Election Day Recap

Michelle Malkin has a whole host of links on the results of yesterday’s elections. Fortunately for the GOP, mid-season elections like this rarely portend much. Unfortunately for the GOP, the lackluster Kilgore campaign is a sign that despite a very well-organized GOTV campaign, the GOP is in trouble. Part of it was the fact that Kilgore didn’t run a great campaign and Kaine got extra momentum in October. However, it is also quite clear that Republicans can’t afford complacency in the slightest. Virginia is a red state, and if Kilgore couldn’t defeat somone like Tim Kaine, that does not bode well.

The California ballot initiatives went down in flames, a blow to the Governator – but the George Soros-backed Ohio ballot initiatives also went down in flames. This seems to me to be less a story about which ideological side won and lost and more about how a raft of confusing ballot initiatives will turn off the electorate. The power to use initiatives and referendums can be an effective way of making state and local governments more democratic, but they also tend to do badly when presented as special elections. Ballot initiatives are often confusing, and people don’t tend to pay much attention to politics in off years – and many don’t pay attention to politics at all.

2006 is a year away, and midterm elections are influenced as much by candidates and circumstances as national politics. However, the loss of Jerry Kilgore in Virginia should be a wakeup call to the national GOP leadership – who have shown a lack of leadership and conviction in the past year. If Americans are going to get a GOP that’s only slightly less willing to spend than the Democrats, why not vote for divided government? The Republicans alienated the middle with the Schiavo affair, and alienated the conservative base with their fiscal irresponsibility. This has been an annus horribilus for the GOP, and many of their wounds are self-inflicted.

However, 2006 is another year, and if the GOP can get its act together, things can change. The question is how much real leadership can the party summon in order to present a coherent platform and how well the GOP can attract strong candidates to carry that message forward. If those things don’t play out as needed, the improvements to the GOP’s GOTV efforts may not be enough.

UPDATE: Michael Barone offers some analysis of the election results:

Democrats, after their victories in the gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey, are arguing that these results, together with the national polls, show a repudiation of the Bush administration. Republicans are arguing that these were just local contests, with no national implications. They’re both right and both wrong.

As always, Barone has some of the best analysis in the business.

4 thoughts on “Election Day Recap

  1. Putting national prominence on two Governor’s races is pretty much foolish, much as the Dems would like to believe this is indicative of things to come a full year from now. After all, Mark Warner and Jim McGreevy were both elected in 2001 only two months after 9/11 when Bush’s popularity was stratospheric…and it hardly had any positive impact for the Dems in the disastrous 2002 midterms. Nonetheless, I think the Virginia race does suggest that voters are less likely to be duped into buying the tax-cutting, cut-the-budget-to-the-bone GOP talking points that you suggest will come to be your salvation next year.

    Tim Kaine won in Virginia because voters found Mark Warner’s tax-hiking approach less egregious than they found Jim Gilmore and George Bush’s “starve the beast” approach. Kaine won based on a variety of local issues and a piss-poor campaign by Kilgore, but he also won because voters favor chubby government over malnourished government. Similarly, polls at the national level show that voters oppose cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and student aid coupled with tax cuts by a nearly 3-1 margin. And of course, that is the exact path Congress is proudly taking and which Jay Reding is chanting for more of. If there’s any lesson your side should have gotten from this, it’s that the era of big government being over is over.

  2. Mark you had me until the until you said that GWB is actually starving the beast and not for “chubby” government. I agree that the era of big government was never over, whats the budget 12 trillion, haven’t seen Bush veto one spending bill and yet he is still for a malnourished government. Wish that he were. How much should we spend ? What about the deficts, you know the one your so against because of the tax cuts. It couldn’t be the spending could it ?

  3. Ray, Bush has undeniably been a big spender, but most of his spending is allocated towards interests that produce zero benefits for the average American. Whether it be billions in giveaways disguised as “energy policy” to oil companies already enjoying record profits, billions in subsidies to corporate farm operations that are mostly located in the South, or freebies to drug companies disguised as a “prescription drug benefit”, Bush’s idea of big government is the worst kind…the kind that benefits 0.1% of the population. The other 99.9% gets to contend with an increasingly malnourished government that demands double-digit tuition hikes at colleges each year and cuts Medicaid at the same time as the ranks of the uninsured are soaring. It appears that the “other 99.9%” are finally starting to vote accordingly, at least in these small case studies.

  4. Oh thats right the dems only increase taxes to benefit the whole, not your narrowly defined base, and there is no agriculture boondoogle or dairy pack (located mostly in the northeast, if we are getting regional)or “energy bill” or highway appropriations when the Dems are in power they are just so noble in their spending of other peoples money. Is that been the problem with the dems ? Wow man put down the Kool-Aide. Your party doesn’t even have a fiscally conservative branch.
    There is the adage that a governement who can give you everything can also take it away just as easily. Don’t sell you liberty for a few scraps from the bueacrats table or for political expediance.

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