Help on the Way? Bill Kristol Hints at “Impressive” Independent Candidate
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“Rep. Jim Cooper of Tennessee, a leader of the moderate-conservative “Blue Dogs,” called the result ‘a wake-up call for Congress. A tidal wave could be coming.’”
“Democratic pollster Peter Hart, in a memo to his clients, warned of the possible consequences of “the disappointment and disgust the American public feels toward Washington. It is as strongly negative as the period of 1979-80 and 1973-74.” Both those cycles saw wholesale changes in Congress, the Democrats benefiting in the latter and the Republicans in the former.”
“First, in the governor elections in Virginia and New Jersey, the Democratic candidate ran far behind Barack Obama’s percentages in 2008 and the Republican candidates ran ahead of George W. Bush’s percentages in 2004. The numbers are pretty daunting. In Virginia Creigh Deeds won 41% of the votes, way behind Barack Obama’s 53% in 2008. And in New Jersey Democratic incumbent Jon Corzine won 45% of the votes, way behind Obama’s 57% in 2008.
“In contrast, the Republican candidates won higher percentages than Bush won in the recent high-water mark of the Republican party in 2004. Republican Bob McDonnell won 59% in Virginia, well ahead of Bush’s 54%. And Republican Chris Christie won 49%, ahead of Bush’s 46%. On the basis of these numbers you could say—in races where the issues were reasonably congruent though not identical to national issues—that Democrats were performing far below their recent optimal levels and Republicans were performing well above them.”
”In the 2008 elections three Democrats captured three previously Republican congressional districts in Virginia, giving Democrats six or the eleven-member delegation.
“The results of the gubernatorial election show that at least some of these Democrats are imperiled.
“In the 2nd congressional district, where Democrat Glenn Nye beat Republican incumbent Thelma Drake 52%-47%, McDonnell beat Deeds 62%-38%. In the 5th congressional district, where Democrat Tom Perriello beat Republican incumbent Virgil Goode 50.01%-49.85%, or a margin of 727 popular votes, the lowest in the country, McDonnell beat Deeds 61%-39%. In the 11th congressional district, where Democrat Gerry Connally won 55%-43% a district vacated by Republican incumbent Tom Davis, McDonnell beat Deeds 55%-45%. And the southwest, coal-producing “Fighting Ninth,” represented since 1982 by Democrat Rick Boucher, voted 67%-33% for McDonnell.
“I cannot imagine that Congressmen Nye, Perriello, Connally and Boucher have not already accessed the websites which have shown the position of their constituents in a contest which, while like all governorship contests has its own specific features, was also in its contrast on issue positions reasonably congruent with those prevailing on national issues. And I can certainly respond with sympathy if any or all of these incumbents responded to these numbers with a two-word comment of which I will relay only the first word which is, “Oh.”
“The 2009 election results are certainly not going to make it easy for Speaker Nancy Pelosi to round up the needed 218 votes for Democrats’ health care bills.”
“I realize the Democrats will try to take comfort from what happened in New York’s 23rd District. If they find some relief from their acute distress, fine. But the significance of what happened in two states dwarfs what happened in a single district, facing quite unusual circumstances.”
“There is a lot of frightening data for Democrats to sort through, but among the most alarming is this: both Bob McDonnell and Chris Christie won independents by enormous margins (McDonnell carried 63 percent of independent voters, while Christie carried 58 percent of them, according to exit polls). Whatever problems the Republican “brand” still has — and they are real and still need to be addressed — candidates running as Republicans have shown an impressive ability to win over independents. And winning elections is the name of the game.
“Bush-bashing is passé. Both Creigh Deeds and Jon Corzine tried making their races a referendum on George W. Bush. The former got crushed and the latter suffered a humiliating loss in a state deeply sympathetic to his party. More broadly, voters, facing very serious times, are looking for serious, mature political figures to rally around. And they have little patience for small-minded, petty, and diversionary tactics. Creigh Deeds’s effort to make the race a referendum about Bob McDonnell’s graduate-school thesis failed badly; so did Jon Corzine’s effort to make the New Jersey vote a referendum on Chris Christie’s waistline.
“Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod lost a whole lot of political luster based on last night’s results. Emanuel’s counsel that no crisis should be allowed to go to waste — meaning that President Obama should use the economic crisis he faced to push for a massive expansion in the size, scope, and reach of the state — looks to have been a massive strategic error.”
“A few weeks ago, Barron’s columnist Andrew Bary had it exactly right: The financial-meltdown emergency is over. Yet the Fed persists in running an emergency money-creating policy with a zero target rate that is completely inappropriate as the economy moves into a mild recovery. The Fed seems to think that too many people working is inflationary, and that with today’s high unemployment it’s okay to keep priming the money pump. This is nuts.
“Inflation is caused by bad money as the result of excess money-creation — that is, the creation of dollars that the global markets do not want, just as we’re creating government bonds that the same markets don’t want. Financial, currency, and commodity-price signals are telling the Fed that they are way off course. But Bernanke won’t listen.”
“Unlike the New York City mayoral, or the Virginia governor’s race, there is a really bad sign for Democrats out of the East Coast. Via The New York Times, Republicans made inroads in New York’s suburbs. “In Westchester County, where Democrats have a solid advantage in voter registration, a Republican challenger, Rob Astorino, upset the incumbent Democratic County Executive, Andrew Spano, who was seeking his fourth term … In Nassau County, Republicans recaptured the county legislature, and have come close to unseating the Democratic County Executive, Thomas R. Suozzi, in a race that remained too close to call on Wednesday morning.”
“Why does this matter so much? Because the New York suburbs epitomize the new Blue America. Twenty-some-odd years ago, the economically diverse, but generally affluent, suburbs in Westchester and Long Island represented the success of the Reagan Revolution. White ethnics, often Catholic, whose parents had lived in the city and voted Democratic, were turning to Republicans for lower taxes, strong national security, and traditional family values. But the New York suburbs led the way back to Democratic dominance, arguably presaging the Obama coalition. Pro-gun-control candidates such as Rep. Carolyn McCarthy from Long Island started picked up seats in the 1990s. Growing diversity and concerns about education in the postindustrial economy helped lead to Democratic inroads in local races.”
“Voter revulsion at trillion-dollar deficits and impatience about unemployment is creating a toxic environment for the Obama White House and congressional Democrats. Major legislative items like healthcare, energy and financial reform are already slipping into next year.
“History suggests that incumbent parties who get big things done, get them done in the first year of a presidential term, such as the Reagan tax cuts or Clinton’s successful push for NAFTA. Midterm election years are where big policy dreams turn into nightmares, such ashealthcare reform in 1994.
“It’s hard to imagine that the 84 House Democrats from districts won by either John McCain in 2008 or President Bush in 2004 are now more inclined to support either an expensive health plan or a cap-and-trade energy plan. Already Democrats are hinting at shrinking the former and putting the latter on the backburner. (One policy that might get more attention is a second stimulus package to create more jobs.)
“Tuesday’s election results are a roadmap for political gridlock in Washington and a possible Democratic electoral disaster in 2010.
“A respected political forecasting model by Ray Fair Yale University calculates that Democrats and Republicans should split the 2010 vote because of the economy. If that scenario unfolds, then David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report, according to an interview with The Hill, thinks “Republicans will probably be winning back the House.”