Don’t rob Scott to stop Joe: Moderates should support McAdams
By Dan O’Neill
I’d like to address Democrats and other moderates who are trying to figure out how to vote in the US Senate race. Most of us broadly in the center—and certainly those of us left of center—see Joe Miller as an extremist and clearly the worst choice to be our next senator. But I think it is a big mistake for moderates to vote for Lisa Murkowski. And here’s why:
For one thing, Scott McAdams can win. Polls that show him running several points behind have some structural flaws. For one thing, telephone surveys do not call cell phones. In other words, inadvertently, these polls can selectively underreport younger people’s views. And young people generally trend toward the Democrats. Secondly, pollsters have been mentioning Lisa by name, whereas the actual ballot will not.
I think a truer analysis makes this a three-way race where anyone can win, especially as Miller’s campaign self-destructs (he’s looking a lot like John Lindauer in 1998.) The most recent polls show voters have an extremely high negative opinion of Miller as his support spirals downward, Murkowski with significantly high negatives and static, and McAdams very popular, low negatives, and surging. He can win.
Secondly, Lisa is not a moderate and hasn’t been for quite a while. Yes, she was a moderate during her time in the state legislature. But if you look up her votes as a US senator in recent years, you see a different Lisa. Pick your issue area.
Women’s issues? Lisa won’t quite say whether she is pro-choice, but her votes say plainly enough: According to Pro-Choice America, Lisa votes in support of their interests only 25 percent of the time. Same low rating with Planned Parenthood: 25 percent.
She voted to ban access to abortion for women who opt into the new health insurance arrangement; she voted against a bill to improve the availability of contraceptives to women; voted against domestic violence protection.
She voted “No” to elevating Harvard Law School dean Elena Kagan and Appellate Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.
Environmental issues? Lisa introduced a resolution (written by lobbyists), and led the Senate fight, to gut the Clean Air Act and end the EPA’s authority to regulate carbon emissions. On global warming legislation, a Mother Jones writer calls her the “most effective obstructionist” in the Congress.
Alaska projects? Lisa voted against $10 million for our Denali Commission (though, somehow, she takes credit for the appropriation); she voted against erosion control for Bethel; against suicide prevention in the Arctic; against funding for Abused Women’s Aid in Crisis, Covenant House, and Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Alaska.
Lisa consistently voted against moderate positions and in favor of the more belligerent features of the Republican agenda. Over ninety percent of the time this last year she voted with hard-liner Sen. Mitch McConnell, including voting against every single appropriations bill—bills that included 89 projects for Alaska that totaled over $400 million.
No amount of reasoning could induce her to compromise. She wanted a leadership position in the Senate, and she spent bipartisanship, compromise, rationality, and Alaska’s interests to get it.
And when a right-winger declared against her in the primary, she instantly positioned herself as the shrillest ultra-conservative in the race. Now, for the general election, she re-positions herself as a moderate. Lisa puts Lisa first.
Finally, what is the cost of voting for McAdams? Well, Joe Miller might win. And what’s at risk there? Miller would have one vote in the Senate, as did Lisa. Either way, it’s one lost vote for moderates.
Besides, if Miller should get in, judging from the almost daily revelations about him during this campaign, it’s hard to imagine he could last a full term, let alone be reelected. By contrast, if Lisa gets in, she likely will be there—voting against us—for as long as her daddy was.
But too many Democrats have made a flawed calculus. They think they must vote for Lisa to stop Joe. In fact, a vote for Lisa is the only thing than can keep McAdams from winning. It is a vote for a senator who will vote exactly like Joe Miller. And is a vote to kill an incipient political miracle: Alaska sending two Democrats to the US Senate.
Sadly, that’s what may happen. Public Policy Polling’s results of yesterday show that only 56% of the voters with a positive opinion of McAdams are actually intending to vote for him, while 31% of them are going for Lisa Murkowski.
I think McAdams’ message is right: Don’t vote your fears, vote your values. This guy’s the true moderate in the race. He’s run a terrific campaign. He’s rocketing up in the polls, and he’s got a real shot. It will be a damned shame if McAdams is defeated by the very people who share his values and would prefer him in the senate.
Dan O’Neill lives in Fairbanks. He is the author of The Firecracker Boys, The Last Giant of Beringia, and A Land Gone Lonesome.