The Agony of the GOP

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I dropped this news in last night's election thread, where it went mostly unnoticed: the Republicans nearly lost a House seat in Mississippi.

A conservative Democrat, Travis W. Childers, was seeking to wrest the open seat in the First Congressional District in northern Mississippi from Republicans who have held it since 1994. But Mr. Childers appeared to fall short, getting only 49 percent of the vote, according to The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson. The special election was to fill the unexpired term of Roger Wicker, who moved on to the Senate.

He fell short because you need 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff: the GOP candidate scored 46 percent. This in a district that went 62-37 for Bush over Kerry.

Childers didn't run as a liberal Democrat, of course:

At least in part, Mr. Childers was able to deflect Republican efforts to tie him to national Democratic figures held in deep suspicion here, like Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. A nursing home owner as well as the chancery clerk, or county financial administrator, Mr. Childers, 50, styled himself a Mississippi Democrat, marking a distinction with the national party, which he said he disagreed with on some issues.

Nonetheless, coming after the loss of Dennis Hastert's seat (for a potpourri of reasons that included one of the worst Republican candidates now drawing breath), it's a little striking. The Republicans' House campaign committee spent $300,000 trying to keep this seat. And fresh in my inbox there's a message from the Club for Growth: It's entering the race in Louisiana's 6th, spending $100,000 for Woody Jenkins to hold a seat that should be no sweat for Republicans.

Don Cazayoux is a lot more liberal than he says. In the Legislature, when Kathleen Blanco wanted higher taxes, Cazayoux said yes. Higher income taxes, higher taxes on groceries, Cazayoux even voted to impose a hospital tax. But what would a vote for Don Cazayoux really mean? A vote for Cazayoux is a vote to increase Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi's liberal majority in Congress.

It's another reason I'm not so sanguine about the current poll leads for John McCain. The Republican brand is wrecked, the party's spending boatloads of cash to hold onto seats Bush carried by better than 20 points.

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  1. It’s another reason I’m not so sanguine about the current poll leads for John McCain.

    Head-to-head polls won’t be accurate (at least, as accurate as polls can be) until the Obama-HillRod contest ends.

  2. There was another Democrat in the race. Betweent the two of them, they topped 50%.

    Shouldn’t John McCain be way ahead right now? Still, it is precisely because he has spent so long differentiated himself from the Republican brand that he still has a shot. We’ll see how that holds up. I suspect we’ll be seeing that photo of McCain hugging Bush at the 2004 convention once or twice between now and Novemember.

  3. Sanguine. What a great word.
    But I’m not so sanguine about Dave turning into George Will.

  4. The Republican brand is wrecked

    But Republican true believers (including many of my family members) are stuck with the notion that the majority of people secretly agree with them, despite all evidence to the contrary. So they end up thinking that if they just push their old agenda harder that people will come around. Sort of like drug policy: failure means you’ve not spent enough and success shows you should spend more.

  5. Sanguine.

    Point of Interest: also means “bloody”

  6. But Republican true believers (including many of my family members) are stuck with the notion that the majority of people secretly agree with them, despite all evidence to the contrary.

    Sounds like my family. The last time I visited them, they we’re lauding the merits of buying a house (back when the bubble still bubbled and Bush was pimping home ownership. They also tried to convince me that not voting GOP was an effective vote for HillRod.

    I had an MBA from Carnegie Mellon arguing that 1 – 1 = -1 and not 0.

    Partisanship is a mental illness on the order of schizophrenia and catholicism.

  7. The GOP is being punished. Expect the Dems to gain in both the house and senate this November. NCLB, Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit, War on Drugs, War on Porn, GW Bush is the evangelical dream personified. All approved by the GOP majorities in both houses. They deserve what is going to happen this autumn.

  8. sounds like somebody doesn’t love America and is not afraid enough for their own good. You must forgive and vote Republican or the terrorists and their DemonRat proxies will have won something or whatever….

  9. Joe maybe you couldve won this year but Op Chaos is going to ruin your chances.

    Please, Obama is a loser who cant even close the deal in primary, he wont close the deal in the general election either Joe.

    Hes a Richard Daley-style Chicago hack politician who is unable to connect to blue collar voters.

    Poor Obama, he just cant close the deal!

  10. Meanwhile, John McCain is rested, refreshed, and ready for the fall battle while the Dems are exhausted. Hes just napping right now, and hes still tied.

  11. Nneil, do you think John McCain can’t win the votes of Mormons in Utah?

    We have precisely as much evidence for that proposition as for your assertion that Obama can’t win blue collar voters in the general election.

    BTW, you only repeated the RNC talking point of the day three times there, and didn’t write a single LOL. You feeling O.K., Nostradumb-ass?

  12. I imagine his naps do him a great deal of good.

    He’s going to look terriffic sharing a stage with Barack Obama. No, really.

  13. Joe Mormons in Utah vote Republican no matter what. Theres no chance in hell they vote for Obama.

    Blue collar workers OTOH are swing voters. THATS the difference, get it? Its the reason your boys Gore and Kerry couldnt win.

    Obama has just shown even if he out-spends his oppoenent 3-1 he can’t win PA! Hows that feel?

  14. Bottom line is the Reagan Democrats have made their choice, and its Hillary.

    Youd have to be a DNC talking head or Kos Kid to think their second choice is Obama and not McCain.

  15. you can bet on these things folks, I’ve got 300 on McCain winning. Put yer money where yer mouth is folks, Oshama doesn’t stand a chance, you libs get all giddy every year. earlier comments are funny, all my lib friends just assume i think the world is ending.

  16. And blue collar Democrats vote for the Democrat. The ones who were swing voters stopped swinging eight years ago.

    Obama has just shown even if he out-spends his oppoenent 3-1 he can’t win PA! Hows that feel? Exactly the same way it felt after Hillary won Ohio, or California, or Massachusetts: like Hillary Clinton is a powerful figure, and it’s amazing that he’s beating her.

  17. Youd have to be a DNC talking head or Kos Kid to think their second choice is Obama and not McCain.

    Or be able to read a poll. Why IS McCain losing, with all this weakness in the Democratic Party, Neil?

  18. Hes not losing Joe hes tied. Tied in a year that was supposed to be some kind of landslide for the Democrat Party.

    Face it if the Clintons wanted to play nice they’d be out by now, but they’re going to go all the way to the convention and even if your boy Obama does get it theyr’e going to snipe at him the whole way through the fall.

    Bloodbath at Denver! Obama is going to have the worst run up to the convention since Carter in 1980.

    Stopped swinging 8 years ago?? Hello, 2004? BTW 25% of Clinton voters say theyll choose McCain!

    Op Chaos is working!

  19. BTW Joe is Obama going to keep his promise to use public financing since McCain agreed to do the same?

    Once again proving “words mean something” but not to him LOL.

  20. Actually, McCain is slightly behind. Obama’s razor-thin margin has held up for a couple weeks now. Whether you call that a tie or a lead, it disproves your point. If Obama was going to lose blue collar white voters by more than, say, the 14 points the Democrats lost them by in 2006, McCain would have a solid lead.

    But he’s not. In the middle of what Neil, himself, realizes is a primary fight that helps McCain, McCain still can’t create a lead.

    No wonder he was ten points behind a month ago. He’s going to be ten points behind again, within weeks of Obama pivoting to general election mode.

  21. BTW Joe is Obama going to keep his promise to use public financing since McCain agreed to do the same?

    I’m sure he will do what he promised – sit down with the Republican nominee to work out a deal on public financing and spending by outside groups. The question is whether McCain will take the offer.

    It’s a tough call for McCain – he’s getting creamed in fundraising by Obama, but wift Boat group-type ads are pretty much the GOP’s only winning card.

  22. Oh, and words certainly do matter.

    “If I am the Democratic nominee, I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election.”

  23. Dems will make big gains in Congress. But remember, that’s pitting one farty looking white dude nobody knows against another farty looking white dude nobody knows. At the national level, the Democratic Name is going to either be associated with a snotty, pompous Negro, or a a shrill, unlikeable bitch. You can bemoan the fact that such things decide elections, but given the lack of difference between the major parties, voting against Obama because he’s black is as good a reason as any other. Unless they go to plan B at the convention, the Dems screwed up a complete gimmie. I give them a 40% chance of winning the Presidency (as compared to the 99% chance of big gains in Congress).

  24. Heres why your boy wont win Joe:

    1. Culture — We arent talking about Massachusetts here. We are talking about swing states with srong portions of electorate with rurual values. Obama hasnt learned how to break through the culture of rural areas. He has disdain for the NRA. I’ve never heard him talk about NASCAR. He’s a grey poupon kinda guy…and I’m willing to bet that he has never had a Martinsville Speedway hotdog fully loaded. I’m willing to bet that he has never been to Pocono. So, you can basically write off the NASCAR dads.

    2. Catholics — For whatever reason, Obama is losing ground with ethnic voters — particularly Catholics. Jewish voters don’t trust him because of Farrahkan.

    3. Working class voters — Obama is viewed as an elitist by working class voters and his recent comments regarding bitter rural voters only added to his difficulties.

    4. Race — Unfortunately, racism still exists in this country. Sometimes we have reverse racism. Sometimes we have old fashioned white on black racism. Every black candidate has encountered it from Mayor Bradley to Doug Wilder. In large portions of Ohio and Pennsylvania, Obama will be written off by the simple fact that he is black.

    Mike Steele, the black Republican nominee for MD Governor, estimates a loss of 10 to 20 pts. on that alone in key areas.

    In the end, he will not lose Ohio and Pennsylvania in the general election simply because he lost the primaries there. Instead, he will lose the general elections there because key portions of the electorate simply won’t support him.

  25. Joe,

    How can Obama “work out a deal” on spending with outside groups? Outside groups, by definition, don’t answer to the candidates. In McCain’s case, a lot of the conservative outside groups hate his guts.

  26. That what your gut tells you, Neil?

    Keep that crystal ball shiny. You’re on a roll!

  27. Come on Joe respond to those points. You think some snooty liberal elitist is going to win those groups?

    You dont think CULTURE matters?

    It sure does because with the economy the way it is Obama should be creaming McCain but hes not.

  28. Fat, Drunk, and Stupid,

    If the party’s nominee tells groups to knock it off, they will. If both nominees announce an agreement, it sticks. A partisan group that then runs an ad will be blamed on the candidate.

  29. I don’t think you matter, Neil. I think you’ve proven how effectively you understand the effect of such forces on the race – you vastly overvalue them, because you want them so desperately to be true, and it causes you to misunderstand how significant those things are.

    You think some snooty liberal elitist is going to win those groups? No, lose them slightly, just as the Democrats did in 2006. How’d that work out again for them?

  30. Expect the Dems to gain in both the house and senate this November.

    How popular is Congress these days?

  31. To nice a day for this, Duns. Er, I mean, Neil.

  32. Overvalue??

    Hillary won PA despite being outspent 3-1, and McCain is up +10 in PA in the strategic vision poll against Obama! Hes up an average of +6 in Ohio.

    I think you UNDERVALUE them. Obama doesnt understand or connect to the working folks in the heartland, McCain does.

  33. Issue number 1 through N for voters.

    The economy.

    Republicans lose.

  34. So, basically, you are downright giddy at how much the ongoing primary fight is dragging down the Democrats, and yet when faced with the fact that McCain is tied or slightly behind them both, your explanation is that they are so unpopular with groups they need that they can’t win.

    There are many things that don’t make sense about your argument, Neil, but I’m going to point out just one here: you’re arguing that the Democratic primary fight isn’t causing Obama to score lower than he otherwise would against McCain NOW, while it is actually going on, while at the same time asserting that it is going to cause him to score lower against McCain later, after it has been over for months.

    At least one of those things must be wrong, Neil.

  35. I think you UNDERVALUE them.

    I think McCain would be winning if what you were saying was true. He’s not.

  36. Make what you will of this, Neil.

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/106744/Only-26-Say-Obama-Looks-Down-Americans.aspx

    More Americans say John McCain looks down on working class people than Barack Obama.

  37. Most people arent paying attention yet Joe.

    But they will be.

    Wait for the windsurfing/dukakis-in-a tank type ads. Im sure there will be one of Obama bowling gutter balls.

  38. Most people arent paying attention yet Joe.

    But they will be.

    And you think that helps McCain?

    Uh, ok.

    BTW, you aren’t so shy about whether people are paying attention when you think a poll helps you.

  39. Wait for something like this Joe LOL

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=pbdzMLk9wHQ

    That ones a classic!!

  40. Yeah Joe once they see what a strong leader McCain is and how Obama is a gun-grabbing godless liberal tax-raiser, I think it will help McCain.

  41. Issue number 1 through N for voters.

    The economy.

    Republicans lose.

    This. Also, the Bush presidency killed trust in free markets, even though they inplemented few, if any, actual free market policies. A socialist has a better chance of being elected this year than anyone with “free market capitalist” attached to their name.

  42. This. Also, the Bush presidency killed trust in free markets, even though they inplemented few, if any, actual free market policies. A socialist has a better chance of being elected this year than anyone with “free market capitalist” attached to their name.

    Only voters with profound ignorance of economics would vote for a socialist.

  43. From the NYT article:

    …the one issue on which the Democrat clearly distinguished himself from his Republican opponent, though not loudly: Iraq war strategy. Mr. Childers said the strategy was “not working,” while Mr. Davis insisted he would defer to “experts” like Gen. David E. Petraeus on the question.

    Happening in such a Republican leaning district, this election is yet more evidence that to prevail in the Fall elections the GOP candidates for congress must call for an end to the Iraq war. Continuation of the Iraq war is antithetical to the principles of both good and conservative governance anyway.

  44. Neil, “Op Chaos” isn’t as entertaining as “comsymp”. Not even close. Try harder.

  45. Happening in such a Republican leaning district, this election is yet more evidence that to prevail in the Fall elections the GOP candidates for congress must call for an end to the Iraq war. Continuation of the Iraq war is antithetical to the principles of both good and conservative governance anyway.

    Are you sure?

    It was not as if the Dems were punished at the polls for supporting the Korean War back in the 1950’s.

  46. He’s a grey poupon kinda guy

    And McCain isn’t? There’s nothing working class can relate to more than leaving your sick, loyal wife for a rich heiress. That must’ve been on the B-side of Small Town.

  47. Only voters with profound ignorance of economics would vote for a socialist.

    If that’s the case, the socialist is going to win in a landslide. Have you seen polls on economic knowledge?

  48. If that’s the case, the socialist is going to win in a landslide. Have you seen polls on economic knowledge?

    No, I have not.

  49. Michael Ejercito:

    It was not as if the Dems were punished at the polls for supporting the Korean War back in the 1950’s.

    A strong example of the proverbial “apples and oranges”.

  50. A strong example of the proverbial “apples and oranges”.

    True, Korea was an unpopular war, opposed by most Americans.

  51. Joe Mormons in Utah vote Republican no matter what. Theres no chance in hell they vote for Obama.

    Ummm, large majorities of Mormons in Utah tend to vote Republican, but there is a significant minority that lean Democratic, ironically especially in Salt Lake City, which is in a congressional district represented by a Democrat. Also, the vote for Republicans is largely predicated on social conservative issues, plus a lack of hatred for Mormons — Huckabee probably would have lost Utah due to his statements assailing their faith, and Giuliani also could have blown what usually is a sure thing with Democratic hit pieces featuring stuff like his infamous drag queen thing.

    Blue collar voters are also more complicated than you portray them, Neil. They’re human beings, not robots.

  52. Have you ever heard of the Induced Infant Liability Act? It was a bill in Illinois that was defeated.

    That would not go well with Pennsylvania’s voters who have a reputation of opposing abortion rights. Guess who was behind the defeat of that act?

  53. Blue collar voters are also more complicated than you portray them, Neil. They’re human beings, not robots.

    This is true.

    People who are bitter about being laid off would object to the idea that being bitter is the reason they oppose gun control laws, or abortion, or illegal immigration.

  54. Michael Ejercito | April 23, 2008, 2:10pm | #

    A strong example of the proverbial “apples and oranges”.

    True, Korea was an unpopular war, opposed by most Americans.

    I didn’t realize 30% is a majority these days. Also, Eisenhower campaigned on ending the war, McCain isn’t.

  55. Jeezus Cripes, didn’t anyone even read the damned article? Childers almost won because he ran away from the already-discredited Democratic “brand”:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/23/us/politics/23mississippi.html?_r=1&ref=us&oref=slogin

    “At least in part, Mr. Childers was able to deflect Republican efforts to tie him to national Democratic figures held in deep suspicion here, like Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. A nursing home owner as well as the chancery clerk, or county financial administrator, Mr. Childers, 50, styled himself a Mississippi Democrat, marking a distinction with the national party, which he said he disagreed with on some issues.”

  56. Michael Ejercito:

    True, Korea was an unpopular war, opposed by most Americans.

    The Korean war was nowhere near as unpopular as the Iraq war. But anyway, we don’t need to look back to it and extrapolate. The evidence that the GOP congressional candidates will get killed in the elections if they support the status qua in Iraq is much more contemporaneous, such as the special election that is the subject of this thread.

  57. “I’ve never heard him talk about NASCAR”

    Dunno about this one, but all three candidates appeared on WWE the day before the Penn primary.

  58. jkp:

    Jeezus Cripes, didn’t anyone even read the damned article? Childers almost won because he ran away from the already-discredited Democratic “brand”

    You’re discounting the effect of his opposition to the war. Note that the NYT article said:

    the one issue on which the Democrat clearly distinguished himself from his Republican opponent, though not loudly: Iraq war strategy. Mr. Childers said the strategy was “not working,” while Mr. Davis insisted he would defer to “experts” like Gen. David E. Petraeus on the question.”

  59. The Democrats came into this primary season with everything working in their favor. So, of course, they are trying to fuck things up like they always do. First, the Michigan/Florida thing, and now the extended pointless primary season with guaranteed loser Clinton refusing to drop out of the race. Plus, out of all the Republicans running, that party managed to nominate the most electable of the bunch. These two factors (good primary season for the Republicans, bad primary season for the Democrats) managed to turn a double digit Democratic lead for the presidency into a toss up. However, this doesn’t extend much into lower tier races, hence the Childers outcome, amoung others-the Democrats still dominate there, and will come November. Plus, things may turn around back to a Democratic advantage in the presidential race, although maybe not as big as predicted, once Clinton drops out and Obama is free to go head to head against McCain.

  60. Dems are winning by becoming more conservative on taxes and guns. I say good for them.

    The Korean war was nowhere near as unpopular as the Iraq war.

    In fact it was quite a bit more unpopular. We still had a draft then, remember. Bush was re-elected; Truman didn’t even bother to run. Eisenhower was elected by campaigning against it.

    And today S Koreans are some of the richest, freest people in Asia.

  61. The war remained a frustrating stalemate for two years, with over 30,000 Americans killed, until a peace agreement restored borders and ended the conflict.[114] In the interim, the difficulties in Korea and the popular outcry against Truman’s sacking of MacArthur helped to make the president so unpopular that Democrats started turning to other candidates. In the New Hampshire primary on March 11, 1952, Truman lost to Estes Kefauver, who won the preference poll 19,800 to 15,927 and all eight delegates. Truman was forced to cancel his reelection campaign.[115] In February 1952, Truman’s approval mark stood at 22 percent according to Gallup polls, the all-time lowest approval mark for an active American president.[116]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_S._Truman

  62. The only thing I know is that this will all be over, one way or another, after November 4. And for that, we can all be thankful.

    BTW, why does the term “Mississippi Democrat” bring to mind George Wallace? I’m sure that’s a recipe that the Democrats are eager to apply nationwide.

  63. Also, You could fit two korean wars into the Iraq war time wise.

    Granted the casualties were 11x higher in half the time but this was following WW2, when losing 20000 troops a year was considered milquetoast.

  64. You see the same pattern cropping up over and over in these threads; someone confidently predicts a Republican win, and within a couple of threads, they’re explaining that the Republicans are going to win because the Iraq War isn’t unpopular, or people hate “socialist” health care, or some other wholly-at-odds-with-all-evidence assertion about the American’s public’s political preferences.

    I’ve been trying to keep an eye out for people who can make a plausible case that the Republicans are set to win in the fall, and it’s tough to find them. They’re in Cloud Kukooland. If it’s not 1984, it’s 2002.

  65. Joe the Democrats will loose because Obama is a terribly flawed, weak candidate.

  66. Youre right Joe its not 1984 or 2002.

    Its 1988.

  67. Actually, it’s two years after 2006.

    Remind me, did the Democrats pick up 5-8 Senate seats in 1988? I can’t recall.

  68. Yeah and they picked up seats in 1986 too so what?

  69. Also, You could fit two korean wars into the Iraq war time wise.

    Really? When did our troops come home from Korea?

  70. Iraq is as likely to emerge as a modern day South Korea as Afghanistan is to emerge as a modern day Germany.

    You have to be totally ignorant of Iraq’s history, culture, and tribal mentality to even think this is remotely possible.

  71. Dave –

    We’re backing Woody Jenkins in the Special Election on May 3.

    Re-branding starts with Woody. Join our efforts.

    David All
    Executive Director
    Slatecard.com

  72. TallDave:

    In fact it (the Korean war) was quite a bit more unpopular.

    The Iraq war has registered 70% disapproval. I challenge you to provide evidence that the Korean war was so unpopular.

    …the popular outcry against Truman’s sacking of MacArthur helped to make the president so unpopular that Democrats started turning to other candidates.

    This doesn’t help to make the case of the unpopularity of the Korean war. To the contrary. Note that Truman sacked MacArthur cuz the latter wanted to escalate the war.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_S._Truman

    And today S Koreans are some of the richest, freest people in Asia.

    Cuz they have more capitalism (economic liberty) than most of Asia.

  73. Test comment.

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