As spring turns to summer this Memorial Day, the political world is fixated on Big Trends:
How deep does this year’s anti-incumbent fervor run? Will the economy make sufficient gains to help Democrats in November? What’s the real meaning of the Tea Party movement?
But high-concept questions can obscure a low-concept reality: Campaigns matter. So do candidates.
The best politicians have a way of navigating the currents of a hostile political environment. Other politicians, to paraphrase Steve Martin, not have way.
It was Democrat Martha Coakley in Massachusetts who reminded everyone of this truth early in the year, with a stumblebum performance in the January special election that vaulted Republican Scott Brown into Ted Kennedy’s former Senate seat.
Since then, there have been plenty of other examples of politicians who have stepped on a rake, or worse. Here's POLITICO's list of this year's biggest flops, to date: the candidates who remind us that while the race isn't always to the swift, it is usually to the pol who doesn't actively sabotage his or her own campaign.