2012 Brings Bevy of Bumbling Candidates
It took a catastrophic, unforced error from a major U.S. Senate nominee to prove the point: In 2012, candidate quality matters - a lot.
After three consecutive wave elections - the Democratic landslides of 2006 and 2008 and the Republican revolution of 2010 - both parties have rapidly remembered that they can’t always count on a national tide to sweep their candidates into office. In those cycles, an array of sub-par candidates managed to win largely on the strength of their party label, from lackluster campaigners like Virginia Democrat Jim Webb to offbeat ideologues like Kentucky Republican Rand Paul.
On both sides, political missteps and candidate defects have reshaped the map in surprising ways. The most astounding example came this week, when Missouri Rep. Todd Akin threw his Senate candidacy into a state of crisis by suggesting that rape victims can stop themselves from becoming pregnant.Now, with 11 weeks to Election Day, Republican and Democratic strategists have begun to reflect on the reality that these races really might come down to the tactics and performance of individual candidates. And Republicans are starting to fume that the party may have jeopardized a historic opportunity.