Friday, August 27, 2010

A Year of Fundamentals

I feel like this is going to be an interesting election year. On the one hand, all the fundamentals favor the GOP. The economy is down. The Presidential Party normally loses off-year elections. The Democratic Party won a ton of marginal seats in the 2006 and 2008 wave elections, and those seats would be difficult to hang onto under any circumstances. The terrain is very Republican-friendly.

Political scientists are generally rather sneering about the idea that the daily political play-by-play actually effects election results all that much. It's fundamental, macro issues (most notably the economy) which drive results.

Yet, this year, we might see a test of that hypothesis, given just how far to the right the Republican Party has decided to drift. It's not quite like the Republican Party decided to run a whole slate of Alvin Greenes, but it's close.

In state after state -- Kentucky, Nevada, Florida, and most recently Alaska -- GOP primary voters have spurned mainstream, electable candidates for folks on the furthest of the right-ward fringe. And it's turning states that should have been easy wins for the GOP into bona fide targets for the Democratic Party. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) should be dead in the water, but for the fact that 66% of Sharron Angle's own supporters regret having nominated her. Joe Miller's apparent knock-off of incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) has possibly put that Senate seat into play. In the Florida gubernatorial race, former prohibitive favorite Bill McCollum couldn't get past Rick Scott in the primary, and Democratic nominee Alex Sink has to be smiling given that McCollum apparently won't endorse Scott. A similar story prevails in the Florida Senate race, as Charlie Crist's independent bid after getting forced out of the GOP primary by Marco Rubio has thrown the entire race into flux (for the record, I'm a Charlie Crist fan, and have been since well before he dropped the GOP label). And so on and so forth.

So this is an interesting year. It really tests the question -- are fundamentals everything? Are there candidates so extreme that they can -- not just on a case-by-case basis, but systemwide -- check against the natural political gravity which is pulling hard against the Democrats this year?

It'll be interesting to find out. (Although I can't say I'm excited. Call me risk-averse, but I'd prefer a strong chance of mainstream Republicans winning than even a 50-50 chance of some of the nuts we're talking about getting their hands on the levers of power. Sharron Angle may have given Harry Reid a breath of life, but it also means we have a non-negligible prospect of Senator Sharron Angle. Scary.).


sonicfrog said...

I really would love to see Harry Reid lose, but, if that means having to see Sharron Angle win????....


sonicfrog said...

David, I added your comments to my "Can Of Worms" post. I think they are valid points you raise and should be aired.

joe said...

When Marco Rubio or Sharron Angle or whoever wins their party's primary, I take it as a strong sign that they are "mainstream Republicans" by definition.

Now, whether the views of GOP primary voters are "mainstream" to modern political thought in the US is another question. (But the answer is still probably yes, unfortunately, or they wouldn't have a 50/50 chance of winning.)

Superdestroyer said...

The establishment Republicans could have avoid most of this is the Bush Administration been the least bit competent and if the Republicans in Congress in 2001 to 2006 would have done anything to implement conservative policies.

The real problem the Democrats are having is that middle class whites who work in the private sector are not the same as blacks. Blacks, Hispanics, homosexuals, and Jews vote for the Democrats no matter who the candidate is and no matter what the Democrat did. However, conservative whites do not blindly vote for the Republican candidate. Especially after the massive failure for the Bush Administrations.

sonicfrog said...

"The establishment Republicans could have avoid most of this is the Bush Administration been the least bit competent and if the Republicans in Congress in 2001 to 2006 would have done anything to implement conservative policies. "

Except they voted for him and the Republicans in 2004. Unlike in 2000, they knew what they were getting and still voted in record numbers for a mid term. It was all GWOT, all the time! Nothing else mattered.

sonicfrog said...

PS. I voted for him in 2000 because I thought that he and the republicans in congress were going to be fiscally responsible. I did not vote for him in 2004 because they had already shown that they were not.

PPS. I'm gay, and voted for Bush.

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