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With 92 days to go, it may be a little early to start asking voters about their plans for the Nov. 7 Congressional election. Yet it’s never too soon to find out what went wrong last time – especially if you’re Francine Busby.

It’s actually not Busby, who lost to Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Carlsbad) in the June special election to replace convicted felon Randy “Duke” Cunningham, that’s harassing voters at this early hour. Instead, it’s members of the Courage Campaign, a California progressive group, who spent their summer polling voters in California’s 50th Congressional District in hopes of finding out, “Why Francine Busby Lost.”

Although their poll, released last week, sampled a disproportionately large number of Democrats, its findings still yielded some interesting conclusions. Here’s one:

“The ‘culture of corruption’ message, on which the Democratic Congressional Committee based most of it’s [sic] multi-million dollar advertising budget in the district, and which was a pillar of the national Democratic message going into the Busby campaign, failed.”

Only 2 percent of the people polled that voted for Busby did so because of that message, according to the Courage Campaign’s analysis. Moreover, the group claims that Busby’s mantra of misdeeds in D.C may have suppressed turnout of Independent voters, because Independents tend to think both Republicans and Democrats are corrupt.

While Busby needed Independent votes, the poll claims “She failed to define herself as a clear alternative with strong views, instead running against a criminal, but incarcerated and retired incumbent.”

During his campaign Bilbray certainly didn’t have any trouble defining his punitive stance on immigration, but the poll shows many voters doubted his ability to turn rhetoric into reality in the face of opposition from the Bush administration.

Likewise, when it comes to Iraq, the Courage Campaign concludes that voters don’t believe that Busby or the Democrats can implement a troop withdrawal without support of the White House.

“Voters did not believe either candidate’s vow to change President Bush’s policies. This was true of Bilbray on immigration as it was of Busby on the culture of corruption or troop deployment in Iraq.”

Finally, the Courage Campaign offered up this tidbit, which is probably more commentary than analysis, but nonetheless interesting

“In order to create a ‘change’ election, Democrats must stand up and hold President Bush accountable for his actions and policies.”

Click here to view the Courage Campaign’s analysis of the poll.

DANIEL STRUMPF

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