Daily Bread for 10.6.22: Mandela Barnes Will Lose Without a Fundamental Change in Messaging

Good morning.



Thursday in Whitewater will see an even chance of morning showers with a high of 65. Sunrise is 6:58 AM and sunset 6:26 PM for 11h 27m 46s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 85.8% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Finance Committee meets at 4:30 PM

On this day in 1927, The Jazz Singer, the first prominent “talkie” movie, opens.

Truth precedes preference. Readers at FREE WHITEWATER know that this website has been critical of, and opposed to, Sen. Ron Johnson. (There’s a Thursday morning understatement for you.) When assessing political fortunes, however, the realistic, not the desirable, governs. The trajectory of Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate race favors Johnson. Without a fundamental change in messaging, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes will lose this race to incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson.

Yesterday, FREE WHITEWATER‘s daily post included a screenshot of polling averages from FiveThirtyEight that showed Johnson 1.9 points ahead of Barnes. Barnes had been ahead in August, but saw his lead fade as September went on. 

The change in these candidates’ prospects has caught national attention. Reid J. Epstein reports Democrats Worry as G.O.P. Attack Ads Take a Toll in Wisconsin (‘Mandela Barnes, the party’s Senate candidate, is now wobbling in his race against Ron Johnson, the Republican incumbent’): 

Democrats in Wisconsin are wringing their hands about how Mr. Barnes’s political fortunes have sagged under the weight of the Republican advertising blitz. Grumbling about his campaign tactics and the help he is receiving from national Democrats, they worry that he could be one of several of the party’s Senate candidates whose struggles to parry a withering G.O.P. onslaught could sink their candidacies and cost Democrats control of the chamber.


It has been an abrupt turnaround for Mr. Barnes since late summer, when he won the Democratic primary by acclimation and opened up a lead in polls over Mr. Johnson, who has long had the lowest approval ratings of any incumbent senator on the ballot this year. But the hail of attack ads from Mr. Johnson and allied super PACs has tanked Mr. Barnes’s standing, particularly among the state’s finicky independent voters.

Republicans have seized in particular on Mr. Barnes’s past progressive stances, including his suggestion in a 2020 television interview that funding be diverted from “over-bloated budgets in police departments” to social services — a key element of the movement to defund the police. Since then, Mr. Barnes has disavowed defunding the police and has called for an increase in funding.

Barnes likely needs a saturating message that’s half reassurance against Johnson’s charges and half reminder on how Johnson’s party has supported, and seeks, national limits on reproductive choices. Barnes was always going to get hit on his views about crime, and his campaign should have made better efforts to inoculate him on this issue. They didn’t, and October is late in the campaign to make the effort.

This libertarian blogger has never supported defending the police (the proposal is a blunt, lazy instrument of public policy), and other Democrats (the ones who dropped out for Barnes) would not have been similarly vulnerable.  

Barnes needs more than to remind voters of Johnson’s execrable record; he needs to reassure persuadable Wisconsin voters that he understands their worries over public safety. While some of these worries are overwrought, yet still these voters’ concerns need to be addressed to win the their support. 

If they are not convinced, Barnes will lose this race to one of America’s worst senators. 

Russian missile destroys Ukraine residential building in Zaporizhzhia:

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