If you’re a Liberal or Progressive or just a vanilla Democrat who has been thinking about an electoral rout this fall, congratulations, you’re a member of the elite. I can’t really estimate how many of us there are, but the fact is that most of the nation did not really start paying attention to the 2010 election cycle until after Jerry Lewis brought his Labor Day telethon to a close.
Sure there was lots of polling that said people were pissed at the government, who wouldn’t be when there is nearly 10% unemployment and things don’t seem to be getting measurably better for millions of people? The "Throw the Bums Out!" sentiment is always strongest before the vast majority of the people start paying attention to the actual candidates they have to choose between. That is part of why the generic ballot polling is almost useless. We don’t get to pick between Democrat and Republican, we get to pick between two (or occasionally more) real people who speak and have a record we can judge.
"Originally posted at Squarestate.net"
This is where the political rubber meets the road. For all their structural advantages (bad economy, large majorities some of which are from very conservative districts, midterm election without the White House) the Republicans should be looking at a sweep. The thing is they still have not learned the lessons of the 2006 and 2008 elections. Americans don’t want rabid conservatives; they want some representation that will solve their problems. This leaves the Republicans out in the cold.
The surge in the Tea Party candidates has really endangered what should be a fairly straight forward political cycle for the Republicans. It is one thing to have one or two kook candidates, there are some in almost every cycle, but the Republicans (with the help or maybe it is hindrance of the Tea Party) have nominated a slate of kooks so strong that it has become the national face of the Republican Party. Whether it is the witchcraft dabbling, anti-masturbation crusading, serial resume padding Christine O’Donnell or the "rape victims should just make lemons into lemonade" Sharon Angle or even the self-funding illegal immigrant hiring Meg Whitman the story is the same. They are wicky-in-the-whacky-woo.
When it comes down to having to choose between real live candidates the general public (defined as people unlike you and I who have been obsessing about this for months) is not really pleased with the idea of voting for someone they see as foaming at the mouth. This cycle there is a clear choice between the incumbent and often fractious Democrats and the mad dog Republicans.
It is not that Republicans have not had the views that are getting so much press before, they have always been way further to the right than the nation as a whole, it is that they unable to play the "moderate" card this time. Historically Republicans have been able to bamboozle voters by talking in platitudes and code, leaving those who don’t pay a lot of attention to think that the Democrats are too lefty and thus they choose the Republicans. The difference this cycle is the Tea Party has made Republicans unable or unwilling to play that card. Just take a look at what Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) said just this last Sunday at conference of pastors:
In addition to reiterating anti-choice talking points on abortion and backing "traditional marriage," according to the Spartanburg Herald-Journal, the senator went further and "said if someone is openly homosexual, they shouldn't be teaching in the classroom and he holds the same position on an unmarried woman who's sleeping with her boyfriend -- she shouldn't be in the classroom."
This is what passes for leadership in the Republican Party these days. Sen. DeMint is part of the driving force behind candidates like Ken Buck in Colorado and Joe Miller in Alaska. He has been unapologetic in pushing forward the most extreme of Republican candidates. Sen. DeMint probably thinks that this is the way to win, he grew up in Republican politics when the dominate meme is fire up the base and win by 50% plus one vote. It is a strategy that worked well for a long time, but it has the draw back of diminishing returns.
Anger can be an addiction. Just like any addiction feeding it requires more and more to get the same level of affect. In conservative politics with its meme of "less taxes and government is always the problem" this gets you to a place where candidates can talk with a straight face about "Second Amendment remedies" if conservatives don’t win. It allows folks like Rep. Michele Bachmann to continue to argue that members of the Congress are un-American and hardly anyone bats an eye.
This level of nuttiness has its cost though. Sure everyone will have to decide between the candidates in their state or district, but when so many of the nationally known Republicans are clearly batshit insane it makes even low information voters start to question all Republicans. This is a real problem as when they start to look at what the platforms all Republicans are running on are, they find they don’t like what they see.
The fact is the Republicans are promising a return to the policies that got us in this mess in the first place. The American people may be slow to learn but once they decide that a group of policies don’t work, they tend to hang on to that idea for long time. While there may be a justifiable mood of anger in the nation that does not mean that we are ready, as a people, to go back to the policies and party that made the mess in the first place. In recent days we have seen the polling in many elections as well as the nearly useless generic ballot improve for Democrats.
Does this mean everything is coming up roses for the Democrats? Hardly, however, the most recent polling shows that the Republicans may have peaked before the low info voters really started looking at the election. There is a lot of narrowing in the races where Republicans were supposed to romp home. This is bad trend just 30 day before the election. If the Democrats can run strong campaigns, keep punching at the extremism of the Republicans then they have a chance to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Will they do it? As a life long Democrat from a political family I have learned never to underestimate the ability of my beloved Dems to step on their own dicks. Still things are looking up form a month ago. Every election has to be run, and won. The only time you are sure to lose is when you are 100% sure you will win and you run accordingly. Nothing is set in stone.
The good news is that the Democrats could lose 30 seats in the House and 5 in the Senate and it would still be seen as a massive defeat for the Republicans. At this point there is nothing to do but work our butts off to keep people like Sen. DeMint and his regressive social ideas from taking power. It hand them a defeat, to slap that smug face electorally is a good start to making this a nation we can be proud of where people are not judged on narrow religious values, but as free citizens.
The floor is yours.