The Grand Old Party has been skewered by the voters in the last two general elections. The Democrats regained Congress in 2006 and added the Presidency and substantial majorities in 2008. Republicans at all levels were hammered the past four years, wiping out the steady gains beginning in 1980.
The Democratic victories were due to frustration with Iraq, a culture of Republican corruption, sexual peccadilloes, and out of control spending. Ted Stevens, Jerry Lewis, and Don Young squandered the taxpayers’ money, highlighted by the Bridge to Nowhere, turning off much of the fiscally conservative base of the Party.
The collapse of Wall Street and the ensuing economic collapse guaranteed Senator Obama’s election, indeed, providing the Senator the honor of being the only Democratic candidate for President to win an outright majority of the votes since LBJ in 1964.
President Obama won a mandate.
Pundits were writing off the Republican Party.
And yet, sometimes it’s darkest before the sun comes out.
The tide has turned barely one year later. To paraphrase a Republican theme from a few years ago, the Rising Tide has returned. The President misread his mandate, just as Newt Gingrich and the Republicans in 1994.
Two governorships (New Jersey and Virginia) and a House seat in upstate New York are up for election next week. The GOP is favored to win in New Jersey and Virginia, and no living person can remember when the Republicans did not hold the House seat.
The Republicans though may lose two of the three elections. The open New York seat may flip Democratic because the Republican candidate, Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, is more liberal than the Democrat, Bill Owens. A third candidate, Douglas Hoffman, is draining support from Scozzafava as he runs on traditional conservative values. Her record includes tax increases, gay rights, pro choice, support for cap and trade, the President’s stimulus plan, and unionization, Most of these positions are anathema to most Republicans, but many could live with some apostasy, but not this combination. That she has been endorsed by ACORN is the final nail in her political campaign.
The problem is that the nominees did not emerge victorious from contested primaries, but rather were selected by party bosses since the vacancy opened up after the November election. Republican leaders in New York have an exemplary record in recent years of losing Nassau County, Suffolk County, Westchester County, and the New York Senate.
The only polls that count are the actual votes cast on election day, but recent polls show Hoffman pulling ahead of Scozzafava and giving Owens a run for his money. Hoffman has been endorsed by Governors Palin and Pawlenty, former Senators Fred Thompson Rich Santorum, Steve Forbes and Dick Armey.
New Jersey similarly has a three way race for governor. The incumbent, Jon Corzine, is extremely unpopular with voters. He has failed to rein in tax increases, especially property taxes, and government spending. He’s viewed as incompetent and aloof. New Jersey’s fiscal morass is second only to California’s.
Many Republicans are dissatisfied with the GOP nominee, Chris Christy, for failure to spell out how he will change in political culture in Jersey. His campaign is essentially: “I’ve fought corruption in New Jersey, so trust me.”
Voters are in a surly mood; they want specifics and do not trust broad generalities.
The conservative independent, Chris Daggert, has gained enough support in the polls to threaten Christy’s chances of victory.
Virginia seems a clear win for the Republicans. First, Virginia usually elects a candidate from a different party than the President. Hence Robert McDonnell has a clear lead over the Democratic nominee, Creigh Deeds, who has also underperformed in the debates.
The Washington Post has unsuccessfully attempted to Macaca McDonnell. Senator George Allen was seeking reelection in 2004 when he used the slur word for Indians. The Post hammered Allen daily. He lost by less than 9,000 votes.
The Washington Post ignored Senator Biden’s Indian comments during his Presidential election bid: “You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a sight Indian accent … I’m not joking.”
McDonnell’s master’s thesis at Regent University two decades ago had some grossly inappropriate statements. He viewed working women and feminists as detrimental to the family. He wrote government policy should favor married couples over “cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators.” He also opposed a 1972 Supreme Court decision legalizing contraception by unmarried couples.
These words would normally doom the candidate, but in difficult economic times voters vote their pocket book and economic issues. When times are good, they vote social issues.
Tuesday’s the day. The only way the GOP can’t sweep is if the non-Democratic candidates split the Republican vote, resulting in a plurality election for the Democrats.