This is it, folks. The one. The final piece of straw set atop the shambling camel of the GOP, the one which clove its dessicated humps in two.
Only it's more like a ton of bricks crushing the Republican roach.
Let's take stock of this race to see what I mean:
- This district has a PVI of R+10. It voted for Bush 62-37 in the last election. Only seven Democrats sit in comparably red seats - and not a single Republican sits in a seat as blue as this one is red. And almost every major prognosticator (at least at the start) treated this as a safe seat.
- The GOP had a perfectly serviceable candidate in Greg Davis - a standard wingnut with none of the baggage of Woody Jenkins in LA-06 or Jim Oberweis in IL-14.
- The NRCC spent $1.3 million on this race. Freedom's Crotch spent at least $400K more - and used illegal tactics to boot. And of course Davis himself raised over a million.
- They sent in Mike Huckabee, Thad Cochran, Trent Lott, Haley Barbour, and Roger Wicker.
- And when that wasn't enough, Darth Cheney came to town, to stump and raise money.
- The GOP played up Obama/Pelosi/"librul" fear-mongering to the hilt. They were shameless in exploiting whatever racial angle they thought would work.
And yet what happened? Despite all this, Travis Childers just became the newest member of the Democratic Caucus with a resounding 54-46 win. It's utterly unspinnable. Even Tom Cole knew not to try.
But a sober press release only sees him through a single night. At dawn the next day, he has to face the same vast universe of problems that existed even before Childers won, except they will loom much larger and much more sharply. Almost every potentially contestable Republican seat is in play now. The "every man for himself" mentality that has taken hold amongst the GOP will become even more firmly entrenched, dooming already-weak NRCC fundraising. In Congress, discipline will likely suffer as vulnerable members (ie, much of the caucus) are tempted to side with the Dems. And we may even see some more retirements. Things are going to get much, much worse before they ever get better for the GOP - if they do at all.
For a lot of reasons, this to me is the sweetest of our three recent special election victories. But to the GOP, seldom has more bitter medicine passed their lips. Glib commentators will say that the Republican brand is tarnished. The fact is, it is the Republican Party which itself is broken.
And this election is what helped break it.