Friday, October 1, 2010

Camp Cahill's Chaos Continues

hmmm - the title of this post sounds like something Howard Cosell may have said...

Tim Cahill's campaign continues its implosion. This is like an accident where the cars continue to pile up - even when you think it can't get much worse.

This morning Lt. Gubernatorial candidate and Cahill running mate Paul Loscocco unexpectedly withdrew from the race and very publicly endorsed Charlie Baker. Loscocco emphasized that Cahill's candidacy was only helping Deval Patrick by splitting the considerable anti-Patrick sentiment.

Cahill dashed any speculation that he was leaving the race and vowed to fight it out until the end. The $750,000 in state matching campaign funds that he received this week will help him stick around for the next 31 days.

I think it is interesting gaming the motivation that compels Cahill to stay in the race after the departure of Loscocco, Cahill's campaign manager, and a top campaign strategist. I see several possible scenarios unfolding:

Scenario I - Cahill fights to the bitter end and runs equally hard at both Patrick and Baker in terms of advertising and message. This keeps him viable if he decides to launch another statewide run in 2012 or 2014. 40%

Scenario II - Cahill runs almost exclusively against Baker reprising Christy Mihos' campaign in 2006. This would be payback for the Republican Governors Association's ad campaign that has raised Cahill's negatives. However, it would damage his credibility as a truly independent outsider. 50%

Scenario III - Cahill drops out of the race prior to Nov. 2 possibly endorsing Patrick. Republicans would then be able to yell "I told you he was a straw - the fix is in!" 10%

Scenario IV - Cahill drops out and endorses Baker (NOT Happenin'!) 0%

The not-so-stealth attempt by Baker and his allies to knock Cahill out of this race has not succeeded, but it has seriously compromised his candidacy. Today may be seen as one of those moments where even the most optimistic Cahill supporters became convinced that it simply is not going to happen this year.

This is truly a shot in the arm for the somewhat underperforming Baker candidacy and will be keeping Patrick's advisers up at night since this may turn it into the two-person race that could be devastating to Deval's hopes of a second term. I have noted that Patrick's campaign is calling this a backroom deal and is openly courting Cahill voters - which included the Governor doing some impromptu bar tending in Cahill's hometown of Quincy today.

The most recent Rasmussen poll has Patrick up by about six points in the three way race (sorry Jill Stein, but you won't get any more than 2 or 3 points at the end of the day). Cahill supporters seem evenly divided among the top two candidates if asked what they would do if they had to choose Patrick or Baker.

However, my political instincts tell me that Charlie would benefit more than Deval from any drop in Cahill's support. These are disillusioned voters who are not happy with the status quo and Baker would be the only other candidate representing change. Of course some are die-hard Democrats who would not vote for a Republican and some will not vote at all without Cahill as an option. But it seems that both Baker and Patrick are viewing it this way - at least their campaigns are behaving as such.

Fasten your seat belts and if the campaign keeps up like this, tighten your straitjacket!


The Prof

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