Restating The Obvious

Power Line has an interesting piece on a Washington Post story that reveals that the GOP’s political goal hinges around – gasp! – winning the fall midterm elections. As John Hinderaker notes:

On reflection, though, the title may not be as silly as it sounds. One would think that electoral victory is the chief, if not sole, object of any political party. Yet it sometimes seems as if the Democrats are pursuing some other agenda, as they dominate Hollywood, Washington and New York, but generally lose most of the rest of America.

That’s the fear that underlines the Post’s analysis: that those pesky Republicans will somehow be able to pull a rabbit out of the hat and stymie the paper’s beloved Democrats once again. Which is quite likely to happen, I think.

I’m not so sanguine about the GOP’s chances, but as Hinderaker points out, they do have one big advantage: they’re running against Democrats:

The Democrats have a real problem on subjects like the Hayden nomination. Because almost all of the press is loyal to them, they can easily generate negative headlines and misleading (or outright false) stories implying that the NSA programs, for example, are illegal or dangerous to civil liberties. But then comes the hard part: they have to take a position. Do they really want to go on record as saying that the NSA shouldn’t be spying on al Qaeda, and doing its best to intercept its communications? No, they don’t. So we have the weird spectacle of DNC Chairman Howard Dean sending out emails denouncing Hayden and demanding that his nomination be rejected, while Senate Democrats are pretty uniformly praising him and saying that he will be confirmed easily. Once again, the Republicans can take comfort from the fact that they don’t run for election against newspaper headlines; they run against Democrats.

The essential problem the Democrats have is that what excites their base turns off everyone else. The Democrats think that because Bush’s approval ratings are in the toilet that everyone drinks their anti-Bush Kool-Aid. That line of logic assumes that thinking that Bush is doing a bad job is enough to get people to vote for Democrats. That just isn’t in the case – there are plenty of conservatives who are angry at Bush but have no intention of letting the Democrats near the majority in November. The Democrats keep trying to run against Bush, but that just isn’t enough. They have to have some semblance of an alternative, and the Democrats offer nothing but retreat in Iraq and war at home. Their sense of petty and vituperative partisanship is all they have.

Granted, the GOP is hardly doing much better, but at least the Republican Party has some semblance of an agenda, which puts them ahead of the curve. In the end, it all comes down to candidates and issues. The GOP’s candidate recruitment has not been great, but the Democrats aren’t doing that much better. It’s quite possible, even probable that the Democrats will make gains in the House, but the Senate is shaping up fairly well for the Republicans, especially with Tom Kean in New Jersey, Michael Steele in Maryland, and Mark Kennedy in Minnesota. The Democrats have the tendency to put their feet firmly in their mouths, and with “Howlin'” Howard Dean as the Democratic National Chairman, there’s plenty of room for the Democrats to embarrass themselves even more.

The Democrats offer a referendum on someone who isn’t even on the ballot: the Republicans are trying to offer a real choice. As bad as the GOP’s political fortunes are at the moment, that fundamental difference exposes why the Democrats are simply unfit to lead.

6 thoughts on “Restating The Obvious

  1. “The essential problem the Democrats have is that what excites their base turns off everyone else”
    And as Exhibit A, I give you…………………DNC Chairman Howard Dean

  2. Up until the past month, I was becoming sanguine about the Democrats’ prospects as efforts to expand the battleground were resulting in one step forward (resurrecting Ken Lucas from the political graveyard in KY-04, seats opening in AZ-08 and NY-24) and one step back (Tom DeLay retiring, Iraq war veteran Tim Dunn deciding not to run in NC-08). But the early results from these early primaries has restored my faith in the electorate.

    In Ohio, for instance, even with a contested gubernatorial primary at the top of the ticket (Ken Blackwell vs. Jim Petro), Republican turnout was actually lower than Democratic turnout, even though the Democrats didn’t have any top-tier statewide primary contests. That same night in Indiana, uncontested or lightly contested Democratic challengers in battleground races IN-08 and IN-09 handily outperformed Republican incumbents, and the aggregate of Democratic challengers outperformed incumbent GOPer Chris Chocola in IN-02.

    Then last week, the Republicans got a real scare in Pennsylvania as nine GOP state legislators, including two in leadership positions were ousted in the primary, producing the second anti-conservative incumbent purge in Pennsylvania in the last six months (the first being the Intelligent Design hacks from the deep-red Dover School Board all losing their jobs). Meanwhile, adulterous “Pennsylvania Strangler” Don Sherwood pulled off only 56% of the vote in a primary against a neophyte challenger who was a Democrat up until the day she decided to contest Sherwood in the GOP primary. The weakened Sherwood, thought to be in a safe GOP seat in the Poconos, now has to face off against a strong Democratic challenger to hold his seat. Likewise, Democrats outperformed GOP incumbents in primaries even in presumably safe GOP districts (PA-04–Melissa Hart, PA-18–Tim Murphy). I’m very excited to prepare for the body count in the third round of the Pennsylvania Purge in November.

    As for the Senate, the Republicans will almost certainly hold the body, but expect to lose at least two seats in Pennsylvania and Montana (unless Bob Keenan can topple radioactive Conrad Burns in the primary), with additional defeats strongly possible in Missouri, Ohio, and Rhode Island. The three most vulnerable Dem-held Senate seats don’t worry me much, especially Maryland where most polls now show Steele trailing Cardin by double digits. Kennedy still has a chance against Klobuchar in Minnesota, but the stars don’t seem to be aligning very well for him thus far. New Jersey may be the GOP’s best chance, but Democrats always seem to overperform expectations (as opposed to, say, Florida) when the election actually comes around. Corzine was able to surge to victory last year by suggesting Doug Forrester would be a Bush ally. If that ploy worked in a gubernatorial race, it will almost certainly work in a U.S. Senate race against Kean.

    Overall, I’m reasonably confident with the Democrats’ standing looking at these early primary numbers, and things will really be looking up if Francine Busby pulls out a victory against Brian Bilbray in CA-50’s June 6 special election. The turnout among independents in November is key to Democratic chances though. I’m not optimistic about the long-cited MSM talking point that Republicans will be “too demoralized to head to the polls this November”, meaning the election will hinge almost upon independents turning out, and then voting overwhelmingly Democrat when they do. And if the GOP’s only strategy is to hold up national Democratic figures with low name recognition as dealbreaking bogeymen, they’re gonna find themselves reeling everywhere but the South where that ploy is likely to continue working.

  3. Joaquin, running against Howard Dean, the friggin’ chairman of the Democratic National Committee, is stupid politics. Can you imagine the Democrats attempting to directly run against Ken Mehlman, the GOP party chair and attempting to spin the premise that he wields any political authority?

  4. Joaquin, running against Howard Dean, the friggin’ chairman of the Democratic National Committee, is stupid politics.

    I wouldn’t say so. All you have to do is ask a candidate “Do you support <INSERT STUPID STATEMENT BY DEAN HERE>? Would you like to either distance yourself from your own friggin’ party chairman or join in his unending three-ring circus of political inanity? Or would you like to sputter on and issue a half-retraction that it look like you’re trying to talk out of both sides of your mouth?” (Being a bit more diplomatic about it, of course…)

  5. Jay, even the dimmest of bulbs know that the DNC Chairman has no hand in making policy. Dean’s mouth can get him in a lot of trouble, but I can’t imagine that attempts to re-elect Rick Santorum or Mike DeWine will be aided by Republicans’ desperate injections of the Democrats’ top party fundraiser into the debate. If your party is playing that much of a defensive game, the game is already likely lost. While the weak Democratic leadership is certainly the GOP’s secret weapon, the message I’m getting is that Reid/Pelosi couldn’t possibly be more inept than the clowns running the show right now, a point which the GOP is hardly dissuading with the current hamhanded immigration debate.

  6. In Utah, I can’t find much good debate on the immigration topic. I’ll take anything, even hyperbole. Seriously, if illegal immigrants are good for the economy, by driving down wages, then why not have as many of them as possible?

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