Carl Paladino is the Exception, Not the Rule

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 11 2010 10:15 AM

Carl Paladino is the Exception, Not the Rule

Carl Paladino's anti-homosexuality speech, which is going to burn through at least one news cycle , prompts a question. Why cover Carl Paladino? Apart from two polls conducted right after Paladino clobbered Rick Lazio in the GOP's gubernatorial primary, he has trailed Andrew Cuomo massively. Cuomo is on track to destroy him on the airwaves and at the polls. So why so much coverage of him?

The obvious answer: There're a whole lot of reporters in New York. Running there gives you access to nationally-read papers and nationally-watched TV shows. Politico, which often acts as an assignment desk for cable news, hosts reported blogs by two of the best New York political reporters, Ben Smith and Maggie Haberman. So Paladino gets a ton of coverage, just as Harold Ford's aborted vanity campaign for Senate gets a lot of coverage.

Advertisement

The less obvious answer: Paladino is the exception to this year's political trend. I noted in August that Democratic dreams of Tea Partiers handing them the election were overblown; that in a wave year, even deeply flawed candidates can win. Nothing's happened to change my mind. Scan the House races and you'll find dozens of cases where Republican candidates appear to have hobbled themselves -- a sexual harassment case , on-the-record quotes about dismantling Social Security -- but are in strong contention anyway. I think the fact that Paladino and Christine O'Donnell won their primaries the same day, the very last primary day of the cycle,* has revved up a flawed storyline about "crazy" Tea Partiers blowing the election. So the focus on Paladino and O'Donnell is completely out of whack. If the DCCC is a general on a battlefield, it is distracting attention from the army headed straight for it by pointing out that two of the new recruits are holding their crossbows wrong.

*Okay, Hawaii came next.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.