For Independent candidacies seriously looking to win a major race with three candidates, there are generally two paths to victory.
Path 1: The Jesse Ventura model. In 1998, Jesse Ventura won a race for Governor with 37% of the vote. Republican Norm Coleman took 34% and Skip Humphrey took 28%. This type of race features three competitive candidates, who all have a decent shot at winning the election.
Path 2: The Joe Lieberman model. In 2006, Joe Lieberman (running for re-election as an Independent) won his race with ~50% of the vote, to 40% for Democrat Ned Lamont and 10% for Republican Alan Schlesinger. This race has the Independent acting as a major party candidate and one of the major party candidates essentially losing relevance in the race.
Tom Tancredo is too ideologically conservative and historically associated with the Republican Party to follow Path 1 to victory. However, there is the potential for the former Congressman to translate Lieberman’s example into a successful campaign.
A new Rasmussen poll came out today showing some positive results for Tancredo.
Most analysts see Hickenlooper as the easy winner as long as Maes and Tancredo split the GOP vote. Maes currently carries just 46% of the voters in his own party, while Tancredo, a former GOP congressman, picks up 36% Republican support.
Eighty-eight percent (88%) of Colorado Democrats support Hickenlooper. Among voters not affiliated with either party, 41% favor Hickenlooper to Tancredo’s 32% and Maes’ 17%.
The race remains Solid Democrat in the Rasmussen Reports Election 2010 Gubernatorial Scorecard.
Eighty-five percent (85%) of Hickenlooper supporters say they are already certain how they will vote in November, compared to just 53% of Maes voters and 48% of those who favor Tancredo.
Two weeks ago, Hickenlooper, currently the mayor of Denver, held a 36% lead to Maes’ 24% and Tancredo’s 14%. Twenty percent (20%) were undecided at that time, but that number has dropped dramatically to the apparent advantage of Hickenlooper and Tancredo, the candidate of the American Constitution Party.
Here at IPR several articles have pointed to the weakness of Republican Dan Maes’ campaign. To sum up the story in the links: Tom Tancredo is outraising Maes 4:1, is outpolling the Republican, and is starting to consolidate Republican endorsements.
Of course, all of this must come with several caveats. Tancredo has some controversial statements to his own name that could damage his credibility. Unlike Lieberman, the former Colorado Congressman does not have the benefit of incumbency. And Tancredo still has a 20 point gap to cover with Democrat John Hickenlooper, the strong frontrunner in the race.
But 2010 is the year of the Tea Party. With insurgent candidates winning races from Alaska to Delaware (we’ll find out this race tonight), Tancredo’s outsider candidacy may just be what the anti-incumbent electorate is looking for. And in a year where some see Republican gains everywhere, Tancredo may be able to focus his efforts on consolidating the conservative and Independent vote in order to move into contention with Hickenlooper.