I've been bemused by all the talk the past few weeks about the possibility that Ashley Judd might challenge Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for the U.S. Senate. Bemused not just that she's thinking about it and is within 4 points of Sen. McConnell in a poll, but that Team McConnell has been getting all heeby-jebby about it, to the point of commissioning and releasing a poll of their own about how Ms. Judd's popularity drops 20 points when people know her positions on issues.
To be clear, Ashley Judd is a bright woman with a degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. And I know she's a political activist. And is 8th generation Kentucky. And I personally like many of her positions that I've heard. But it would just be nice if she actually lived in Kentucky and had more experience than making speeches periodically. I like to think that being a U.S. Senator is important enough that it's something you work up to.
(I know there have been a lot of exceptions to that. Some with good results, some not. We just barely survived Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in California. Al Franken -- also a Harvard graduate -- didn't have any elected experience, though at least he put himself on the line writing several political-based books and doing a daily political opinion radio talk show for three years, among other things. He's gotten good marks thus far.)
But that's not the main thing that I have found whimsical. After all, If Ashley Judd wants to run and can win, more power to her, and I hope she'd do a wonderful job. My two main bemusements are otherwise --
First, I find it hilarious (at least according to Mr. McConnell's polls, which might be meaningless) that Ms. Judd's popularity dropped precipitously after people were told first about her stance on issues. I mean, honestly, if you don't know a person's positions, why in the world are you saying you're "for" them?! Just because they're skilled at reading words other people wrote for them, and they have great hair and nice cheekbones? And you know their name? The poll found that (accurate or not) Ms. Judd's rating went down when respondents were told that her grandmother had once referred to her as a "Hollywood liberal." Seriously? People in Kentucky didn't know that Ashley Judd was from Hollywood and a liberal? And they're allowed to vote and drive cars?
The other thing I found bizarre is that Mitch McConnell's team actually released the results of the poll. Now, I suppose that they wanted to hit their opponent hard and early and drive her from the race, given how high her ratings were. But...why??? If in fact Ashley Judd's poll numbers did plummet by 20 points the more people knew about her -- why would you want to drive that person from the race??! Especially this early. Wouldn't you want to urge her to run, and get the nomination -- and then slam her with all the negatives that your own polls show? That's the strategy that worked for Sen. Clair McCaskill (D-MO) when she wanted to run against Todd Akin, did so, and won re-election when most experts had previously assumed she would lose.
Either the poll numbers that Mitch McConnell's team came up with are suspect. Or they might have just done something really stupid.
Whether it's more stupid than voters of Kentucky supporting a candidate they knew nothing about, that's another matter entirely.
Then again, the people in Kentucky must seemingly really hate Mitch McConnell.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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