Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The most important election so far in 2010

Check out this news about Idaho. No, it's not another potato famine. The western 1/3 of the state (including Moscow, the university town) elected a Democrat in 2008 for the first time since the glaciers retreated out of Jellystone. That man, Walter Minnick, who votes like a Republican anyway, is on the top 10 targeted list for the Republicans trying to win seats in the House. Their candidate, Vaughn Ward, lost in the Republican primary to an unknown local. A GOP wave in the Fall - not if GOP candidates are being rejected by their own base. You have to recall that the GOP is always more top-down in its organization than the Dems: they tend to follow party directives and support establishment candidates with far more regularity. As one wag put it with primaries, Republicans fall in line, Democrats fall in love. Not in 2010, it doesn't seem.

Put together with what happened in PA-12 and various other races, it's becoming clear that voters aren't in an anti-Washington mood, anti-Obama mood or any of that spin: they want to vote for outsiders, period. A pox on both your parties. Compare this to 2008 and 2006 when DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Cmte) easily got its candidates through the primaries to the general almost everywhere. In 2008 and 2006, the GOP brand name was mud. In 1994, it was gold. The brand name isn't worth that much today, not by a long shot.

This bodes ill for incumbents, who are ipso facto establishment candidates, but not necessarily for Democrats only. In the Senate too, it suggests that Bill Halter (AR) and Sestak (PA) may do better than their establishment foes (the party-picked Boozman and Toomey) because they are perceived as rebels and giant-killers already. Both races are supposed to be easy GOP pickups right now. Don't count on it.

It's also not clear where Obama's popularity or lack thereof falls in all this. Is Obama the ultimate establishment figure? Not necessarily. His continuing popularity (in every poll except Rasmussen) is a testament to the fact that many Dems, at least, perceive of Obama as an anti-establishment candidate, as he was in 2008. This means that Obama campaigning for a Democrat may help turn out the base far more than, apparently, any GOP leader can do for their own party's favored candidates. What doesn't work is Obama coming in at the last minute to anoint the chosen candidate (MA Senate, NJ Gov, VA Gov) as the establishment favorite.

So this Idaho-1st district GOP primary confirms what we have been learning about why 2010 will not look like 1994. Dems may lose seats, but there will be surprising GOP defeats too. It looks good for Rand Paul and bad for Harry Reid. Good for Charlie Crist, who managed to go from establishment to outsider in a moment, by walking out of his party parimary. Good for anyone perceived as a rebel. John McCain is going to have the primary fight of his life in AZ. And the public wants action, not obstruction. The public wants to vote for rebels who will shake up Washington, not for filibusters. The result will be significant but not catastrophic Democratic losses - say 15-20 (mostly blue dog) seats in the House and 4 or 5 Senate seats.

In fact, if I were the DSCC or DCCC, I would consider finding ways to secretly promote insurgent candidates over incumbents in primaries, perhaps by defunding the incumbents or being nonresponsive to them. Andrew Romanoff for Senate in Colorado, for instance, should be the pick, not Bennett.

Think also of what this means: it means a more polarized Washington. Rebels are almost always (though not always, see WV) less centrist than the existing candidate. I predict the new Senate leaders in 2011 will be Chuck Schumer and Jim DeMint.

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