Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Non-Audacious Reasons to Hope

by Ken Houghton

If I believed the punditocracy (including most of the web-based supporters of ObamaNation, e.g., here and here* UPDATE: Or here, with a hat tip to Mark Thoma), the "battle" between Their Man and HRC is much more brutal than anything the Republicans will throw at him, and will only damage his support among the Democrats who, since they still have a choice, are voting for her and may not turn up in the general election.* * Or something like that.

So it's nice to see that all the Macro factors (2006 being historic, a large number of retiring Republicans, Presidential popularity in the Nixon-just-be-resignation range) also translate, as Stan Collender details at Capital Gains and Games:
[S]pecial elections are typically dominated by the party in power. The incumbent party can usually, and easily, get its supporters to the polls. Combined with the almost always low-turnout in a special, that gives the incumbent party a huge and frequently insurmoutable advantage.

So what can you say when an insurmoutable advantage turns out not to be enough? What does it mean when the same thing has now happened in Illinois and Louisiana, two very different states in two exceptionally different parts of the country?

Maybe it means that all of those "benefit of the doubt, and besides we're at war" votes in 2004 have come to doubt? Maybe it means four more years of real-wage-losses and more deaths (even without the benefit of seeing the coffins) have taken their toll, and "you can't fool all of the people all of the time" is a truism because it's true.

Or maybe it's that running the same play every time gets as boring to MOR and socially-conservative voters as it is to those being tarred. Collender:
[T]he GOP campaign strategy in Louisiana was to tie the Democratic candidate to Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi and paint the local candidiate as too liberal for the district. If using something as tried and true as the "liberal" label doesn't work, what does that say about what will be effective in November?

Maybe even Harry Reid could win if he were running as a Democrat this year.

*Though "the Sherman's March to the Democratic nomination for President" is a classic, if precious, phrase.

**Many of them appear to expect Obama's supporters not to turn up in the general election if HRC is nominated. Is this really an indication of their candidate's strength?***

***There might be an argument that it would be, but it seems rather specious without details of what those voters will do that is different from what they did, say, in 2004.

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