Together we will stand up for Western New York values, focusing on repealing Obamacare, and fighting Martha Robertson’s extreme liberal, big-government agenda. Fighting for jobs and our future… — Tom Reed March 31 fundraising appeal.
It is very hard to unseat an incumbent legislator; in recent contests for the House, the incumbent has won more than nine times in ten. In NY-23, Tom Reed has the additional advantage of being a Republican in a district where Republicans outnumber Democrats. Further, many votes are not in play because those voters have already made up their minds and are unlikely to change whatever happens. What can Martha do to succeed?
Martha may hope to win by doing a little better than Nate Shinagawa did in 2012, I believe that is a loosing strategy:
- If Tom was complaisant in 2012, he is unlikely to repeat that mistake.
- Tom has nearly unlimited time for campaigning which he started long ago.
- Tom has put Martha on the defensive more than once already with negative ads.
- Martha is vulnerable to charges that she is an Ithaca radical.
- Martha’s support the SAFE act won’t help and may hurt.
- As with Nate, Tom is unlikely to agree to timely debates.
- Tom can lean left, and is already doing so (most of his supporters will understand it’s just for the election).
To win, Martha needs a heavy turnout of her supporters or a weak turnout of Reed’s supporters. While some of Reed’s tea party constituency may stay home, most will probably vote for Reed if only on the Conservative line. However disgruntled with Tom, they are unlikely to vote for Martha. However there are a number of issues that Martha might exploit to put Tom on the defensive:
- Social Security and Medicare
- Unemployment benefits
- Women’s issues
Retirees know the importance of Social Security; concerned retirees are significant funders of Martha’s campaign. Those approaching retirement need to be reassured that Social Security will be there for them and will not be cut. As much as Tom tirelessly threatens to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits to finance tax cuts for the rich without explaining how future retirees would get by without it, Martha should repeatedly affirm that Social Security need not and should not be cut. Martha must effectively counter Tom’s false claim that America can’t afford Social Security and Medicare.
The unemployed and those qualifying for SNAP struggling to get by must see it worthwhile to vote. Tom’s argument that cutting off benefits helps the hungry is transparently false.
Voters must realize that Obamacare is a good thing. Tom’s arguments against Obamacare are tired and weak–I think this could be a winning issue for Martha as more and more benefit from Obamacare.
Youth are a natural consistency for Democrats. Jobs and student loans may be significant issues.
Martha needs to relate to Republican women so that they vote for her even if their spouses don’t. Tom is clearly aware of this prospect. Martha needs to act to expose Tom’s gestures towards women as inadequate.
While the odds are against her, I believe Martha can win if she can mobilize those constituencies–seniors, women, youth–which are inclined to support her.
© William Hungerford – April 2014