Did the economy doom Fenty?
This morning, I suggested that Adrian Fenty's horrible campaign -- he refused to even run polls -- implied that you could be bad enough at politics to overwhelm a fairly good record. But on Twitter, Ryan Avent disagreed. "Unemployment in DC peaked at 12% and was concentrated on groups that went overwhelmingly for Gray. Coincidence?"
Fair enough. I made the mistake of confusing the mayor's record with the lived experience of D.C.'s residents. Some things in D.C. are objectively better than they were when Fenty took office. The murder rate, for instance, is at a 45-year low. Test scores really are up under Michelle Rhee -- though the improvement is incremental rather than revolutionary (which is exactly what you'd expect). Property values are higher, though that also means people are getting pushed out. But the economy is awful.
Adrian Fenty ran for office in late 2006. Unemployment was in the 5 percent range. Today, it's at 10.5 percent. Other mayors -- like Los Angeles's Antonio Villaraigosa -- are surviving similar levels of unemployment, which is why I think you can't underestimate Fenty's aggressive disinterest in how voters actually felt about him. But you also can't ignore the fact that the economy is trashed right now, and effective incumbents are losing races all across the country -- and some of them are running much better campaigns than Fenty did.
Photo credit: Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post.
| September 15, 2010; 12:41 PM ET
Categories: 2010 Midterms
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