September 27, 2006

TENNESSEE SENATE UPDATE: One thing that everyone in Washington asked me about was the Tennessee Senate race between Bob Corker (R) and Harold Ford, Jr. (D). Here’s what I told them. I think that Ford’s got an excellent, and probably better-than-even chance at winning. That’s because he’s a very strong candidate with an excellent campaign operation.

There’s nothing wrong with Corker, but he’s not as impressive on TV, and his campaign seems to be much less of a well-oiled machine. The conventional wisdom was that Ford might pull even during the summer, but that once Corker started spending money and running ads, he’d pull into the lead and stay there. That hasn’t happened. In fact, if you look at the polls at Pollster.com, it seems that the race shifted in Ford’s favor about the time (mid-August) that Corker started really running his ads. This suggests that Corker needs new ads.

The race could still go either way, but the momentum is very much in Ford’s favor at the moment. Ford’s biggest weakness: The Ford family, an old West Tennessee dynasty which has a lot of skeletons. Nobody’s tied Harold Ford, Jr. to the scandals that have afflicted many other members of his family, and Corker would be a fool to run commercials based on that issue (attacking someone via his/her family looks tacky), but if one of them says or does something dumb between now and the election it might hurt him. I imagine they’ll be trying to keep them quiet. People wonder if race is an issue for Ford, but I don’t think it’s hurting him, and in fact it may well be helping him.

If Corker wants to win, he’s going to need better ads, and a better-organized staff. Right now, I’d give the edge to Ford, who’s already got both. Follow the links for our interviews with Bob Corker and Harold Ford, Jr.