Wait a second. You mean to tell me that social issues still matter? That people are motivated to vote for particular candidates because of their stands on these issues and that these issues can make the difference in the election's outcome? Who would have thunk it? Certainly not Tom Emmer.
Just a few short weeks ago, the Republican candidate for governor appeared on a local weekend conservative talk radio show. When the brash young host dared raise a question about one of these issues, Emmer immediately slapped the whippersnapper down by retorting, "We're not going to talk about that. We're only going to talk about jobs and the economy."
And what has all that talk about jobs and the economy gotten Emmer? A nine-thousand vote deficit and looming recount that he will almost assuredly lose. To Mark bleepin' Dayton.
There were other things that the Emmer campaign didn't address, but this one might have hurt. Consider what happened in the 8th Congressional District, where Chip Cravaack unseated the eternal incumbent, Jim Oberstar. There were a number of reasons that Oberstar lost, but one that mattered was his vote on Obamacare, which effectively ended the charade that he was somehow pro-life. Chad explains:
What was different this time around was that the voters in the Eighth were finally able to understand that when it came to abortion, Oberstar was pro-life in name only. His decision to set aside his supposedly staunch pro-life principles to vote for ObamaCare showed where he really stood when the rubber was introduced to the road. And people noticed. . . .
Had Oberstar voted against ObamaCare he almost certainly would have been reelected as his Democratic colleague Collin Peterson--who had the courage to follow his pro-life convictions in voting against it--was in Minnesota's Seventh District. Social issues did matter in the Eighth District. Tom Emmer's refusal to talk about them may help explain why while Chip Cravaack beat Oberstar by 4,402 votes, Emmer lost the Eighth District to Dayton by around 20,000 (rough estimate) and why he ran behind Cravaack in every single county in the district.
It's easy to understand why Emmer, who had established clear pro-life bona fides during his time as a state rep, didn't think he needed to talk about social issues. It's not likely that pro-life voters would have selected Dayton or Horner, who both were for abortion rights. But can you imagine that there were enough pro-life voters who didn't think it mattered because Emmer didn't make a point of mentioning his bona fides? Emmer was well-known to Capitol observers before the election season, but only the political junkies knew who he was. He had to make a more complete introduction to other voters, especially those who don't hang on every word uttered by David Schultz or Eric Black. We may never know if Emmer blew it on this issue, but I'd bet that the election results would have been a hell of a lot more to Emmer's liking if he'd made the point about his being the only pro-life candidate a few more times.