I’ve spent nearly a month now watching red bits of the map turn purple, then blue. My eyes are sore from rubbing.
Just a few short weeks ago, I was in a passion of despair. It looked like we would, at best, miss electing a McCain/Palin idiocracy by a hairsbreadth. I believed we would have to fight like furies to get a few good Dems onto Capitol Hill. We’d have to write off a good number of states and races as utterly unwinnable. I was convinced we were in for years more of the same partisan wrangling that has paralyzed this nation. No matter if Obama won – it wouldn’t be with a mandate to change this country, and it wouldn’t be with enough Dems to allow him to do anything more than hold a few flimsy pieces of ground against Republicon assaults.
And then, the numbers changed. State after state began falling to Obama. Battlegrounds shifted to states that had seemed adamantium for McCain. We suddenly were past No Man’s Land and swarming unassailable trenches. But that’s Obama, I thought. I know conservative voters who’ll vote for him, but will vote solid red downticket.
Well, my darlings. We appear to have entered the very bunkers of our enemy and are now boozing it up with the enemy’s stalwart allies. A lot can change in three weeks, but perhaps not when we have so many of our former opponents drunk on hope. Our opponents are having to furiously dig new trenches in territory they never thought they’d have to defend, and those trenches might soon be overrun by a maurading band of liberals, progressives, independents, and disillusioned conservatives intoxicated by the notion that yes, we can build a better future.
What makes me so certain? It’s the current condition of the Republicon races, which are, in a word,
Darren White and Erik Paulsen were prized Republican recruits, House candidates poised to be the new face of the GOP on Capitol Hill.
But as the two head into the homestretch of their campaigns, GOP operatives say they’ll probably have to win — or lose — on their own. The money national Republicans earmarked for White in New Mexico and for Paulsen in Minnesota will likely go instead to protect GOP incumbents who once looked like locks for reelection.
GOP Reps. John B. Shadegg of Arizona, Lee Terry of Nebraska, Henry Brown Jr. of South Carolina and Dan Lungren of California are all fighting for their political lives, a reversal of fortunes that has caught even the most astute campaign observers by surprise.
Shadegg’s AZ-03 is R+5.9.
Terry’s NE-02 is R+9.0.
Brown’s SC-01 is R+9.6
Lungren’s CA-03 is R+6.7.
The least conservative of those districts, Shadegg’s Arizona one, gave Bush a 17-point victory in 2004, 58-41. Yet here are entrenched, long-time incumbents depending on their party’s broke committee to help bail them out.
“If you’re a Republican in a less-than-outstanding district, you want to have taken a poll in the last two weeks no matter who you’re running against,” said David Wasserman, an analyst on House races for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.
“The DCCC has made advertising decisions that have forced Republicans’ hands,” he continued, mentioning Terry’s seat in Nebraska and one held by conservative Rep. Mark Souder in Indiana. “Republicans, in turn, need to spend in these districts. And $500,000 to the [National Republican Congressional Committee] is a whole lot more meaningful than $500,000 to the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee].”
Guys, we have something incredible shaping up — the Republican Party is broke and unable to support any of its challengers. What’s more, the map is so deep, and discontent in this country so high, that almost everything is competitive.
Former GOP consultant Allan Hoffenblum said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher and other California Republicans, including Reps. David Dreier and Brian Bilbray, are also at risk.
“The Republican base is not sufficient by itself to elect a Republican in those [California] districts; they still need the independent vote,” Hoffenblum said. “In the past decade, they have been reliably voting Republican for president and for Congress. … There are a lot of angry and scared voters out there. This is not your traditional environment.”
How to Republicans defend when almost any district can be unexpectedly competitive? They can’t. They are being forced to circle the wagons around a few of their most prized seats (like AZ-03’s conservative darling, John Shadegg).
This is a committee that began the cycle bragging about retaking the seats they lost in 2006 and challenging other endangered Democrats. Then they talked about holding their open seats. Now they’re left defending Dan Lungren? Dan Lungren?
Yes, Kos. Dan Lungren, even so. St. Ronnie himself would probably be fighting a losing battle in this political climate.
This is turning in to a rout. It’s a beautiful thing to see.