TCS Daily


I Wish They All Could Be California Pols

By Michael Rosen - November 8, 2006 12:00 AM

SAN DIEGO - If only the country could be more like California.

Not only do we have great weather, gorgeous beaches, and fulsome vineyards, but we also have a Republican governor, several other statewide elected Republicans, and numerous successful conservative ballot measures. We even defended most of our House seats from the Democratic onslaught.

Here in San Diego, we actually managed to oust some elected Democrats, along with passing a citywide union-busting proposition allowing for competitive bidding for municipal services.

So much for the good news.

As of this writing, Republicans nationwide have lost control of the House (a 26-seat turnover) and, most likely, the Senate (pending a recount in Virginia—and any legal disputes handled by TCS's own Ilya Shapiro). For the first time in 12 years, Congressional Democrats will have the upper hand.

Of course, some of the Senate losses, when examined individually, are far from grave. Rhode Island's Lincoln Chafee truly embodied the epithet "RINO" - Republican In Name Only. He couldn't even bring himself to support his party's standard-bearer in the 2004 race and was rumored to be mulling a party change.

Mike DeWine of Ohio lacked charisma and was widely viewed as a less-than-effective leader. And Conrad Burns was never known for his legislative prowess.

Also not to be underestimated is the victory of Sen. Joseph Lieberman over liberal challenger Ned Lamont. While Lieberman, who won election as an independent, will likely caucus with the Democrats, his relationships with his party (and with the Clintons, who sided with Lamont) have frayed badly.

What's more, Lieberman largely ignored the advice of many liberals to downplay his support for the Iraq War. Still, don't hold your breath waiting for the media to tout Lieberman's win as a sign that voters rejected the shrill antiwar position of the MoveOn.org Left.

On the other hand, Sen. Rick Santorum veritably draped himself in the War on Terror. His defeat to a lackluster fellow like Bob Casey, Jr. augurs ill for the war's continued prosecution. The losses of Jim Talent in Missouri and Michael Steele in Maryland were bad setbacks for two GOP rising stars.

Before Tuesday, confident Republicans and associated commentators praised the Republicans' get-out-the-vote (GOTV) operation as the antidote to anti-Bush sentiment. The polls even appeared to be narrowing ahead of the election.

And indeed, the much-vaunted GOTV effort indeed proved impressive. According to one Republican official I spoke to, GOP volunteers nationwide placed over 27 million phone calls to registered voters over the final weekend of the campaign.

Much of this strategy focused on "microtargeting": obtaining detailed information on registered voters and contacting them—often multiple times—to focus on specific issues of relevance to them. This political data-mining enabled campaign volunteers to reach like-minded voters in obscure places.

But in the end, it wasn't enough to withstand nationwide unease with Republican governance.

I spoke with another Republican official who shared his insights. In his mind, the strategic mistake Republicans made was "to marry 'comprehensive immigration reform' to border security." This served to demoralize the conservative base just as it energized liberals.

Scandals didn't help either. The official told me that "unfortunately, some of our folks like Bob Ney, Duke Cunningham, and Mark Foley simply handed the Democrats issues they never deserved to get." Like the immigration issue, these various scandals embarrassed conservative supporters while motivating Democrats.

Lest we underestimate the importance of last night's developments, my source confided that "this is only the beginning. Congressional leadership positions will be reshuffled, committee staffers will come and go, trade associations will shift their emphases, and K Street will adjust its focus. In other words, the Democrats will enjoy all of the institutional advantages we'd been enjoying until tonight."

The official was optimistic, though. After all, most of the newly-elected Democrats were moderately conservative folks like North Carolina's Heath Shuler—adroitly recruited by Rep. Rahm Emanuel's DCCC. To the extent any broad themes can be discerned in the results, they can't really be said to include a repudiation of conservative ideas.

Still, in the end, any analysis requires a proper perspective. When viewed against the expectations of a week or a month ago, last night's results were a measured success for Republicans.

But when considered in light of the GOP's high hopes of one year ago—including plans to capture vulnerable Democratic Senate seats in Minnesota, Nebraska, and Florida—the '06 election must surely be viewed as a disappointment.

Yet pulling back even further, compared to a ruling party's typical electoral performance during a president's sixth year in office, last night's tally was just about right—the loss of 30 House seats and 5-6 Senate seats.

There's much more to be said and there will be even more to do. But for now, let's just say I'm proud to be a Republican—one who lives in California, not Washington.

Michael M. Rosen, TCS Daily's Intellectual Property columnist, is an attorney in San Diego.

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11 Comments

I'm just north of SD in Oceanside
The area stayed republican, and the state leaned further republican.

Most of the propositions we wanted passed, and those we didn't failed miserably.

And it was about 78 deg yesterday. Only in San Diego, In NOVEMBER can you see a woman walk by in a bikinni on the way to the beach.

I love it
I love to watch the machinery turn coming up with rationalizations. Its still a good analysis though, just tainted by the partisanship of the author.

This rationalization is the only one to take issue with:
"To the extent any broad themes can be discerned in the results, they can't really be said to include a repudiation of conservative ideas."

Actually, rejection of Bush-conservative ideas is the over-arching theme of this election. Of which Iraq is the biggest single issue. Conservatives sold their soul to Bush to get Republicans in power. Traditional conservative ideas are just ideas today, free for anyone to snatch up on the open market. Until conservatives get their soul back, split from Bush, ideas of big government, K Street corruption, corporate handouts, handouts for the rich, refusal to accept accountability, will continue to be the new conservative ideas. Exactly what Americans repudiate.

What it all really means
For me the election meant a chance to throw the bums in Congress out. I'm in a safe republican congressional district, in a safe republican state. I voted against the *incumbents* because they have not done their job in Congress. I suggest that if ballots were marked to indicate who the incumbent is we would get more voter turnout, and more turnover in Congress. I don't really think anyone is happy with either side of the aisle in Congress.

We can put up with a Democratic Congress for two years. Then it's *their* turn to get kicked out.

The GOP were bad stewards of the Government
The GOP was elected on a mandate of smaller more efficient government that would stop government intrusion into our lives. This warped and became get re elected by free spending to the point there was little difference from the Democrats. Changes were either negative of temporary such as Bush's vaunted tax cuts. Bush ignored his base and pushed things the base didn't care about like Medicare, education reform, and amnesty for illegals. The GOP Congress didn't push a conservative agenda but believed pork would keep them safe.

On the plus side many RINOs were executed yesterday. On the negative side a great many good people lost because they stood with Bush's mistaken policies. Perhaps now is the time to fight the war as it should be fought. If Bush is unwilling to have done this he should never have started the war. He shouldhave also asked for a declaration and made it clear he was going to overthrow Saddam and the Baathist regime without falling prey to the nonsense about democracy.

We can only hope the Democrats take full advantage to persue their agenda. If the GOP redefines itself into the party of Reagan once again it will win in 2008. If not it will just remain a Rockefellerparty that will always be in the minority.

Though I didn't want to see it, It will be an interesting two years
Both houses; I knew is was possible, but I didn't think it probable. If the liberal left tries to take advantage (and I suspect that they will to at least some extent) this will be two years of battles between the president and the congress. Watch the investigations go wild and the veto ink flow.

But I think the dems did learn something in 04; it is notable that several of the newly elected congress members and Senators are moderate to conservative democrats. While I think the Polosi-Kennedy crowd will pull some real shennagans, I also think there will be some real work done on vital issue; but Iraq will not be one of these.

The biggest effect is this: what happens between now and November of 08 will set the tone for the 08 elections.

Democrats have a real opportunity to turn the tide of the recent past and take control of the entire government in 08; but first they must get something done and not turn congress into a circus.

Next they must find a real presidentical candidate that is acceptable to moderates. If they can do these two things, they will win the White House in 08 and probably make even greater gains in the house and senate.

If they spend too much time holding investigations, creating problems and getting nothing done, they will lose the presidential election and, possibly, both houses of congress in 08.

Well said...
You hit the nail on the head as to an explanation for yesterday's results.

The conventional wisdom isn't
I had with an in-law a few weeks back. In college in 1960's in Ohio during Kent State-contributes to NPR. Get the picture? Otherwise, we like a lot of the same stuff, so I suppress my urge to discuss politics and save it for this tempest in a teapot. I about dropped when this individual said that frustration indicated was lack of overwhelming force. No complaint with mission or use of force, just wanted it DONE! We are impatient people, we are conditioned by broadband and Gulf War 1 to expect immediate results. The jihadists are carrying thousand year old grudges and fly off the handle over a cartoon. The dems peddle Rodney King "can't we all just get along" crap.

Reagan couldn't make it today. California elects arnold because he's a tool of Uncle Teddy. In Pennsylvania, the massas rule because of the welfare plantations called Philadelphia, Delaware and Allegheny Counties, the loopy Penn State faculty in Centre, the gray mafia in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties-where generations of grandchildren have left for better business climates-so the geeser brigades reward the Democrats. The rest of the state is pretty sensible

Look for the socialists to attempt to creat new dependent classes, who are quite content to use the government as an agent of plunder.








Governator 2
The Governator said last night that he likes sequels and that he's going to "solve deh global warming". Maybe he'll campaign for another Republican candidate some day...

It really doesn't matter what your real beliefs are if you are a Democrat-the machine soon makes you
The good thing is that we get to see the Democrats act like Democrats. People voted them in so they deserve them. I do have some questions about some of the votes and integrity of the Virginia election-I don't understand how Allen could be 20,000 up with 91% of the vote counted and all of northern Virginia counted to see Webb win by 8,000 when the remainder of the vote came from tradionally strong GOP areas. But the Virginia contest was an exceptionally ugly one.

If the GOP can't get back on message and focus on what its base wants rather than cater to the delusions of people like Bush then disasters are sure to follow. The Dems may have put up moderates but they will either tow the linbe of the party elite or be frozen out of the DC game. The Dems may be radicals but they are professional politicians and know how the game is played not like the GOP.

I'm not so sure
Before I found out who some of the candidates were around the country I expected a pretty narrow win for the Dem in the house and a lot of vitrolic whining about not winning the senate.

Then I found out what the dems were really up too; impressive for a party that, two years ago, was turning so far to the left they were headed for irrelavancy. I suspect much of what you say will prove true but, if it does, look for a big dem loss in 08.

rejection of Bush-conservative ideas ???
It wasn't the rejection of Bush-conservative ideas, the the lack of enthusiasm for the fact that the Bush-conservative ideas stayed ideas and didn't transform into much action.

The Faith Based Initiatives were killed, not by liberal Democrats, but by Republican leadership and Big Tent Republicans who where more conserved about winning elections and staying in power. Then they had their Foley fiasco and Hastert's leadership. Even John Kerry's shooting himself in the foot could compensate for that.

If I didn't have to drive by the polling place to get to work, I might have been tempted to stay home too.

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