heard quite a bit of grumbling from Republicans who insist that Gov. Jim Doyle (D) is far from out of the woods."

This move highlights a GOP strategy to increase the number of votes against Doyle by hyping the perception that his re-election bid is on the ropes. After all, voters are more likely to show up and pull the lever against an incumbent who's said to be in trouble than they are one who is solidly in the lead.

And while the Fix rankings are mostly symbolic, they do provide ammunition for needy campaigns. For instance, when the Wisconsin gubernatorial race was ranked 5th by Cillizza back in April, the Green Team jumped all over it, jubilantly
announcing: "Jim Doyle recently earned a top distinction – being the most vulnerable incumbent governor in the nation, according to washingtonpost.com blogger Chris Cillizza."

It's somewhat surprising that Cillizza, who makes a living off analyzing political moves, would not only fail to recognize (or at least acknowledge) this blatant political move, but also go ahead and adjust his rankings in spite of there being no actual evidence to justify the adjustment.

In fact, the actual evidence points the opposite way, which led Cillizza to qualify the new ranking with this: "Recent polling suggests, however, that Doyle is weathering the storm. He had a 9-point lead in a recent independent poll and, as importantly, 51 percent felt favorably toward him compared with 37 percent who felt unfavorably."

In the end, the rankings will mean little if anything for the outcome of the race. But it does highlight a GOP in Wisconsin that's desperate to take (and make) any good news it can get.

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