Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Election post-mortem

Some thoughts and observations regarding Scott Brown's victory in the Massachusetts Senate race:
  • First off, let's appreciate how deeply blue Massachusetts is. Here's a graphic of how the state voted in the 1972 election featuring George McGovern. Obama won the state with a 26 percent margin. Its governor is a Democrat. Both of its senators are Democrats. All of its House members are Democrats. There are only 21 Republicans in the entire state legislature, out of 200 members!
  • Coakley ran an unusually gaffe-prone and mistake filled campaign. She also took a six day vacation in late December. Bet she wishes she had that back.
  • Brown's operation was near perfect, not only in terms of style -- sunny and optimistic -- but also substance. He opened his campaign with a call for across the board tax cuts and was unambiguous in his opposition to ObamaCare. He did not win by trying to out-Democrat the Democrat in this deep blue state.
  • Equally important Brown soft-pedaled social issues, declining to campaign on items such as abortion or gay marriage. While he is by no means a libertarian, this approach of emphasizing fiscal issues and opposition to expanded government combined with placing social issues on the sideline is one Republicans would do well to embrace.
  • Clearly the advent of the tea party movement last year was a leading indicator of the deep dissatisfaction with the Democratic agenda. Derided as a collection of racist, reactionary, right-wing mutants, the tea partiers are instead proving to be a bellwether. Thank you Rick Santelli.
  • Democrats can ignore the tea parties and ignore the polls, but they can't ignore what is now a string of political reverses. It may be difficult to admit, but people simply don't like their agenda.
  • We've been here before. In 1993-94 a Democratic Congress and White House attempted to foist a radical left-wing agenda on the American people which consisted, among other things, of tax increases, gun control and government-run health care. We all know what that did for the Democratic party's political fortunes.
  • Scott Rasmussen, whose polling actually underestimated the Republican performance in the Virginia and New Jersey governor races last year, also was the first pollster to detect the shifting momentum in Massachusetts. At some point Democrats are going to have to start respecting the man's polling, especially in the presidential daily tracking poll.
  • In two years Scott Brown will have as much political experience as Barack Obama when Obama announced his candidacy for the White House.
  • Republicans a regional party? Scott Brown and the governor of New Jersey beg to differ.
  • If President Obama actually responds, as Politico reported this week, to a Brown election by doubling down on his agenda Democrats are simply going to be massacred this November. It's going to get ugly.
  • Ben Nelson, if a Republican can be elected Senator in Massachusetts, you can certainly be replaced in Nebraska.

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