14 March 2012

Alabama incumbents 2, Campaign for Primary Accountability 0

Challengers endorsed by the national Campaign for Primary Accountability SuperPAC were whipped in two Alabama congressional primaries yesterday. Committee chairmen Spencer Bachus and Jo Bonner were renominated by comfortable margins despite ad buys against them by the CPA. Given how Alabama, like Mississippi, was nearly evenly split among supporters of Santorum, Gingrich and Romney, it would be interesting to track how supporters of each candidate voted in the congressional primaries in the two targeted districts and learn whether followers of any of the three leading presidential candidates share the CPA's knee-jerk anti-incumbentism. Given the easy victories for each Representative, we could assume that each had the support of at least two of the three strongest presidential factions, or that a Republican's preference for the presidential nomination had no role whatsoever in his choice between an incumbent and a challenger.

The CPA argues that incumbents have unfair advantages in primaries that SuperPACs can counteract with heavy advertising. But one advantage of incumbency is probably unassailable. If these two Representatives had sufficient seniority to chair House committees, they've probably been bringing home the bacon to their districts as well. Unless an incumbent gets embroiled in a personal scandal or makes an ass of himself in some extraordinary way, the typical voter is likely to see some loss of advantage to himself as a constituent if he sacrifices his representative's seniority on the altar of rotation in office. Entities like CPA probably deplore the fact that bringing home the bacon benefits incumbents, but perhaps they should run ads attacking the voters instead of the incumbents if they really want to change people's minds.

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