By Michael Bryan
We are already into early voting and less than a month from Primary day and the vast plurality of Democratic voters haven't made up their minds about who should run against (one may safely presume) Senator John McCain (R).
The Democratic campaigns may quibble about the details, but polling from all sides agree on three things: that no Democratic candidate is polling much above 20%, that Rodney Glassman generally tops polling (but often within margins of error), and that from 40% to 50% of likely voters still haven't any idea who they should vote for.
The race is literally wide open to whomever can convince the most undecideds between now the election on September 7th. That level of fluidity in a race in which one candidate has a prohibitive money lead is nearly unheard of.
Glassman is said to have a million bucks in the his campaign chest, yet he has not mounted a significant media campaign to move his numbers to the extent that a million bucks could certainly accomplish. Given the opportunity and means to put the race away decisively, he simply hasn't.
Certainly, Glassman could capitalize on the fluidity of this race as well as Dougherty, Parraz, or Eden might. In fact, he's unarguably in the best position to do so with the treasury he's assembled. But his inaction to date leaves open the possibility that one of the other candidates might be able to mobilize free and online/social media in ways that could negate Glassman's financial advantage.
Will that happen? I can't say, but Dougherty has been very effective with free media (not surprising given his previous career) and Parraz has been investing heavily in online/social media (he's even brought Zephyr Teachout into his campaign, who quarterbacked Dean's remarkable online operation in 2003/2004).
Conventional Wisdom would indicate that Rodney Glassman should have long-since swamped his Democratic rivals with his early start, substantial early fundraising, and significant ability and willingness to self-finance. Yet he hasn't. And now that we approaching the wire, this race may prove far more interesting than Glassman would like.
One interesting exception to the large numbers of undecided voters in this season is the Hispanic vote. According to the Parraz campaign, their polling indicates that the undecided vote among Hispanic voters is roughly half that of the general voting population. And those voters are breaking for Parraz 6 to 1 according to his campaign manager.
In fact, the Parraz campaign's strategy is work for an unprecedented turnout of Hispanic voters in this primary and to win that demographic overwhelmingly. The Parraz campaign's expectation is not unreasonable given the knock-on effects of SB1070 and the perception among Hispanics that they are being targeted for discrimination by the GOP. Whether that motivation translates into increased Hispanic voter effectiveness in the primary, versus in the general when it would be too late to help Parraz, is a thorny question.
Independent organizations working in Arizona this cycle to register and turn-out Hispanic voters in response to anti-immigrant policies could also have an effect on the race. The money they are spending on that aspect of the ground game will surely assist all Democratic candidates, but it might help some more than others.
The Hispanic vote is another potential wildcard in the primary that might leave Glassman short of a winning hand and wishing that he had gone all in early to force the other Democrats to quit the table.