John Fund has an interesting analysis of Wednesday night’s California recall debate. He thinks Bustamante was the loser because Huffington and Camejo strengthened their standing with his base. While I think it’s true that they were likely more exciting to the extreme left, I’m betting most of them will be rational and vote for the moderate-left Bustamante, who actually has a chance to win.
Indeed, Fund thinks this will be the case on the other side. He seems to be the only major observer who sees a softening in McClintock’s stance:
Mr. McClintock has already signaled his understanding that this may not be the year for him to win statewide. In a revealing Sept. 10 interview on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity & Colmes” he predicted that “in the closing days of the campaign, support is going to migrate from one column to another. And I think that if the momentum continues in my direction, we’re going to see that migration in my favor. If it doesn’t, we’ll see that migration in Arnold’s favor. That’s up to the voters.”
When pressed if this meant he might pull out, he told interviewer Alan Colmes, “If I’m not making any more progress over the next four weeks, I would have no doubt that many of my voters are going to migrate to Arnold. And similarly, if I am showing that momentum you will see the other side happen.” That formulation gives Mr. McClintock an out. Technically, he cannot drop out of the race; his name will remain on the ballot. But he could stay in the race and still, as Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee puts it, “obliquely defer” to Mr. Schwarzenegger. If he doesn’t pick up postdebate momentum in the polls, he risks losing much of his support anyway. A Chamber of Commerce poll earlier this month asked McClintock voters what they would do if their man appeared unlikely to win on Oct. 7. By 67% to 23% they said they would vote for someone else, usually Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Interesting. This would be smart for him politically but he seems determined to stay in the race to me.