Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Allen's Shriveling Advantages

A few months ago, Sen. George Allen was viewed by many to be a lock to hold his seat as Virginia’s junior senator. Then came the Bush administration’s handling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. After that Allen’s protege Jerry Kilgore lost badly in November. Suddenly, or so it seems, a new light has been cast on Allen’s reelection prospects. A Survey USA tracking poll shows his approval rating has dipped five points in the last month.
What happened to the lock?

It never existed, except in the minds of Republican propagandists trying to discourage competition.

Meanwhile, Allen is the same affable, go-along-to-get-along rightwing senator he’s been all along. Yet, with the Bush administration spinning out of control, Allen’s role as a Bush/Cheney cheerleader probably won’t be much of a plus with most Virginia voters. Yes, with bad vibes all around him, Allen is likely to be campaigning this time around on his own personality and record, for what that’s worth.

Looking back on it, in a way he's never been tested. In statewide elections Allen defeated Mary Sue Terry and Chuck Robb; in both instances he benefited from having opponents whose political careers had peaked and begun to ebb. Allen was the fresher face. This election year that won't be the case. With two candidates new to most voters vying for the chance to unseat the incumbent having emerged -- James Webb and Harris Miller -- Virginia Democrats, on the heels of Gov. Tim Kaine's convincing victory, are beginning to lick their chops at the prospect of facing Allen in the fall.

The advantages Allen seemed to have not so long ago are shriveling. But, as we've all seen, in politics a lot can happen in a matter of a few months.
Illustration by F. T. Rea (from SLANT Legends 1994)

1 comment:

Dannyboy said...

James Webb really has a shot to beat Allen. Rove is advising all GOP candidates to focus on National Security. Miller can't really compete with Allen on that, giving Allen to chance to focus the entire election on Security. Webb can easily best Allen on Security Credentials. This will force Allen to focus on his Senatorial record, which has been boring at best.