The Name Game

Republicans and Democrats in the state of Washington are battling over just how to describe the party affiliation of the Republican (GOP?) candidate for governor. ...
by | September 25, 2008

Republicans and Democrats in the state of Washington are battling over just how to describe the party affiliation of the Republican (GOP?) candidate for governor. From the Associated Press:

OLYMPIA -- The state Democratic Party is suing to get a Republican on the ballot.

The party sued Secretary of State Sam Reed on Tuesday, saying Dino Rossi should be listed as a Republican, instead of "prefers GOP party," on the November ballot for governor.

The lawsuit, filed in King County Superior Court, argues that "allowing Mr. Rossi to obscure his true party preference and affiliation directly violates the law, would mislead a substantial portion of the voting public and would breed cynicism and mistrust in our public institutions and, indeed, in our electoral process."

Most likely, there are a lot of low-information voters who don't know what G.O.P. means. I remember the Wall Street Journal debating whether it should stop using the nickname for the party because readers didn't know what it meant. If Wall Street Journal readers aren't familiar with it, much of the rest of the country probably isn't either.

Nonetheless, I'm not really sure that this is as consequential a debate as the two parties think. For Rossi to benefit from not being called a Republican on the ballot, voters have to be ignorant of the meaning of G.O.P. But, just as much so, they also have to not already know that Rossi is a Republican before looking at the ballot -- otherwise it doesn't matter how he's described. And how many people in Washington really are going to be unsure of Dino Rossi's party affiliation by the time ballots are cast?

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com

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