November 9, 2006
Haggard Effect - The Anticlimax
There is much counter-evidence against any Haggard Effect in Tuesday's election. The Denver Post notes:
Not only did Amendment 43, which defines marriage in the state constitution as only between one man and one woman, pass by a double-digit margin, but a measure that would have created domestic partnerships for same-sex couples suffered a sound defeat.
(Haggard, by the way, did not take a position on the domestic partnerships initiative.)
Likewise, Republican U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, a favorite among religious conservatives, won re-election.
"Musgrave is among the most vulnerable of representatives," political science professor Norman Provizer, told the Post. "And yet in a year in which many candidates who were viewed as (not) vulnerable were defeated, she managed to hang in there."
"Evangelicals apparently shrugged off pastor's woes," says a Post story by the indispensable Eric Gorski. The piece says that while many people wondered if there would be a "Haggard Factor," it didn't seem to emerge.
I still wonder if it did emerge in the 18th District Colorado House race, which I mentioned earlier. (Haggard had asked national evangelical leaders to help the Republican candidate, Kyle Fisk, who was formerly Haggard's right-hand man and is a pastor at one of New Life Church's daughter congregations. Haggard was "an issue" in the race long before last week's scandal.)
Was there a Haggard Effect in that race? The Democrat, Michael Merrifield, received 61 percent of the vote, with Fisk at 39 percent. That's pretty dramatic. But how dramatic? In 2004, Merrifield received 55 percent of the vote, with the Republican challenger getting 42 percent. But back in 2002, it was a squeaker, with Merrifield being elected to the seat with only 75 more ballots (0.004% of all votes cast) than the Republican. Was there a Haggard Effect in the Fisk race? It may be anyone's guess. And it may be that Colorado's horrendous voting problems played a greater role Tuesday night anyway.