The most dangerous thing for a candidate viewed as inevitable, is to have the halo of inevitability removed. Often times, like a balloon popping, once that one rationale for a candidacy ceases to exist, people begin asking themselves why they would vote for such a person, and can’t come up with an answer.
Given that Angus King has built his campaign entirely around despising partisan politics (and nothing else) while being, in the words of the New York Times’ Nate Silver, “reasonably liberal — more so than about one-third of current Democratic senators”, such questions may begin entering people’s minds soon.
Why? The gap between King and Summers is not only closing, it is closing fast:
And this is before the effects from the NRSC’s commitment to Maine have really begun to have an real, full effect.
PPP itself is one of the most respected polling firms in the country, although they themselves have had about a three point house effect for the Democrats this year.
While King is not technically a Democrat, the audience measurement flaws in PPP’s polling may give him that kind of generous bump as well, meaning that the lead he has may be less than the eight points listed above.
In politics, nothing – absolutely nothing – matters more than momentum, and King has been consistently losing momentum from the moment he announced that he was running. He has been treated with kid gloves by the national and state media, allowing him to get away with non-committal answers about very important issues and letting him essentially vamp his way to electoral success.
That “nothing” strategy of simply looking and sounding the part and standing for nothing works great when you are up by twenty or thirty points, but after your lead has evaporated, after your numbers continue to slide, and after your challenger gets within striking distance, that kind of strategy can make you look obtuse and hollow, which can be deadly for your chances.
I’ve said from the very beginning – and been repeatedly laughed at for it – that Charlie Summers has a chance to win this election, and that it is not “wishful thinking”. Some smart campaigning on his part, some vetting of the front-runner, and King’s own mess of a political campaign have contributed to that possibility now becoming very apparent.
Yes, he still has an eight point lead. Yes he may still win. But I never, ever want to be the candidate who lost 20 points in the polls going into October when your opponent and their allies actually start to dump some money into trying to win.
If I were King, I’d be very worried.