About the Results

I don’t have a lot of time to write something long and insightful, but here are some random thoughts —

First, I got a kick out of this headline at Real Clear Politics yesterday — “2010: Anti-Incumbent, Anti-Liberal, or Anti-Democrat?” Biased, much? Yesterday, this guy was predicting a 50-seat loss in the House for Dems in November. He hasn’t yet commented today.

I didn’t watch much of the television coverage, but when I did flip to MSNBC I saw that even as results were coming in Howard Fineman was still expecting the Dems to be flattened by a Republican tsunami in November. Fineman is something of a weather vane of the conventional wisdom of Beltway Insiders, so it’ll be fun to see if he changes his position in the next few days.

As usual, the most informative analysis comes from Nate Silver, who discusses why most of the conventional wisdom about yesterday’s results are off-base. In short, much of the national significance many are trying to see in the results is an illusion, a parallax effect, if you will. Most of the winners ran localized races and appealed to their voters for many local reasons.

In some ways, the biggest loser yesterday may have been Tim Burns, the Republican who lost to Mark Critz in the special election for the Pennsylvania 12sth district House seat. Polling numbers had made it a close race, and there were all kinds of indicators that the district was ready to vote for a Republican. The voters there are culturally conservative and voted for McCain in 2008. The NRCC dumped a bunch of money into the election, thinking they could pick off a Dem seat. Yet the Dem won by almost 10 points. The NRCC is perplexed.

“If you can’t win a seat that is trending Republican in a year like this, then where is the wave?” asked Tom Davis, a former Republican congressman from Virginia, who said Republicans will need to examine what went wrong.

I believe the lesson here, if the GOP can accept it, is that even conservative voters (with the exception of the teabaggers) are getting tired of the Republican Clown Show. I’ve read that Burns’s campaign was highly nationalized and featured many silly cartoons of Nancy Pelosi. Joan Walsh notes that it made Burns look as if he had mommy issues. It’s also about the fifth time that the GOP has run against Nancy Pelosi and lost.

I postulate that if Burns had presented himself as a serious grown-up and addressed genuine local issues, the election would at least have been closer. And I propose that most voters, people who are not that into politics, don’t give a hoo-haw one way or another about Nancy Pelosi.

Steven Benen writes,

For those keeping score, there have been seven special elections for U.S. House seats since the president’s inauguration 16 months ago: NY20, IL5, CA32, CA10, NY23, FL19, and PA12. Democrats have won all seven.

Right now, I’d say the safest bet is that Republicans will pick up some seats in the House and Senate in November, but not enough to gain majorities. But a lot depends on whether the GOP learns some lessons and changes campaign strategies for November.

11 thoughts on “About the Results

  1. maha,
    I don’t know that they can change strategies now even if they wanted to. They banked everything on obstructing anything and everything, with a light steeping of teabaggers for spice, and to fire up their conservative base. They may have steeped the teabaggers too much and/or too long, and that may, or will, come to bite them in the ass.
    Because now, if they do decide to tack slightly to the center and away from complete obstruction, they will weaken their conservative/teabag base, and may show an obtuse general public that they have, in fact, had no agenda for the last year+ but to obstruct.
    They bought the ‘Crazy ticket,’ they had the ‘Crazy ticket’ punched, and now they’re on the “Crazy train’ headed for “Crazy Town.” It turns out they may gave created an express train, when what they really might have wanted was a local. I don’t see how they can get off now.
    Mitch and Boehner have their work cut out for them after last night in KY’s Senate and Congressional primaries. They got their asses handed to them. And we’ll see how well the churlish and petulant Rand does in the general. He may not wear too well on people who aren’t full goose bozo. The KY seat could end up on the “D” side of the great divide.

    As a side note, I do polling for a mostly Republican outfit, and believe me, if the people I call watch FOX News, or listen to Rush, Sean, or Glenn, they know and loathe Nancy Pelosi, in some cases even more than President Obama. It’s the Independents who may not know too much about her.

  2. As a side note, I do polling for a mostly Republican outfit, and believe me, if the people I call watch FOX News, or listen to Rush, Sean, or Glenn, they know and loathe Nancy Pelosi,

    As a nitpick, I’ll say “they know the name of Nancy Pelosi, and loathe her.”

    Whether they “know her” is a very different question.

  3. “For those keeping score, there have been seven special elections for U.S. House seats since the president’s inauguration 16 months ago: NY20, IL5, CA32, CA10, NY23, FL19, and PA12. Democrats have won all seven.”

    Too bad that just doesn’t quite fit the liberal media’s “horse race battle for America” mentality, cause thats a dam good story to tell!

  4. Considering the fact that most of us have to live in this country that was so truly screwed by the eight years of Republican rule under W, I do not understand how any one could vote Republican for a while.

  5. Let’s hope that the Republicans don’t learn a single lesson from all this and keep doing the same stupid stuff they have been doing for years. Yeah, I think running against the Evil Nancy Pelosi is a wonderful strategy.

  6. Looking at the results of last night’s elections, it’s hard to decide which way the wind is blowing. Specter was endorsed by Obama and the democratic machine. He lost. Mitch McConnell had a hand-picked favorite in the KY race – he lost to Rand Paul by 24 points. From these opposite results, one might surmise that outsiders win. In PA, a former aide to Murtha inherited the seat – which contradicts the outsider narrative handily.

    I wrote a blog – http://hubpages.com/hub/Horns-of-a-Dilemma and this election may bear out what I said.

    “The candiate has the advantage who can connect with the …voter on principle – on character. Not issues. You can be for Health Care Reform or against it – but you have to convince the voter you have THEIR interests at heart in the stand you take. Honesty, integrity, clarity – these are the qualities that will make or break an election in 2010. Not party – not gender – not race – not issues. A lot of professional candidates will self-destruct in this environment.”

  7. Doug,
    Interesting. So, in a sense, sincerity might actually be important? Most politicians don’t do “sincere.” They can drum up bombastic, petulant and whiny at the drop of a hat.
    But, “Honesty, integrity, clarity?” Political Homey’s don’t play that game…
    If this is a new trend, Doug, I’m all for it. From your mouth to God’s ear.

  8. CUND Gulag said –

    “If this is a new trend, Doug, I’m all for it.”

    Yes and no. Specter was the packaged candidate. So was the clown that Rand Paul beat. Rand and Ron are both sincere – bat-shit crazy but sincere. So is Sarah Palin. That’s the downside of evaluating candidates on character without considering issues. Brown, the teabagger from MA has turned out to be a pragmatic moderate. Go figure. But the truly professional politician who can argue for the Gold Standard in the morning and be just as convincing against the Gold Standard at a different afternoon meeting.. is an endangered species. November may usher into the District of Columbia the most eclectic group of wierdos since they opened the zoo.

  9. I just saw Rachel Maddow interviewing Rand Paul.
    He can’t seem to answer a simple question.
    I don’t see how anyone can get behind him.

  10. OT but re Rand Paul. I understand that Brown, the teabagger Senator from MA campaigned for Rand in KY. When Palin was in Boston with her circus, Brown snubbed her – even though he was in town at the time.

    IF Rand Paul is of the Libertarian branch of teabaggers – and Sarah Palin the evangelical branch of teabaggers, is Brown’s no-show at when Sarah was in Boston an indication of a power struggle? If yes, how will it play in the next 5 months?

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