1. I think it’s a mixed blessing we have super PAC’s wading into Utah this election cycle.
Yes, super PAC’s can change the tone of elections and make them more negative (witness what happened in the John Swallow/Sean Reyes primary race).
But negative campaigns are also immensely more interesting - especially for the media. They give us something to report on, especially in the dog days of summer when not much is going on.
The old axiom is nobody pays attention to politics until after Labor Day. But, with a super PAC already airing ads hitting Jim Matheson on his vote to not repeal the Affordable Care Act, there’s something to pay attention to during the slow political season - and thank goodness for that.
Yes, it’s a consequence of our hypercharged media culture. The flow of information is constant and the audience demands something new almost around the clock.
But there’s something else. Super PAC’s operating in Utah is sort of a status symbol as well. We finally have been invited to the “cool table” with Ohio, Florida and other states. They’ve been the center of the electoral universe since 2000. We’re finally getting a chance to hang out with the popular kids. I’m sure candidates being targeted by these groups feel differently.
2. I think Mitt Romney needs to tell his supporters to stop talking to the media.
Just read some of the quotes that came out of Romney’s $25,000-a-plate fundraiser in the Hamptons over the weekend. Regardless of your politics, they are incredibly cringe worthy.
The least-helpful quote came from the LA Times, as one woman tried to explain why lower and middle-class voters don’t understand why Barack Obama is bad for the country.
"I don't think the common person is getting it," she said from the passenger seat of a Range Rover stamped with East Hampton beach permits. "Nobody understands why Obama is hurting them.
"We've got the message," she added. "But my college kid, the baby sitters, the nails ladies -- everybody who's got the right to vote -- they don't understand what's going on. I just think if you're lower income -- one, you're not as educated, two, they don't understand how it works, they don't understand how the systems work, they don't understand the impact."
Memo to Romney supporters. You’re not helping. Please stop talking.
3. I think the high heat across the country is something we need to pay attention to.
Let’s not get into a fight over the politics of climate change. You can’t deny it’s hot. Really hot. And, that’s not just anecdotal. Look at this picture:
That’s how many local high temperature records were broken across the United States in June. If it seems like a lot it is - 2,284 in total with another 998 daily high records tied. That’s 110 temperature records tied or broken every day last month.
What’s more, NPR reports the the first five days of July saw 942 records broken and another 273 tied.
Want more numbers? So far this year, more than 23,000 local high temperature records have fallen - which is a 70% increase over last year.
All in all - it’s insanely hot.
4. I think this is how I would handicap the major races in Utah at this moment:
- Gary Herbert – 90% chance of re-election.
His opponent, Peter Cooke, is swinging, but just can’t seem to land a punch. His most potent attack so far has been the shenanigans at UDOT - and that had limited effect. It’s gonna take a major game-changer for the dynamics of this race to change.
- Orrin Hatch – 97% chance of re-election.
It remains to be seen what the race between Hatch and Scott Howell will look like this time around. But, the playing field and money race favors Hatch. A very tough hill to climb for Howell.
- Rob Bishop – 100% chance of re-election.
Seriously, does anyone give Donna McAleer a snowball’s chance in hell?
- Chris Stewart – 75% chance of winning in Utah’s 2nd Congressional District.
It’s hard to put my finger on this race because it’s been so quiet. I’ve seen a few yard signs for Democrat Jay Seegmiller around, and that’s about it.
- Jason Chaffetz – 100% chance of re-election.
See Rob Bishop above.
- Mia Love – 65% chance of upsetting Jim Matheson.
Yes, there was a poll showing Matheson with a double-digit lead over Love, but a number of Republicans tell me the sample size was so small, they’re dismissing the results. I still think the dynamics of this race favor Love right now.
- John Swallow – 80% chance of winning tthe race for Attorney General.
It’s hard to gauge how voters will react after the bruising and nasty primary campaign between Swallow and Reyes. My sense is most will forget by the time November comes around and they’ll pull the lever for Swallow.
5. I think I’m feeling quite nostalgic after the passing of Norman Sas over the weekend.
Who’s Norman Sas? Only the inventor of the greatest game in the history of mankind - electric football. Okay, that’s a bit of hyperbole (maybe a lot). We have a tendency to remember things from our youth as being much better than they actually were.
If you’ve never played electric football, the field was a slab of metal that vibrated to move the players around. The players stood on top of green bases with thin plastic teeth on the bottom that you could, allegedly, control. That was the theory. The result couldn’t have been further from the truth.
As a 10-year-old, I owned every NFL team. I would spend hours with my brother trying to design plays and setting up the men. The moment of truth was when we finally flipped the switch. More often than not, everything went straight to hell - and it was glorious. When we got bored with that, we’d turn the intensity of the vibrating field up and watched the small plastic men try to navigate during a magnitude-10 earthquake. That familiar buzzing sound is a fond memory from my childhood that I shall always cherish.
You can still buy electric football sets today, and they haven’t changed much. The only improvement they’ve made is adding lights.
So, thank you Mr. Sas, and farewell.
Parting thought - “I'm 81 years old and I like to speak my mind. As a legacy, on the day I die, I'd like to have a newspaper publish all the things that I find wrong in the United States today. And my first would be to get rid of the politicians.” - Ernest Borgnine 1917 - 2012