Politics

Alison, I Know This World Is Killing You

There’s a classic Simpsons episode called “Homer’s Enemy” where we’re introduced to a new Springfield Nuclear Power Plant co-worker named Frank Grimes. He resents Homer — not only because Homer insists on calling him “Grimey” — but also because he can’t believe someone so inept and lazy as Homer could lead such a charmed life.

What we are witnessing in Kentucky, it seems, is sort of a “reverse Grimey” —  where the notion someone so unprepared could become a U.S. Senator feels as unsettling and unlikely as Homer’s promotion to safety inspector.

In case you missed it, during an editorial board interview, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, refused multiple times to say whether or not she voted for Barack Obama.

But it’s not just what she didn’t say, but how she didn’t say it that made her look so bad. Her prevarication was so pathetic and transparent that it prompted Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough to advise, “Don’t treat us like we’re stupid” — and Meet the Press host Chuck Todd to conclude: “I think she disqualified herself.”

Grimes has spent this entire campaign dodging similar questions and spouting similar sound bites (you gotta love the line about the “sanctity of the ballot box”). But this one resonates because a). it’s on video, and b). she couldn’t escape, but instead, was forced to sit there and deny Obama thrice.

The fact that a recent poll showed Grimes leading might, ironically, have made her susceptible to this — by making this race feel relevant (read newsworthy) again.

At least, that’s my theory. Who knows why some things go viral and others don’t.

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On a somewhat related note, my column for The Week yesterday dealt with the interesting fact that Mitch McConnell is essentially tied with Grimes amongst women voters.

I’ve received lots of feedback, as you might imagine. Some readers point out that the gender gap only applies to non-white women; others note that unmarried, college-educated women are the GOP’s big problem — that they do just fine with married women.

We can try to parse this to death, but why not consider how potent this issue has been? For example, in a 2013 Washington Post survey that came out just before the narrowly-decided gubernatorial election in Virginia last November, the Republican candidate was actually winning the male vote — but, among women, was trailing the Democrat “by 24 points — 58 percent to 34 percent.”

Interestingly, the Democrat running in Virginia was a man (now-Gov. Terry McAuliffe) who left his wife’s bedside to do politics while she gave birth. Aside from Sen. Claire McCaskill, female candidates haven’t typically been the beneficiaries of the “war on women’s” ability to hurt male Republicans.

Could it be that female Democratic candidates are ironically the least likely to be able to exploit the gender gap? According to one strategist, that might be the case:

Read the whole piece here.