A Deathblow

to Obamacare. Couldn’t happen soon enough, but maybe it did.

I think that historians will note that the high-water mark of the Obama presidency, at least in terms of trying to ram his radical agenda through in the wake of his election victory, will be the cap’n’tax bill that passed the House in the spring. From here on out, he won’t even have enough support from the Blue Dogs to attempt to commit political suicide with the rest. They know now that he can’t save them. And as Rush said yesterday (I caught ten minutes of him on the way to a client’s office), Nancy Pelosi doesn’t care if they lose their elections, as long as she doesn’t lose her majority. She’d rather have a thin majority of faithful cadres than a bigger one of ideologically suspect and unreliable moderates. So they had better realize that their loyalty is to their own voters, particularly in the so-called “Red” states (I never fail to be amazed at how the media has managed to foist that color on Republicans, when it’s so much more appropriate to the other party — I could swear it used to be the other way around in the nineties), and not to either the White House or their leadership.

As for NY-23, I think that there are several lessons there, but one of them is that if the Republicans want to win, they have to put up good candidates. Face it, Hoffman was a pretty geeky guy, and the Democrat was a Blue Dog, and not a bad fit for the district. It’s actually better for the Republicans to have him in place now, when he won’t have much time to develop his incumbency, and can come up with a better (i.e., not a “Republican” to the left of him, or dweeby carpet bagger with no political experience) candidate next fall. If they hadn’t been idiots, they would have come up with a better candidate in the first place, but considering what a Charlie Foxtrot the thing was, it’s pretty amazing that they came as close to beating Owens as they did. The Republican establishment had better pay close attention, and draw the right lessons.

[Update a couple minutes later]

Just in case Dick Morris is wrong, and we need to put a wooden stake through its heart, get to Washington tomorrow if you can.

18 thoughts on “A Deathblow

  1. Karl Hallowell

    I never fail to be amazed at how the media has managed to foist that color on Republicans, when it’s so much more appropriate to the other party — I could swear it used to be the other way around in the nineties

    I understand the coloring scheme comes from whoever reports election results in graphical form by coloring counties and states of the US according to how they voted, probably the Federal Election Commission, under the Clinton administration. My guess is that they wanted to use a red, white, and blue coloring scheme, but they didn’t want to paint the Democrats a stereotypical red. Later came the blog observation that led to the red/blue state thing.

  2. Big D

    You are correct–through the 80s, at least, the colors were reversed, and I’m pretty sure that at least 1 of the 2 90s presidential elections was as well. Growing up, I thought it a subtle dig at both parties (Republicans=Blue-bloods, Democrats=Reds).

    Then came the 2000 election, the only one that mattered to the screamers… and the first one after the Internet had gone mainstream and meme generation had become a national sport. So, it took off.

  3. rfd

    IIRC, the Red/Blue color scheme in presidential elections used to mean: “Blue for incumbent, Red for challenger.” In 2000, GWB was the Red team.

    After the 2000 elections, the colors became shorthand, not for parties, but for differing cultures within the US.

  4. notanexpert

    Another lesson learned should be that absentee voting can distort an election. How many absentee votes were cast for Dede that otherwise might have gone to Hoffman?

  5. Porkypine

    All due respect, but candidate quality is a very secondary lesson of NY-23 this year. Hoffman didn’t lose because he’s a mediocre campaigner – given the actual numbers, it’s entirely possible (likely even) he would have won if the race had been two-way Hoffman versus Owens from the start.

    The number one lesson for Republicans *and* Conservatives I see from NY-23 is, unify BEFORE the campaign. Trust me, the Dems see the other side of this lesson clearly – split their opposition and they win districts they otherwise wouldn’t. (Look for a wave of Q-ship “independent” third party candidates next year.)

    This has urgent implications both for the Rep establishment and for the Tea-party insurgents.

    Tea Partiers, note that third party runs send messages very effectively, but they don’t win elections. This was about as good as third-party runs get, far closer to winning than most. The message has been sent now; the objective next year is to win elections. Get as much as you can of what you want in the primaries, either your candidate or force the other candidate to adopt your positions. Then suck it up, hold your nose if need be, and unite behind the primary winner. WORK for them, even if they’re unpleasantly squishy. The alternative is another Pelosi/Reid vote. (The bonus is increased influence for your views next time around. Play the long game too – the other side does, for keeps.)

    And Rep Establishment, HEAR AND BELIEVE that plausible small-government fiscal conservatism is an indispensable minimum for a winning candidate in the 2010 general election – the Tea Partiers may be upset about a host of other issues, but that one looks like their unifying bottom line – try to ignore or finesse that, and they’ll either run third-party or stay home.

    “Gentlemen, we must hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

    cynically

    Porkypine

  6. Jim

    Morris writes: Polls indicate a declining level of popular approval of the Obama policies (Rasmussen shows his job approval at 46 percent)

    Rasmussen also showed it at 45 percent on September 1, and today they have it at 48%. That doesn’t look like “declining level of popular approval”.

  7. Tom W.

    I think the fact that the ‘Conservative’ party was able to choose a candidate that essentially caused the Republican nominee to quit as well as almost win a seat was in fact a victory for the Tea-Party conservative types. It shows that this grass roots movement can win elections. I also agree that they need to understand the overall ‘game’ of politics and realize they won’t get a perfect nominee and work with the GOP to get the party back to the conservative roots.

  8. Tom W.

    Jim wrote Rasmussen also showed it at 45 percent on September 1, and today they have it at 48%. That doesn’t look like “declining level of popular approval”.

    Rasmusses also showed it at 52% on October 5, but only 48% today. That does look like “declining level of popular approval”. See, Jim, two can play at that game.

    The ‘overall’ decline looks like, this, Jim:

    1/21/09 – 62%
    11/04/09 – 48%

    Overall = -14% (that would be the definition of a decline).

  9. Mark-the good one-

    No one has yet described how the Red-Blue system works (or used to work) according to what I’ve been told.

    According to the explanation here:
    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2004_11/005157.php

    … it was originally set up to be alternating every presidential election year between red=party of the incumbent president, blue=other party / blue=party of incumbent president, red=other party. Hence, in 2000 Dems were incumbent and Blue, GOP was challengers and red; in 2004 GOP was incumbent and red; Dems were challengers and blue. Back in 1996 Dems were incumbent and red, which is the last time this has been true.

    So in 2008 it should have been back to incumbent party (GOP) = blue, but apparently after the election of 2000 there was so much red state/blue state theorizing and discussing, the terms creeping into titles of books and websites, that they have apparently abandoned the alternation system and gone with the simplified but less fair GOP=red, Dem=blue, perhaps permanently.

  10. Jim

    Overall = -14% (that would be the definition of a decline).

    No one is arguing that Obama hasn’t lost popularity since his inauguration, and it isn’t surprising that he has: absent an event like 9/11, every president drops in the polls over the course of his first year in office.

    Obama’s Rassmussen approval was 48% four months ago. Since then various health care bills have been debated and voted on, Chicago lost the Olympics and Obama won the Nobel, both unemployment and growth have risen, but his approval rating has been steady, only going as low as 46% and as high as 52%. The rising tide of disapproval that Morris imagines is not visible in the polling.

  11. Porkypine

    Tom W. – “It shows that this grass roots movement can win elections” is not precisely correct. It show that the Republicans will continue to lose elections if they fail to change course enough to get this grass roots movement on board, which is not quite the same thing as the Tea Party being able to reliably win elections on its own.

    To be blunt, neither the Tea Partiers nor the current Republican Party can win alone next year. If significant numbers of either stay home, the Dems win, again.

    I personally doubt the necessary conclusions will be drawn and necessary actions taken in time. Right now, I’d bet on enough ongoing Republican-Conservative fratricide that Pelosi is still Speaker after January 2011. I’d like to be wrong, mind. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

    cynically

    Porkypine

  12. Karl Hallowell

    Last I checked, TradeSports was betting in favor of both branches of Congress staying Democrat. Looks like someone agrees with you Porky.

  13. Alan K. Henderson

    The number one lesson for Republicans *and* Conservatives I see from NY-23 is, unify BEFORE the campaign.

    And how was unification made impossible? Because the candidate was picked by party feudal lords in Albany rather than through a primary. If you want a candidate that fits the district, you go straight to the people, not to a bunch of disconnected plutocrats.

    Hoffman 2010!

  14. Karl Hallowell

    I thought about this a bit, and I would not call this a deathblow for Obama’s health care proposals. Even if they really are putting it off till next year. As Chris points out, the Democrats have two more votes. That might make the difference.

  15. Kelly Starks

    >– I would not call this a deathblow for Obama’s health care
    > proposals. Even if they really are putting it off till next year.
    > As Chris points out, the Democrats have two more votes.==

    The thought is they probably lost several votes for health care last night. Congress knew this was a VERY unpopular bill with folks back home. Buit they figured Obama’s coats tails – or not enough voter memory by next year – would carry them through next November. But Obama’s coat tails didn’t help in NJ and Virginia – not even with him really trying. And folks who were expected to be shoe-ins lost. So dems are expected to really be thinking they don’t want to anger their voters on this.

    Obama also figured and said it was this year or never. Next year coming elections would make then skitish, and Obamas popularity and clout was bound to decline after the glow of the election ran out.

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