Sitting here, just over two weeks after the general election, I am still somewhat amazed by Governor Mike Beebe’s performance at the polls. Check out this list:
- 1976: David Pryor, 83.2%,
- 1978: Bill Clinton, 63.36%
- 1980: Frank D. White, 51.93% (over incumbent Bill Clinton)
- 1982: Bill Clinton, 54.71%
- 1984: Bill Clinton, 62.55%
- 1986: Bill Clinton, 63.89%
- 1990: Bill Clinton, 57.49%
- 1994: Jim Guy Tucker, 59.60%
- 1998: Mike Huckabee, 59.77%
- 2002: Mike Huckabee, 53.01%
- 2006: Mike Beebe, 55.61%
- 2010: Mike Beebe, 64.42% (unofficial)
Those percentages are the raw percentage of the vote that each candidate received. Meaning, of course, that not only did Mike Beebe win; Mike Beebe won with the highest percentage of the vote in 34 years, and he received a higher total of the vote than did Bill Clinton or Mike Huckabee at any point during their tenures as Arkansas’s chief executive. Doing this in any election year would have been impressive, but doing it in a year when Democrats across the state were by and large destroyed at the polls is simply amazing.
That kind of historic win demonstrates an amazingly high level of popularity for the Governor, even in the face of anti-Democrat sentiment. That popularity, in turn, explains why there are so many Democrats in the legislature whispering about how Beebe could have done more to help Democrat candidates and expressing anger that he did not. I can’t say that I disagree with that sentiment, either; when you see statewide races being lost by only a few percentage points, it’s entirely reasonable to think that one or more of those races would have turned out differently if the uber-popular Governor had thrown a little of his political weight behind those candidates.
(I realize that he did do a commercial with Shane Broadway, and it was a very good commercial. The problem is that it came about two or three weeks too late.)
My only guess for why Beebe did not more actively campaign on behalf of Democrats is that he was more concerned with self-preservation and was not about to risk turning his race into an actual race by associating himself with doomed Dems. That’s his prerogative, I suppose, but that decision leaves the state saddled with a legislature that includes, among others, two ignoramuses (ignoramii?) and a secessionist racist. Good luck with that.