How low can one candidate go?

| | Comments (11) | TrackBacks (0)

There was a point Tuesday evening, with about 95% of the precincts reporting, when Ernest Istook still had fewer votes than Don Carroll received in 1998. Carroll, a small businessman who won a runoff against a dead woman, received 268,898 votes, 31.28% against Sen. Don Nickles, who was running for his fourth term and was Senate Majority Whip. The total vote against Nickles, including two independents, was 289,031 or 33.62% of the vote. Istook finished the night with 310,273, which amounted to 33.50%. Ponder this: A credible, respected congressman representing Oklahoma's largest city almost loses as badly against a lackluster governor as an air conditioner repairman from Tahlequah did against a high-ranking and well-liked senator.

A race like the Nickles-Carroll race gives you a good idea of how many hard-core party voters there are, the people who will vote the party line no matter how great the disparity in experience and credibility between the candidates.

This year, Istook had the lowest number of votes of any statewide candidate, a very unusual circumstance for a candidate at the top of the ticket. And yet there wasn't a wide disparity in experience and credibility between Istook and Henry. Istook had acceptable credentials for serving as governor, with service in the state legislature and in Congress. He made no gaffes during the campaign, said nothing outrageous, made no major stumbles. Henry has no charisma, no plan. And yet Istook's share of the vote is on par with some fringe candidate challenging a wildly popular incumbent. How could that have happened?

0 TrackBacks

Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: How low can one candidate go?.

TrackBack URL for this entry:


W. Author Profile Page said:

I'll give it a shot on why Istook did so poorly:

-- He's Mormon, which skeeved out some Oklahomans. Maybe it's wrong, but it's a factor.

-- The state, like the rest of the country, got caught up a little in anti-Washington GOP fever. Many voters perceived Istook as part of the Washington problem.

-- Istook ran a lackluster campaign. He didn't give compelling enough reasons on why to vote FOR him.

-- Gov. Henry is a competent governor who doesn't make a lot of waves, and that's all you need to become a nearly-impossible-to-beat incumbent. There's a lot to be said about a politician who takes a "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" stance and doesn't try to overreach ideologically.

Twatch said:

Fat Cat money was with the demonstrated sleazy deal maker and Ernest Istook is an honest man.
People don't want to be constrained by what is right, they only want what makes them happy.

Jeff Shaw Author Profile Page said:

You have to also throw in a small consideration for the persons who voted for Mr. Istook, because they would never vote for Governor Henry; not because of party line voting but because there's not a better canditate. I acutally would liked to have seen Todd Hiett running against Governor Henry.

I think one thing I noticed about Candidate Istook is that he's been polished for D.C. politics, if that makes any sense. Although, I'm sure he would have made a fine Governor, his "political patina" if I may, is more suited for D.C.. IMHO.

I think the Governor's race in Oklahoma is like the Mayor's race in Tulsa - If you can make it look like you haven't screwed up anything really important, and you don't have higher aspirations, you could be in office for rest of your life. Probably oversimplification on my part.

Paul Tay said:

Santa's taking notes, Jeff.

Paul said:

Two words: Media Blackout.

Jan Thomas said:

The reason Istook lost is that Oklahoma citizens can be incredibly stupid! Look at Tulsa! Oh well, at least North Tulsa voted Collins out.

Jan said:


CGHill said:

In a postmortem in this morning's Oklahoman, Istook pointed to one interesting statistic:

"Istook said the effectiveness of Henry's television advertising is illustrated by voting results in the Panhandle. Henry won 74 counties but lost the three Panhandle counties, which are in the Amarillo, Texas, television market; many TV viewers in the Panhandle did not see Henry's ads that were aired so often in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa markets."


theotherguy said:

I never saw a single ISTOOK yard sign or TV commercial. Did they just assume everyone in Tulsa would vote Republican? Its like Largent loosing with $3mil unspent.

Adam C said:

Oklahoma Democrats. It is useful to remember that Oklahoma Democrats still outnumber Oklahoma Republicans. Henry did nothing that upset rural Oklahoma Democrats or urban Oklahoma Democrats. He gave no one a reason to fire him due to overreach or a liberal agenda. He is an Oklahoma Democrat.

Your analysis of Carroll's vote being the minimum for a Democrat in OK is correct. Istook's total is the minimum for a Republican because only those who vote partisanly supported him (for good or for bad).

Also, it will be different if Henry runs for SEN or other federal office. Then federal partisan control matters. See how Coburn despite many gaffes and mistakes still soundly defeated the slick Carson in 2004. He did so because many Oklahomas wanted the seat to stay in Republican hands even if they disagreed with Coburn's views on some issues.

Ok, here were my options in the election for governor.

Henry: A man that did a whole heck of a lot of nothing. He did get the lottery to a vote which, even though I oppose a lottery, should be decided by the people that live here. Thanks to his lack of movement on anything & being able to ride the non-destructive economy, Henry sat back while Oklahoma purred along.

Istook: I have voted for him in the past several times, but he gave me no compelling reason to vote FOR him. he took a shot at Henry regarding immigration but the laws he pointed at were written or co-written by Republicans. He couldn't point to any errors that Henry had made (since Henry did so little to begin with). I used to admire Istook for his stand against light rail in OKC, but I stepped back and studied it for a minute. After some travel and seeing other cities of similar size already having light rail and realizing that maybe the light rail folks were visionaries on the order of the MAPS people, I changed my mind on light rail.
I also read some information about Istook's push for the I-40 reroute and how it is destroying the railyards that would accomodate a light rail system. That was the clincher. I pretty much tossed out the rumor that the $$ we were seeking for light rail went to Utah. Destroying the railyards were enough for me. Also, there are the ballooning costs of the I-40 movement and some of the shady dealing in getting the tracks by OKC Rocks pulled up.

Istook gave me nothing to vote for, and a few reasons to doubt that he has the interests of Oklahoma in mind.

Henry reminded me of a lazy Reagan in that the government that governs least, governs best. If Henry would get RID of some pork & bloat instead of not increasing it, then he would heartily have gotten my vote. As it was, he apithatically received it.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on November 10, 2006 1:23 AM.

Regarding Newt was the previous entry in this blog.

A night at the Centennial Film Festival is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.



Subscribe to feed Subscribe to this blog's feed:
[What is this?]