We’ve written about the #Beetlebert scandal as it has unfolded this week, including the latest video evidence that Rep. Lauren Boebert’s spokespeople were flat-out lying when they denied allegations that Boebert was vaping in the theater during a performance in Denver of the popular Beetlejuice musical. It’s important now to take a step back from the coverage of Boebert’s latest scandal – and there has been a LOT of coverage worldwide – to consider exactly how and why this incident might be more harmful to Boebert’s political future than any of her antics that have come before.
We know from polling data that Boebert’s constituents in the third congressional district largely view her as a politician in the “performative obstruction” mold who is more concerned about social media and the approval of MAGA Republicans (and small donors) than she is with the voters in CO-03. It is remarkable that Boebert nearly lost her seat in 2022 despite representing a district that statistically should give her a roughly 9-point advantage over a Democrat. Yet for all her faults, Boebert is still a Republican incumbent in a Republican-leaning district.
For example, calling for the impeachment of President Biden for reasons she can’t really explain may seem absurd to a sizable percentage of the population, but there are plenty of MAGA nuts – local and national – who eat this stuff up. Boebert doesn’t try to be an effective lawmaker; she exists to “own the libs,” which is a role she embraces wholeheartedly that provides her with a fairly loyal base of supporters and campaign cash.
So why is #Beetlebert different? The lies are very much a problem, as we discussed earlier, but anyone who follows Boebert is familiar with her penchant for taking credit for things she opposed or just making up stories about migrants receiving thousands of dollars in handouts from the federal government. Boebert has plenty of supporters who share her opinions on certain issues and don’t care a whit that she lies about the details.
No, #Beetlebert might well mark the beginning of the end of Lauren Boebert’s career in Congress precisely because it has nothing to do with politics…
You can be an obnoxious asshole and survive – or even thrive – in American politics. Without question, former President Donald Trump is an insufferable jerk, but he’s not the kind of insufferable jerk that most people can relate to on a personal level. Because of his wealth and fame, Trump moves about in a different world that is largely inaccessible to the average person.
Consultants and campaign managers always talk about the importance of a candidate being “relatable” to voters. On Sunday at the Buell Theater in Denver, Boebert demonstrated a nonpartisan display of insufferable, obnoxious behavior that is nothing if not relatable to the average voter.
Everyone has been to a theater performance (or a movie, or a sporting event, or a concert, etc.) and had their experience marred by the obnoxious behavior of one ridiculous (and often inebriated) individual who won’t turn off their cell phone or won’t stop talking loudly. Everyone can relate to the woman seated behind Boebert who is clearly frustrated and annoyed by what is happening directly in front of her seat — including a lot of inappropriate groping and fondling. And everyone in Colorado can relate to smelling and inhaling the secondhand fumes of marijuana [Note: We don’t know for sure that Boebert was vaping marijuana at the Buell Theater, but given her related behavior…let’s just say it is a reasonable bit of conjecture].
No matter what political party you represent, these behaviors will always be reprehensible to most people:
♦ Vaping throughout a performance while seated directly in front of a pregnant woman;
♦ Berating people – including pregnant women – for voicing objections about your behavior;
♦ Taking videos, singing out loud, and waving your arms in the air during a performance;
♦ Pulling the vile “don’t you know who I am” card when you are finally escorted out of the theater for your disruptive behavior.
Look at the scene below from one of the many security camera videos that evening. Boebert is waving her arms and dancing around in her seat.
There is nobody else in the shot who is acting even remotely like Boebert. Nobody else appears to be taking video of the actors on stage, either.
Boebert is THAT PERSON in the room. Everyone despises THAT PERSON.
The video also makes it impossible for Boebert to claim that she was being targeted for her politics or that people were telling lies about her behavior in the theater. It’s all there for everyone to see.
To Know Boebert is to Dislike Boebert
Boebert’s favorability numbers are upside-down – her disapproval rating is higher than her approval rating – which is always bad news for a politician. But the killer number from recent polling shows that Boebert ALSO maintains a very high name ID. In short, voters in Boebert’s district know who she is and they don’t like her.. It is really difficult to change a voter’s opinion on this once it has been formed.
In 2022, Boebert eked out a 546-vote margin of victory over Democrat Adam Frisch. With one exception (Heidi Ganahl), every other major statewide Republican candidate in Colorado outperformed Boebert in CO-03. Boebert even lost her home county of Garfield by 14 points in 2022.
All of this leads to one obvious conclusion: The people who know Lauren Boebert best also appear to like her the least.
#Beetlebert is also so damning because the video evidence makes it impossible to defend Boebert’s behavior. Before the second videos were released by 9News on Thursday, there were some on the right (like Jon Caldara, filling in for George Brauchler on KNUS radio) who were defending Boebert and suggesting that the complaints about her were being exaggerated.
Take a look at this comment on Facebook from Lesley Hollywood, a particularly loud right-wing activist who nobody could accuse of being anything but a staunch Republican supporter:
You can’t pretend that Boebert’s antics are fine. You can’t pretend that this is a story manufactured by the media. This is Lauren Boebert for all to see.
Beware the “Spite Vote”
This leads Boebert into particularly rough territory in 2024 as she prepares to face off against what we call the “Spite Vote.” You know who we’re talking about: These are the “who does she think she is” type of voters who will end up – at best – just not voting when they get to the CO-03 portion of the ballot in 2024.
The “Spite Vote” is of particular concern in a Republican Primary, where loyal Republican voters have another option in Jeff Hurd. We’ll be keeping a close eye out for the next quarterly fundraising reports in CO-03 to see not just how much money Hurd is raising, but from whom.
In a General Election matchup, even voters who might dislike Democrats and/or Adam Schiff will have to really ponder what to do with their vote and could choose a third party candidate instead. Whatever you think about Hurd, or Frisch, or anyone else on the ballot with Boebert, their biggest inherent advantage just got better: They are NOT Lauren Boebert.
Many voters don’t need a long list of reasons to vote YES or NO on a candidate; Boebert’s inexcusably boorish behavior on Sunday gives everyone the moral rationale to ditch her in 2024. #Beetlebert even gives MAGA enthusiasts an out should they choose not to back Boebert in 2024.
There are numerous reasons why a candidate succeeds or fails in a given election, from fundraising and outside resources to messaging and grassroots activism. But one factor generally proves to be accurate again and again: Voters don’t tend to support unlikable people. #Beetlebert stripped away the politics and the rhetoric and showed Lauren Boebert to be a generally awful person whose behavior few other human beings would seek to emulate…let alone deem worthy of their vote.
Boebert has been in a downward spiral for months. This might not be the bottom, but there’s a good chance we’ll look back at this moment in November 2024 as a key turning point in the race for CO-03.