|Take a look at the outcome in the Pennsylvania 12th Congressional district. While Rep. Jack Murtha held this seat 36 years, the district can only be defined as a swing district. It is the only one in the nation that voted for John Kerry in 2004, but then voted for John McCain in 2008 (maybe they have a thing for candidates with the first name John, but it is more likely that it is trending conservative). If there really is a wave of discontent with the Democrats in Congress this should have been a seat that the Republicans could win and win handily.
This turned out not to be the case yesterday. The new Representative from the PA-12 won with 53% of the vote. Now it might be easy to say that he is going to be a shoe in to be a Conserva-Dem, but this was a candidate who did not run away from his pro-choice views on women's reproductive rights. This is a state which is has restrictions on insurance for abortion and gag rules for state employees. It is hardly a place where being forthrightly in favor of women controlling their own reproduction is going to win you a lot of voters.
Even with the help of the National Republican Party and 1 million dollars spent by them, Tim Burns was not only defeated he was beaten convincingly enough that it will make it fairly easy for Rep. Mark Critz to win re-election this fall.
All of this goes to point that the conventional wisdom about the mid-terms is likely to be wrong. This is not to say that any candidate Democratic candidate who wants to serve in the 112th Congress should rest on their laurels, in fact quite the opposite. The nation is still in trouble in many ways and there is real anger the electorate. The nomination of Rep. Sestak over incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter shows that the voters want something other than what they have today. The thing is what they want is not the Republican Party.
For all the discontent (justified in my mind) on the left of the Democratic Party, and in the nation as a whole the idea of going back to the policies that created the problems we face is not one that resonates with the public. The fact is that the problems facing the nation were created by six years of lawless Republican rule. The two wars that have cost the lives of more than 5,000 U.S. soldiers (and hundreds of thousands of others) as well as drained nearly a trillion dollars from our budgets were the projects of Republicans.
The fact that we can not trust our food or drugs, that toys imported from other nations have high levels of lead, that dog and cat food can be toxic to them is all due to the deregulatory thinking of the Republicans. The spreading ecological disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and the Russian Roulette nature of our financial markets all come from the lazzie faire thinking of Party of Lincoln.
They have not changed their policies in any way shape or form. If anything the Republicans have internalized the message that they are losing because their bat-shit crazy policies are not conservative enough. After all they can look at their new nominee for Senate in Kentucky Rand Paul and see it as confirmation that the people don't want a government that works. That is only true inside the Republican Party, and that party is less than 30% of the electorate.
In fact it is the very divide inside the Republican Party that the Tea Party base represents which is keeping them from taking advantage of the CW this cycle. Having to pander to people who really think that the President is a Socialist and that modest and incomplete changes to the insurance system in this nation are a government take over makes it nearly impossible for them to win in general elections. The things that a candidate has to say and do to win in a Republican primary are toxic in a general election. Worse the Republican base is so militant that any move to the middle to try to capture ex-Republican independents is treated as a betrayal. This presents an unsolvable problem. You can be nominate as Republican, but you can't run in a way that will let you win.
This is what the 7 and 1 record in special elections tells us. The Republican Party should have a cake walk, but because of their own internal problems and lack of understanding that the public does not actually want them in charge they are going to have many more defeats this year than the conventional wisdom indicates.
The floor is yours.