Primaries are my favorite part of the election cycle. Yes, I’m a dork! And like every other dorky political junkie, I was watching yesterdays primaries closely. Here’s what happened in my estimation; nothing surprising.
I get that cable news has to make it all sound like we saw a stunning upset last night. Boring elections make for lower ratings, and fewer reasons to roll out the pundits. But nothing unpredictable happened yesterday.
Everyone is focused in Pennsylvania for some reason. To me, Pennsylvania was the least remarkable result yesterday. But the focus on Pennsylvania is a means to “scrutinize” the Obama administrations efficacy in getting people elected. Personally, I don’t believe that Specter’s loss last night had very much to do with Obama. I think that Specter’s chances of winning a democratic primary after switching parties was compromised right from the beginning. It just seemed like such a self serving maneuver. He was going to have a hard time overcoming that all along. I phone banked into Philly on behalf of the Sestak campaign. I was surprised at how many people had no idea who Sestak was, even a week before the election. Specter’s loss wasn’t about Obama, and it wasn’t about Sestak. It was about Specter. I believe that he lost because he couldn’t overcome the impression that he’s self serving, and because he fell victim to the anti-incumbent fervor that we’re seeing across the country.
The Mark Critz victory was no more a referendum against republicans than the Specter loss was a referendum against Obama. Mark Critz is the democrat that ran for Jack Murtha’s congressional seat in Pennsylvania. This is a decidedly democratic district that, for some reason, republicans thought they had a chance at grabbing. I have no idea what they were thinking! This is not a district that republicans would normally dump money into. The fact that they did this time, tells me that they are completely out of touch with what’s going on in the country. Republicans lost a race that they never had a chance of winning. There was no “statement” being made here by the voters in that district.
The Rand Paul victory was the most interesting thing that happened last night, even though it wasn’t a surprise to anyone that was watching the polls. It wasn’t interesting because of the tea party angle (not to me, anyway). It was interesting because Mitch McConnell was the real loser yesterday. When the candidate backed by the leading republican in the senate loses in his own state lost by twenty four points, I’d say that a message was being sent. Mitch McConnell got spanked last night. I don’t know Kentucky politics all that well so I can’t speak to how much of this victory was a tea party thing, versus a “Ron Paul’s son” thing. But I do think that it’s clear that republicans are not happy with the republican party.
I feel like the republican strategy of obstructing and obfuscating is blowing up in their faces. They should have taken the 2006 and 2008 elections to heart and realized that they are a broken party. They should have rehabbed themselves by going back to the basic tenets of conservatism. They should have come up with creative solutions to remedy the enormous problems they created during the Bush years. And most of all, they should have done a mea culpa for having lost their way. They should have been working hard to show the American people that they learned a lesson and were prepared to massively change course. But instead of doing any of that, they chose to pretend that they made no mistakes. They adopted a strategy of waiting for the democrats to suck more than republicans have. They decided to do everything they could to make the democrats look bad, rather than to elevate themselves.
Mitch McConnell was one of the chief architects of this strategy, and I believe that Kentucky sent him a message yesterday. Maybe I’m being a sunny optimist here, but I feel like republicans aren’t happy with their party taking the “we may suck, but they suck more” approach.
I have to admit that I was surprised that Blanche Lincoln didn’t win last night. Not because I like her, I actually think she’s a flaming piece of crap. But she’s a “conservative” piece of crap, who is actually perfectly suited for the political landscape in Arkansas. I thought that she would win the primary, and then lose the general election.
Onto my prediction for November.
I do believe that democrats are going to lose seats. Historically speaking, it’s a foregone conclusion. But I don’t believe that democrats are going to lose control of either the house or the senate. The number of seats lost will ultimately rely on job creation. If Obama can create a million jobs between now and November, I believe that the total loss of seats will be around twenty. I think that if they create NO jobs between now and November, they will lose around thirty seats, which still keeps them in control of the senate and the house.
I just don’t see a huge anti-democrat ground swell out there. Not because democrats have been great on anything, but because republicans haven’t done anything to make themselves more attractive to voters. I anything, they’ve dug their heels into their crappiness. When given the option of choosing between a heaping, stinky pile of turds and a slightly less aromatic and smaller pile of crap, you have to pick the lesser of two evils.
And sucking less is what will keep democrats in power or more accurately, in a majority state of powerlessness.