AR-02: In Baseball and Politics, You Gotta Have a Good Closer

27 Oct

Being able to “seal the deal” against your opponent is a key component of success for two of America’s most important pastimes: baseball and politics. As the World Series gets underway tonight, and as we tick off the final days before Election 2010, it’s evident that having the right person to “shut the door” is proving to be more important than ever.

The Texas Rangers?

They turn to the soft-spoken, flame-throwing 22-year-old Neftali Perez to finish off the opposition.

With hitters going for about a buck-sixty average and with more Ks than innings pitched, it’s easy to see why The Team Nolan Ryan Built was comfortable giving a big role to such a young fella.

The San Francisco Giants?

Well, no doubt even the most casual MLB fan among you has come across the now infamous black beard of one Brian Wilson when flipping around network TV the past couple of weeks. His pro-wrestler-style facial hair, mannerisms, and rituals notwithstanding, the guy is really everything you want in a closer — he’s intimidating and has filthy stuff, as evidenced by 1.81 ERA and 48 saves this season (giving him 127 for the past three years).

But how about for Democrats, both nationally and here in Arkansas? Well, I think we all know who has taken over the 9th inning: It’s Bubba. The former president’s friends say he is in disbelief that in the closing weeks of the midterm campaigns Democrats have failed to articulate a coherent message on the economy and, worse, have allowed themselves to become “human pinatas,” according to a recent Washington Post story. He is the Democrats’ most in-demand messenger right now and, unlike President Obama, he has become the one-man-momentum-builder for candidates all over the country, no matter how “Red” the territory has seemingly become in the past two years. Talk Business’s Roby Brock and Hendrix professor Jay Barth recently conducted a poll on the Clinton-effect in Arkansas, providing us with the following take:

In recent days, Arkansas Democrats have invested heavily in the persuasive powers of native son Bill Clinton to rescue what has been a very tough year for them.  Clinton has made two trips to the state — the most recent being this week — and he has been featured in candidates’ advertising, most notably in the television advertising of incumbent U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln.

Our survey of Arkansas voters shows that Bill Clinton is, indeed, quite popular in his native state. Roughly, 55% of Arkansas voters view Clinton favorably (and nearly 40% very favorably).

Clinton is perceived incredibly favorably by Arkansas Democrats with 77.6% seeing him in a very favorable light and a majority of them say that they would respond positively to a Clinton endorsement.  Thus, our sense that Clinton does have some power to bring home the party base. In this cycle, Democratic candidates in Arkansas have been underperforming with African-Americans and with Democrats, so Clinton may help bring the party’s base home in the closing weeks of the campaign.

In the increasingly-heated AR-02 race between Joyce Elliott and George W. Bush imitator Timmy! Griffin, Elliott’s camp has made the call to the bullpen for the ol’ veteran lefty to try to close the gap and bring a comeback win home with two new ads that we feel will be highly effective in turning out Democrats for her. Here are the spots, “Choices” and “Fourth Quarter.”


Much like the final week in her primary run-off against Speaker Robbie Wills, you can almost feel this “Democratic rallying cry” coming about on behalf of the state senator — and there’s no coincidence that it’s coming soon after deciding to take Griffin on directly regarding character. The drubbing Timmy! took at yesterday’s Political Animals Club debate has only helped Elliott’s confidence in the campaign’s final week.

UPDATE: BHR looks for Cliff Lee to make Arkansas proud (yet again), former Mizzou star Ian Kinsler to take home MVP honors, and that team from Arlington, Texas to win this year’s Fall Classic in six games.

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