National Review's Corner blog hasn't been covered in glory recently (cough, cough), but John Hood's even-tempered take on the election is a nice corrective. Against all the fears of ACORN, against all the money Obama has spent attacking McCain, Hood reminds us that a Democratic win this year was about as surprising as a rainstorm in April.
Ronald Reagan led a political revolution in 1980 against decades of Keynesian nonsense and cultural rot — and then saw his party lose congressional seats in 1982. Bill Clinton led a Democratic takeover of Washington in 1992, which lasted two years. Bush and the GOP won full control in 2004, which lasted two years. In modern times, American political power has had a quicksilver quality. Does that mean that the upcoming election isn't important? Hardly! But it won't be the last word on the future of our Republic. No single election ever is.
Also, it wouldn't greatly surprise me if on Election Day the Republicans achieve a net gain in governorships, even as the party loses additional ground in D.C.. In the state of Washington, no Republican has been elected governor since 1980. But Dino Rossi is virtually tied with incumbent Gov. Christine Gregoire in the latest polls. And in North Carolina, my home state, Republican Pat McCrory and Democrat Bev Perdue are tied, even though Obama is running quite well here. No Republican has been elected governor in NC in 20 years. In some states, Republicans are also poised to make legislative gains after disappointing cycles in 2004 and 2006.
All true! We forget this now, but there were Democrats in 1984 convinced that a Reagan re-election would mean nuclear war, the dismantling of the New Deal, and the coming of the cockroach as the superior life form on earth. Don't believe me?
In retrospect, the Democrats were destined to lose an election against a popular incumbent president during an economic expansion.
The only thing Hood misses here (if he's missing, as opposed to just not talking about it) is the potential rachet effect of an Obama presidency. A charismatic Democrat with a congressional supermajority is going to be able to pass, among other things, card check and national health insurance. Republicans have warned for years that these sorts of measures would allow mega-funding of union political activity and a entitlement that no Republican will be able to roll back. They've been right! Which is why they should cut McCain loose (unless he crushes Obama in tonight's debate, etc. etc.) and keep the Democrats' Senate majority down to a managable 55 or 56.